LIMA — Police enforcement of vicious dog violations has increased, Police Maj. Chip Protsman said Monday, after a June 2011 change in Lima law.
Protsman spoke to City Council about police actions before and after the ordinance change. Previous to the change, the violation was a fourth-degree misdemeanor, which required an officer to make an arrest and take custody of the dog. Those two factors added up to one arrest in the first half of 2011, Protsman said. In the second half of the year, after council changed the penalty to a minor misdemeanor with a citation and $150 fine, police issued 73 citations.
“It’s been a year and eight months since the change was made. In that time, we issued 131 citations,” Protsman said. “In the year and eight months prior to the change, we made four arrests.”
Calls for service regarding dogs at large have increased, Protsman said. He and 5th Ward Councilor Teresa Adams said they believe the publicity surrounding the change helped account for the increase.
“This is welcome news to many concerned residents I serve,” Adams said. “I think the increase in call numbers is from giving people a voice to make the call knowing action could be taken.”
Prior to the change, the department received 279 calls for service in the year and eight months prior to the change. Since the change, the department has received more than 400 calls for service.
Protsman said it’s unclear what the effect of the law change has been in deterring violators of the ordinance. The department will continue to track the numbers.
The city defines a vicious dog as one with a propensity to bite or attack, any dog that attacks without provocation, or any dog associated with the pit bull breed. Owners of such dogs must keep them confined on their property. When an owner walks such a dog, he or she must keep it muzzled and on a leash no longer than six feet, and the owner may walk only one dog at a time. The owner must be 18 years old and not have a felony conviction. He or she also must carry liability insurance and carry the policy when the dog is off the property.
Council President John Nixon said he was pleased to see some tangible measurement of what the legislative change has meant and said if police needed other changes they should ask for them.
Vicious dog ordinance