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Colfax adopts stricter pit bull ordinance

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has adopted a stricter ordinance regulating pit bulls and other dangerous animals.

On a vote of four “yes” to one “no,” the village board adopted the new ordinance at the May 26 meeting.

The new ordinance, in addition to Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers, includes Presa Canarios (Canary Dog or Presa dog), Rottweilers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Tosa Inus — along with any dog that has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of any of the listed breeds of dogs.

The previous ordinance required dog owners to display a sign saying “Beware of Dog.”

The new ordinance does not require a sign.

The previous ordinance requires owners to provide proof to the clerk’s office of public liability insurance in the amount of $50,000 for a single incident of bodily injury, death or property damage.

The new ordinance requires owners to provide proof to the clerk’s office of public liability insurance in the amount of $500,000 for bodily injury or death to one person and $1 million in public liability insurance for bodily injury or death resulting from one accident or incident.

Both the previous and the new ordinance require a leash and muzzle for regulated dogs.

Regulated dogs must be kept on a four-foot leash when outside of the kennel or pen and must be muzzled, and the person must keep physical control of the leash.

Regulated dogs cannot be leashed or chained to tree, post or a building.

All regulated dogs must be kept securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or kennel except when on a leash and muzzled.

The dogs cannot be kept on a porch, patio or in any part of a house or structure that would allow the animal to exit by itself.

The new ordinance also prohibits poisonous animals and exotic animals, including non-human primates, raccoons, skunks, fox, and wild and exotic cats.

Both ordinances also require owners or keepers of regulated dogs to register the dogs with the clerk’s office and to provide two colored photographs of each dog showing the color and approximate size.

Both ordinances require owners or keepers of regulated dogs to report within ten days the removal from the village or the death of a dog, the birth of puppies to a regulated dog, the new address within the village if the regulated dog is moved, and if the dog is sold, owners must provide the name and address of the new owner.

Both ordinances also include the requirement that puppies born to regulated dogs must be removed from the village within six weeks of their birth.

Village board members did not discuss whether the six-week requirement for puppies is humane.

It is generally accepted among dog breeders that puppies should not be taken away from their mothers until they are eight or ten weeks of age, or sometimes older, depending upon the dog breed, which gives the puppies time to be weaned and to transition to solid food and to obtain sufficient antibodies from their mothers’ milk.

Voting in favor of the new ordinance were Scott Gunnufson, village president, and village trustees Susan Olson, Dave Wolf and Mark Halpin.

Village Trustee Annie Schieber voted against the motion.

Village trustees Jeremy Klukas and Carey Davis were absent from the meeting.

The new ordinance pertaining to pits bulls and other dangerous animals will go into effect upon publication in the Colfax Messenger.

The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine of $25 to $100 for the first violation and a fine of $50 to $200 for subsequent violations.

According to the penalty section, “each day that a violation of this chapter continues shall be deemed a separate violation. Any dog found to be the subject of a violation of this section shall be subject to immediate seizure, impoundment and removal from the village by village officials in the event the owner or keeper of the dog fails to remove the dog from the village. In addition to the foregoing penalties, any person who violates this chapter shall pay all expenses, including shelter, food, handling and veterinary care necessitated by the enforcement of this chapter.”