This is definitely a case of man bites dog.
The question is whether that bite constitutes government overreach.
Earlier this month, the Britt City Council voted 3-1 to designate Adam Kline's 3-year-old labrador, Mya, as vicious and order her removed from city limits.
In a police report, a woman with two dogs said she was attacked by Mya while walking past Kline's house. The report said the lab grabbed one of the woman's dogs and began to bite down. The woman took her dog away from the lab, who then began to bite at the woman's stomach and arms.
Britt's police chief said the woman and dog suffered minor injuries that did not require medical attention. Kline was also cited for not having the dog restrained.
Britt does not have any ordinances on record requiring owners license their pets.
Councilor Paul Verbrugge noted that the council had put a lot of work into their vicious animal ordinance and that "we have had trouble all over the place."
Since the council's action, Kline has removed the animal to another property outside city limits.
He's lucky he could do that. We suspect there are few other animal owners who could do the same.
That's where we have trouble with Britt's law. Is a dog outside its limits somehow less "vicious" or is this ordinance just kicking a problem down the road for another local government to deal with?
And if the city's leaders have "had trouble all over the place" with animals in the city, why won't they require them to be licensed?
There is no question that Kline's dog was unrestrained and that it went after the woman's dog -- he admitted as much to police, according to the report. Based on that alone, Kline should be subject, at a minimum, to a fine. His dog should be quarantined until it is determined she wasn't rabid.
But exiling the dog seems like both government overreach and too little, too late at the same time.
Not too many owners have a choice of where their pets can live. Requiring the dog to leave the city limits could mean an owner will be faced with putting the animal down or giving it away. That means either an animal who may not deserve it will die, or that an animal with a potential behavioral problem will continue to be a problem -- just somewhere else.
There's also the possibility that an owner will simply dump the dog, with it potentially ending up in a shelter and again, becoming someone else's problem.
Britt needs to rethink this. First, if it wants to begin curbing its animal problems, it needs to have a licensing ordinance - one that addresses the number and types of pets allowed, and requires proof of the appropriate vaccinations.
Then, it needs to take another whack at its vicious animal designation. There needs to be due process that actually solves the problem -- even if it means euthanization of an animal deemed dangerous -- rather than passes it along.
Local editorials represent the opinion of the Globe Gazette editorial board, which consists of Publisher Samuel Gett, Editor David Mayberry, and Regional Editor Jim Cross. Contact the board or send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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