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Doggie DNA test might save Fido’s home

Staff writer

Whether a dog impounded by Marion police is a prohibited breed remains an open question, but a proposed modification to city ordinance doesn’t appear to address concerns voiced two weeks ago by the dog’s owner.

Allen Stapleford, whose dog was impounded by police weeks ago and has been living in the county with his mother since then, asked city council members two weeks ago to consider a dog’s temperament instead of its breed before banning it from the city.

“They didn’t address our issues at all last night,” Stapleford’s mother Janice Davis said Tuesday. “What he’s wanting is for (the ordinance) to be vicious-dog specific and not breed specific.”

City attorney Susan Robson Monday presented a proposed amendment to city code prohibiting ownership of Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, and Rottweilers. The amendment would give pet owners an opportunity to obtain a DNA test at their own expense to prove the animal’s breed. Any animal shown to be 51 percent or greater of a prohibited breed will be considered that breed.

City administrator Roger Holter told council members the intention of the amendment is to remove the subjectivity of how an animal appears.

Council members did not vote on the amendment.

“They’re now saying it’s OK to have a vicious dog, because this ordinance does not address a vicious dog,” Davis said.

Davis said her son’s dog is registered as an American Bully.

American Bully dogs are a recently-developed breed recognized by United Kennel Club but not yet recognized by American Kennel Club.

Bully dogs look much like pit bull terriers because they were created by breeding pit bulls and other breeds.

According to the UKC website, bully dogs have a gentle and friendly demeanor that makes them an ideal family dog despite their powerful appearance.

Robson said when Stapleford’s dog was impounded for running loose, one veterinarian identified it as a bully and another veterinarian identified it as a pit bull.

One Marion veterinary clinic can provide a DNA test that identifies breed.

Receptionist Chelsea Metz at Spur Ridge Vet Clinic said DNA testing is available through the clinic, but declined to provide a specific price for the test.

“If we have questions they can always give us a call,” Metz said.

Erin Page at Animal Health Center said although the clinic doesn’t offer DNA testing for dogs, tests are available through online marketers.

Page said not every company offering dog DNA tests identify each of Marion’s prohibited breeds, so a consumer should carefully read information provided by the company.

Dog DNA test results are available by mail with prices ranging from $79 to $199. Some test for inherited health disorders in addition to breed identification.

Council members also heard from Douglas Lind, who owns property adjoining a tract sold to the county for construction of a new county transfer station. Lind said he wants to ensure he still has access to 2 ½ acres of land he owns.

Lind also said he wanted to know what the sale would do to the value of surrounding properties, especially since the city sold the property for less than its appraised value.

He’d planned to build a retirement home there, Lind said. Although he’s changed his mind about building a home, he fears he won’t be able to sell the property at all after a transfer station is built.

Holter said Lind’s concerns had been relayed to BG Consultants, the engineering firm working with the county on the transfer station.

In other business, council members:

  • Approved renewal of the city’s Blue Cross Blue Shield agreement.
  • Approved modifications to city zoning regulations.

Last modified Feb. 1, 2018

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