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Council committee subpoenas dog warden over law changes

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Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle will appear a meeting on Monday to review changes to the city's vicious dogs ordinance.

THE BLADE
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A Toledo City Council committee on Monday will review changes to the city’s new vicious dogs ordinance and Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle was subpoenaed to appear by the chairman Friday.

Councilman D. Michael Collins, chairman of the law and criminal justice committee, sent a seldom-used subpoena to Ms. Lyle to command her to appear Monday morning.

Mr. Collins and Councilman Rob Ludeman said Ms. Lyle has declined to enforce parts of the new city law, which was passed in October, 2010, and established steep fines for dog bites. The law considers behavior rather than just breed when classifying a dog as a threat.

“Based upon the testimony she gave during [a public hearing last year on the then-proposed law], as it relates to repealing the existing statute and enacting the new law, and since we are going to tweak the new ordinance, I want her input,” Mr. Collins said. “I was also concerned about her reluctance to enforce the law as council has passed it.”

Additionally, Mr. Collins said her office was called three times this week in an attempt to ask her to attend the meeting, but a return call was never received.

Mr. Collins said council will debate what role the city’s police department will play in enforcing dog laws, including issuing summons to dog owners, seizing vicious dogs, and notifying owners of their responsibility as it relates to the level of threat as defined by law.

He said Ms. Lyle refused to categorize a dog that recently attacked one of his constituents near the former Southwyck Mall location.

Ms. Lyle on Friday said she plans to attend the 10:30 a.m. meeting, and that a subpoena was unnecessary.

She declined to respond to statements that she has refused to enforce parts of the city’s new dog law.

“I am uncomfortable because we are in negotiations for a new contract and nothing has been passed,” she said.

Council is set to vote Tuesday on a new one-year contract with the dog warden. According to the legislation, the city tentatively has agreed to terms with the Lucas County commissioners for dog warden services for a one-year period.

Under the proposed terms, the dog warden would agree to enforce certain provisions of Toledo Municipal Code, including the section titled “Rabies Immunization Required,” but the dog warden will not enforce other provisions, including a section titled “Dogs Which Pose a Threat to Public Safety.”

The regulations replaced the city’s “vicious dogs” law, which a Toledo Municipal Court judge found unconstitutional in January, 2010. The former law dealt primarily with setting restrictions on “pit bulls” and “pit bull” mixes; the new and more extensive rules do not discriminate by dog breed and are aimed at promoting responsible ownership.

Council voted unanimously in favor of the regulations. The law creates new “level one” and “level two” threat classifications for nuisance and dangerous dogs.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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