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More must be done to address Newton’s vicious dog issue

Published: Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 12:03 p.m. CDT

There are a lot of kudos to go around after Monday night’s city council meeting and discussion about dog attacks and vicious dog ordinances.

The council did its part by inviting the public to speak out, and by listening when they did. Citizens did their part by engaging with the council and letting them know what they thought should be done.

That is how responsive, representative government is supposed to work.

But no one should be under the illusion — councilor or citizen — that the actions taken Monday night constitute a complete resolution of the matter. The streamlining of the animal control ordinances that occurred Monday would have been sorely needed 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

But times have changed. An objective review of animal control issues in the City of Newton over the last several years show there is a growing problem with agressive breeds of dogs — and not just any specific breed — that continues to get more dangerous to the public with each passing year.

The primary responsibility of government is to promote and protect public safety. Any action taken with regard to the issue of aggressive dogs in our community should start with one simple question: “Does this prevent the next dog attack, or make it less likely to happen?”

Sadly, with regard to action taken Monday night, the answer is a resounding “no.”

At the very least, there should be a mechanism of identifying vicious dogs before they attack, and for ensuring they are muzzled when out in public and that their owners take appropriate precautions — for example, adequate kennels and fencing — to ensure the public’s safety. Anything less is merely kicking the can down the road until the next tragedy occurs.

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