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City’s dog ordinance, restructuring police department aired

Just what makes a dog vicious – nature or nurture? And are some breeds more dangerous than others?<!—->.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Just what makes a dog vicious – nature or nurture? And are some breeds more dangerous than others?

Ironton City Councilman Jim Tordiff Thursday night asked members of the police department if the city’s dog ordinance specifically prohibits any certain breed of dog.

Tordiff said he has gotten phone calls lately from residents who are concerned about a neighbor’s pit bull. The dog is kept inside a fenced yard, but often behaves aggressively, jumping and barking when people walk past that fence.

Neighbors fear what the dog might do if it ever gets out of its yard. He declined to name the residents who called him about this issue.

Police officer Pam Neal said she wasn’t sure if the ordinance prohibited any certain breed, but does require all dogs to be on leash or fenced, and does contain wording about what constitutes "aggressive" canine behavior.

Neal and other members of the police department located the ordinance after the council meeting. The ordinance does define a vicious dog as one that has killed or caused injury without provocation, and specifies a pit bull as a dangerous dog.

In other matters, city attorney Mack Anderson said it is the official opinion of the city’s legal team that Mayor Bob Cleary does have the authority to restructure the police department. Anderson said, in his opinion, the city charter gives the mayor that power.

Council gave second reading Thursday night to an ordinance that would allow the mayor to eliminate one captain’s position and two sergeant’s positions within the department.

Some police officers oppose the plan on the grounds it would reduce the captain over the detective bureau to a shift commander, and thus stymie the department’s ability to fight crime. Others oppose the elimination of a position that was created more than 10 years ago.

Cleary has stated he would like the ability to reduce numbers if the city’s financial condition worsens.