Kyle stiffens animal control ordinance

Just over six months after a Kyle family’s pet dog was killed by three pit bulls that broke into their backyard, the Kyle City Council toughened its animal control ordinance.

The measure, which passed its second reading on a unanimous vote, would require dogs which have been caught running loose more than three times in a 12-month period to be removed from the city. It also calls for the owners of dogs deemed dangerous to prominently display signs, and authorized animal control officers to dictate where those signs should be placed.

It was July 29, 2019 when the Gordon family pet was fatally injured in the back yard of their home in Kensington Trails. In an unrelated incident, two pit bulls were blamed for the back yard death of a dog in the Steeplechase subdivision.

Council member Dex Ellison, who sponsored the agenda item, called it a chance to right a wrong.

In the wake of the two attacks over the summer, Ellison said he saw the revision of the ordinance as “an opportunity to make some improvements in our dangerous animal ordinance,” taking into account law enforcement and input from residents, on “how to prevent some of the hardships and pain that the Gordons went through as well as the other family, so that these things aren’t the norm.”

Often, he continued, “we see at every level of government that things happen and there’s talk about how things should be changed and nothing happens … Something did happen and we’re trying to change the law to make it better.”

Officer Briana Brecher of the Kyle Police Department said the ordinance was basically overhauled, rewritten and reordered. “We made the dangerous dog portion stronger with more follow up ability.” She also vowed that “every case is going to court, unless the animal is surrendered to the shelter.” In the case of the animals that killed the Gordons’ pet, the owner was allowed to keep the offending dogs on his property.

Council member Tracy Scheel asked about efforts to get the word out to all Kyle residents. “If we don’t, it’s going to cause a lot of issues and pain.

Shonte Gordon also addressed the council, thanking its members and the police for their actions in the matter. “Based on the changes I feel our concerns and issues were heard.”

Violators of the ordinance can be assessed a fine of up to $500 per day the violation continues. The ordinance requires all animals more than four months of age to be licensed annually and vaccinated against rabies in accordance with state law. Owners found to be “habitual offenders” (defined as someone who has received two or more final convictions or whose animal has been impounded and in the shelter three or more times in a 12-month period) may have their animals’ licenses revoked and will be ineligible for future licensing.

The ordinance devotes a lot of attention to dangerous dogs, and specifies that any person involved in a dangerous dog incident has 24 hours to report it. Once report is filed the animal will be impounded, and if the owner does not surrender the animal, it will be seized. Owners will bear full cost of the impoundment and any associated expenses and the matter will go to municipal court.

The law allows for dogs deemed dangerous to be licensed, but the owner would have to insure the animal for at least $250,000 to cover damages resulting from an attack. Owners whose dogs have been deemed dangerous must keep them in enclosures, and must inform Animal Control when the dog is moved from that enclosure.

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