Blog of an aspiring foodie

Suggestions from a citizen – dangerous dogs ordinance

Posted by beer_chris on 19-May-2006

I just sent this to council – egged on by my Mom

First, thanks for you attention in this matter,

I am the person that was attacked by the guard dog mentioned below. I would like to encourage specific action regarding the ordinance being considered:

Please consider the following. The dog that attacked me escaped as the owner was attempting to secure the gate. It was clearly an accident. I was walking downtown, headed from my car to an Aeros game at the Toyota Center, on a public sidewalk. Accident or not, imagine if the owner of this car lot didn't have dogs for protection, but rather had a shotgun on his shoulder. If he were to have dropped the shotgun and it fired (accidentally) and injured me in a similar way as his dog ultimately did, the punishment for him would be much more serious. This dog, not unlike my hypothetical example of a shotgun, was an unsecured and poorly cared for weapon, which injured an innocent bystander due to the carelessness of the owner.

Why is this not treated in the same way as if it were a shotgun – guard dogs are WEAPONS, plain and simple.

I do not share the perspective that guard dogs are inherently 'bad' or should not be allowed at all. That's simply an untenable (and unenforceable) approach to this problem. However, the pragmatics of the matter are clear – having vicious dogs in densely populated areas of town (or at least in those areas where pedestrians are common) is a danger to the public and should not be permitted.

Therefore, my first proposal is that the dangerous animal ordinance should include a provision outlawing the possession of guard dogs in specific areas of the city where pedestrians are frequent – a sampling of these places would be schools, downtown, midtown, city parks, etc.

There simply is no reason why a used car lot on a quarter of a block in the middle of downtown (2 blocks from Toyota Center – well within its footprint of parking) needs guard dogs. These animals represent a much greater danger to the public at-large then justified by the security they provide.

I have the scars to prove this point.

Lastly, I encourage council to provide for significant enforcement penalties and methods as a part of the proposed ordinance – if the possession of guard dogs is not entirely outlawed (as I am suggesting), then enforcement becomes possible. This is (1) cost effective and (2) provides an incremental increase in public safety in the areas of town where it matters most and has the most impact.

I strongly recommend that my suggestions be implemented in the ultimate ordinance. I was bitten 1 block off of Root Square Memorial Park – not even 3 blocks from the planned downtown greenspace and the new House of Blues complex adjacent to the rail line. It simply makes no sense to allow for vicious animals to be around an area where pedestrian traffic is being encouraged.

Thank you for your consideration. I'm glad to answer any specific questions regarding this matter.

Chris H. White (resident of District E – Clear Lake)
281-486-0267 (H)
281-654-8855 (W)
Mary Ann White wrote:

Dear Council Members:

I live in District F and would like to persuade you to vote in favor of punishing owners of �dangerous dogs�, an issue coming before council in the next few weeks.

I read about dangerous dogs attacking, even killing people in Houston from time to time. I have been concerened about the issue but never personally affrected. However, my son was recently attacked by a guard dog about 2 months ago in downtown Houston. I now know that the dog owners are only “slapped on the hand” and the dog (if a first bite) is sent back to the owner, possibly to bite again.

My son was walking to the Toyota Center after parking his car several blocks away on a nearby street. He was walking on the sidewalk, passing a used car lot. The owner/manager was closing up the lot for the evening. He let his guard dogs out of their pen and was closing the gate, when 2 of the dogs squeezed through the fence/gate and attacked my son on the sidewalk. The owner/manager of the lot took my son into his office, gave him first aid, assured him the dogs had their rabies shots and told him he would cover any medical expenses (which he did). My son was bit on his left forearm which required a trip to the emergency room, stitches and a tetanus shot.

My son followed up with city animal control, the animal was confined, and found to not have rabies. He found out that a first bite dog, is returned to the owner, with only the cost of the confinement as a penalty. If an owner of a dog has trained the dog to attack, and one would assume so if being used as a guard dog, then a more severe punishment should be imposed. A significant punishment for the owner, a substantial fine with appropriate operating licenses revoked if not paid would be more appropriate – something more than what is applied now.

My son is not suing the owner of the car lot, although many people have encouraged him to do so.

As for me, I would like to have a city ordinance to better protect the citizens of Houston, not just in the downtown area but all over the city. These �guard dogs� should not be allowed in an urban environment, even as pets. The owners should be held accountable for their actions and incur significant fines and penalties. Dangerous dogs should be considered and treated as weapons, when it comes to fines, penalties and enforcement.

I understand from the limited information I have at this time that the issue coming before council is to prevent immediate return of the animals to the owners after a first bite. I sincerely hope that you will support this issue, and even increase the penalty if possible. Please consider further punishment to these dog owners. The owners TRAIN their dogs for attack, which should be considered animal abuse in the first place. BARK urged the mayor's support of the attack training as animal abuse issue in a report to the him last year.

Thank you for your time and support on this issue.

Mary Ann White
8815 Cadawac
Houston, Texas 77074
713.772.9989

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