Feb. 25—Even though the updated animals ordinance still has to go through two more readings, Newton resident Donna Stumme was overjoyed by the efforts of city staff and told them as much during the Feb. 20 council meeting but stopped herself from going on about it any further in case she got too emotional.
“High applause,” she said. “I’ve got to sit down or I’m going to start tearing up. This has been immense and you’re staying ahead.”
The Newton City Council on Feb. 20 passed the first reading of an ordinance amending the city code regarding animals. Several of the changes were created in part by resident concerns regarding violent dogs and recent bite incidents. Stumme requested the city revisit its code back in August 2022.
Two more readings must be approved before the city council adopts the newly amended ordinance. Here are the following changes to the code:
—Language clean-up eliminating references to the Jasper County Animal Rescue League
—Allows dogs to be off leash in a dog park
—Requires signage for property owners who use underground fencing to contain dogs
—Adds prohibitions and limitations on tethering during certain time periods
—Add a dangerous dog designation and re-defines vicious dog
—Requires quarantine in most dog bite cases that occur in public
—Expands the definitions of injury to: fatal, disabling, serious and minor
—Prohibits dogs deemed dangerous or vicious in other jurisdictions from residing in Newton
—Prohibits dogs deemed problematic from using city-owned dog parks
—Increase the insurance requirement for problematic and dangerous dogs from $50,000 to $125,000
All dogs declared “vicious” prior to the passage of this proposed ordinance will be re-classified as “dangerous” dogs.
A vicious dog is the most severe classification and is defined as any dog declared an unacceptable risk to public safety. Vicious dogs will have caused the death or disabling injury to a person, or have on more than one occasion killed or inflicted injury on a domestic animal.