Dog owners in Parsons will have to pay for an identifying microchip implant if their dogs bite someone.
City commissioners on Monday evening approved an ordinance that will make dog owners liable for the charge of nearly $30. If the dog is later declared not vicious by a municipal court judge, the owner will be reimbursed for the fee. If, however, the judge rules the dog is vicious, the city could easily identify the dog in the future and fine the owner for keeping a vicious dog in the city if already ordered to remove the dog.
The ordinance is the result of several dog bites in the last few weeks. City Attorney Ross Albertini said there have been six in the last few months. In one case, a dog bit someone in December and then two other people in May. The dog owner was ordered to remove the dog after the first bite but did not. The dog was seen in town in March or April, but the police couldn’t prove it was the same dog because it was at another property.
“These dogs, they’re transient just like people are,” Albertini said.
If the dog was removed from town when it was spotted earlier, the city may have been able to prevent two people from getting bitten.
Albertini said under an existing ordinance dogs declared vicious are ordered removed from the city, or the owner could pay a $500 bond. If the dog is found in town, the owner would lose the bond. Often, however, dog owners neither pay the bond nor remove the dog from city limits.
Albertini said the dog owners may move the dog to a friend’s or relative’s house for a while or leave it there long-term. If the dog again bites someone, Parsons police have no way to prove it’s the same dog. With the microchip, that won’t be a problem, and the owner can be more severely fined for harboring a vicious dog in the city, Albertini said. The dog also could be euthanized if the court deems it necessary.
It takes more than a dog biting someone to declare it’s vicious. Albertini must present evidence to the municipal court, and the judge must agree in order for the dog to be ruled vicious.
“Under the ideal scenario, we wouldn’t implant the chip until that point,” Albertini said.
The problem with that, he said, is that the dog would “disappear,” with the owner claiming the dog has been removed from town already.
Albertini said two or three times a year the judge declines to declare a dog vicious, so the city would lose a little money by paying for the microchipping, but it’s only a minuscule amount compared to the entire city budget.
“I would guess we have about 10 dog bites a year on average,” Albertini said.
Albertini doesn’t try to get every dog that bites someone ruled vicious.
“Not every dog that bites someone is a vicious dog by definition. There are mitigating circumstances,” he said.
A dog that has received no complaints from neighbors that bites someone who got in its backyard may not be considered vicious. On the other hand, two dachshunds that recently bit an elderly woman getting into her car were declared vicious because the police had received about a dozen animal-at-large calls on the dogs.
“Every situation is a little unique,” Albertini said.
Each viscous dog will be assigned a number, and a handheld device will read the microchips, telling the responding police officer the dog’s number if applicable.
During a Thursday afternoon work session, Commissioner Tom Shaw mentioned that now would be a good time to also consider a reversal of the city’s ban on pit bulls. On Monday, Commissioner Kevin Cruse said a lifting of the ban should be considered, but very little else was said on the issue.
In other business the commissioners:
— Approved an ordinance to rezone property at 2106 Crawford Ave. from multi-family residential (R-3) to service commercial (C-3) to allow Nick and Michelle Beery to continue operating Milli’s New and Used Furniture.
— Approved payment of $22,410 to BG Consultants Inc. for work completed on a stormwater improvement project. The city received a grant to make upgrades to two pump stations along the Labette Creek levy.
— Approved payment of $2,499 to Olsson Associates for inspection of the Lake Parsons dam.
— Approved payment of $10,628.38 to Heck & Wicker Construction, Parsons, for work on the 16th Street (U.S. 59) project that will improve drainage, widen the intersection at Main Street and add new concrete on 16th from Clark to Belmont.
— Approved the closure of North 18th Street from Washington Avenue to Main Street to allow food trucks to use the area during a 620 Shopping Event. Downtown business members of the Parsons Chamber of Commerce will host the event from 9 a.m. to about 3 p.m. June 20.
— Met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss the possible purchase of lots for use by city departments.