A measure that will strengthen city code against roaming dogs has received its first approval.
McMinnville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved amending the city’s animal ordinance with two changes – one that would remove a defense for owners whose dogs are found roaming, and one that would institute a financial penalty in such cases.
A second approval of the ordinance is required.
The city’s existing ordinance states the dog’s owner has to know the dog is at large for there to be repercussions. If approved on second and final read June 9, the changes will remove that legal loophole.
“This takes the ‘knowing’ out for dogs roaming at large and makes it a violation if your dog is roaming at large, whether you know it or not,” said Mayor Ben Newman. “It also adds the penalties.”
Dog owners could be fined up to $50 for each violation, with each day’s violation being a separate offense. That fine can be levied at a judge’s discretion.
When Newman asked if any board member had received comments from the community, either in support or in opposition of the changes, no one spoke.
“A lot of times, it will pass on first read and then comments are made,” said Newman. “Keep your ears open for anything people might be concerned about.”
McMinnville Animal Control officer David Denton requested the changes during a Streets and Sanitation Committee meeting in May. He cited instances when residents knew their dogs were roaming the neighborhood, but claimed innocence to avoid being penalized.
“We had one two weeks ago right down below the police station,” said Denton. “The dog was two blocks away. The lady told me, ‘We didn’t know it was out’ but the neighbor across the street told the police officer who responded he saw her let the dog out and go back inside.”