A proposed change to the city’s dangerous dog ordinance got some council members barking during this week’s Public Property, Safety and Works Committee meeting.
The amendment, introduced during the Monday meeting, would add a clause to the ordinance that waives the $100 fee to appeal a dangerous dog designation for owners who can prove they can’t afford the expense.
Columbus Lead Animal Control Officer Donna Winig told the committee members the change comes at the request of a local judge, who believes the city would be violating the constitutional rights of indigent dog owners by taking away their animals without providing access to the appeals process.
The city council voted in July 2013 to add the appeals process to the dangerous dog ordinance, a decision that was recommended by Platte County Attorney Carl Hart, who prosecutes criminal cases for the city.
Hart asked both the city and county to add the appeals processes to satisfy a court decision that determined dog owners aren’t given due process without it.
The city council unanimously approved that request, but some members are less agreeable this time around.
Committee member Jim Bulkley questioned how a resident could afford to take care of a dog, but not have enough money to pay the appeals fee if the animal is deemed dangerous.
“I really have an issue with appeasing a judge because of that,” he said.
Rich Jablonski also opposed the proposed change.
He believes dangerous dog owners should be required to pay the $100 fee, as well as other expenses that come with the designation.