Hobart tables dog attack ordinance
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent February 24, 2013 5:50PM
Updated: February 25, 2013 9:58AM
HOBART — The City Council Wednesday tabled action on three proposed ordinances, including one regulating dogs and their owners, after a collection of last-minute changes were suggested.
Under the proposed new dog ordinance, an owner would have to pay a $2,500 fine if their dog made an unprovoked attack on a human, and $500 to $2,500 if the pet made an unprovoked attack on another domestic animal.
Barking, whining dogs and those uncared for or allowed to run at-large could result in a $500 fine.
The previous ordinance allowed City Court Judge William Longer some discretion in setting fines, but this ordinance would take away that discretion in the event of an attack on humans as the council worked to come up with an ordinance with more teeth to it.
Councilman Dave Vinzant, D-4th, said Longer felt there should be a range of fines for attacks on both animals and humans. For instance, he said if the attack on a human resulted in just a small scratch, the judge felt the $2,500 fine could be excessive.
The council decided to stay with the one amount in instances involving humans, however.
Mayor Brian Snedecor said he thought the $500 fine for an attack on domestic animals was a low amount, resulting in the range of fines in these cases.
“A visit to the vet could cost that much,” he said.
The fines would be in addition to any veterinarian or doctor bills incurred by the victim.
Another change in the proposed ordinance would have people reporting any violations to the police department, not the clerk-treasurer’s office as originally stated.
Councilwoman Monica Wiley, D, at-large, said it would be one person’s word over another on who did the provoking. City Attorney Anthony DeBonis said it would be subject to proof.
Wiley also said the ordinance prohibits dogs running at-large, yet dogs and their owners often play Frisbee at Festival Park, with the dogs running at-large but not harming anyone.
Vinzant said the ordinance would prevent this to continue outside a person’s yard.
Another ordinance, which would provide for partial and temporary occupancy permits, was tabled after Vinzant suggested charging a $100 fee for the permits and an additional 10 percent to cover the building department’s time and any errors that could be included.
Building official Mike Hannigan said these permits are given to both business and residential new construction and to additions in the event the work is not completed by the end of the year.
A third proposed ordinance would have raised bonds for contractors from $5,000 to $10,000, but Vinzant said he learned that a state law limits the bond size in Lake and Porter counties only, prohibiting the increase.
He said the city can increase its insurance requirement for contractors to $1 million and $3 million from the current $100,000 and $300,000.
He said the new proposed ordinance would just reflect those new amounts.
All three proposed laws are scheduled to be discussed again by the ordinance committee at 5 p.m. March 6, just prior to the next City Council meeting.