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Published: Saturday, 5/4/2013

City Council to take up revision of dog laws

Toledo’s new rules would match state’s

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo City Council next week will consider repealing dog-related sections of the city’s municipal law, which were revised in October, 2010, with input from the Lucas County Dog Warden Advisory Committee, and instead replace it with city code that mirrors state law regarding vicious dogs.

“What this means is the dog warden under state law is required without a special contract to enforce our law because it will be the same as the state,” said Toledo Councilman D. Michael Collins, chairman of council’s law and criminal justice committee.

The state law, which went into effect May 21 and was sponsored by Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township), redefined designations of “vicious” and “dangerous” dogs; created a third, lesser category of “nuisance” dog; created a process for dog owners to appeal law enforcement’s labeling of their dogs, and placed the burden to prove the classification by clear and convincing evidence on the dog warden.

The law also removed “pit bulls” from automatic categorization as vicious dogs.

Councilman Rob Ludeman, who was a member of the Lucas County Dog Warden Advisory Committee, said the dog warden declined to enforce city law since that agency is bound by state law.

“It makes sense now for the city to amend our dog law to comply with Ohio law, and now there is no excuse for the dog warden not to enforce the city of Toledo dog law,” Mr. Ludeman said.

The city will not erase restrictions on instances of dogs being confined in vehicles or tethered in yards, Mr. Collins said. Enforcement of that was granted by the city to the Toledo Area Humane Society.

Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Collins said the city will still have to pay the dog warden for after-hours work.

Mr. Collins said overtime paid to dog warden employees costs Toledo taxpayers from $135,000 to $145,000 a year, and city residents who make up a bulk of county residents paying annually for dog tags are getting shortchanged in the deal.

Last year, Toledo City Council approved a contract with the Lucas County dog warden because of the costs to the city for handling service calls outside the office’s normal hours. That agreement, which authorized the dog warden to provide control services in the city, replaced a contract that expired on Dec. 31, 2010. Council had previously authorized several short-term contract extensions with the office.

Ms. Lyle last year said the county’s collective bargaining agreement with deputy dog wardens prohibits her from scheduling shifts to cover the hours without overtime.

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



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