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Doggone! Man wants dog home

City banned breeds rule challenged

Staff writer

For two months, Allen Stapleford’s dog has lived with his mother. Now he wants his dog back.

The dog wasn’t at his mother’s by choice. Stapleford’s free-roaming dog was picked up and removed because of its similarity to breeds banned by city regulations.

Stapleford talked to city council members Tuesday, asking that the dog ordinance be revised to consider an individual dog’s temperament instead of forbidding pit bulls, Rottweilers, and dogs that appear to be predominantly those breeds.

“I’ve already got a dog on that list,” Stapleford said. “She was taken from me a couple months ago and she has been at my mom’s ever since.”

“The reason the dog was taken from you is that the dog was at large,” police chief Tyler Mermis said.

Stapleford answered that someone had opened the gate and let the dog loose, but Mermis said the gate showed the dog had struck it in an attempt to get out.

Stapleford shared the American Kennel Club’s definition of aggressive dogs and legislation position statement on dangerous dog control.

AKC “strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be dangerous based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs,” its statement reads.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt told Stapleford council members will start looking at the ordinance.

After Stapleford left, Heitschmidt said although pit bulls rank eighth on the aggressive dog list and dachshunds rank second, he’d rather be bitten by a dachshund than a pit bull.

“It’s a matter of how much damage they do if they bite,” Heitschmidt said.

Council members still declined to send dues to the county economic development corporation and said they are not ready to appoint a second board member.

Heitschmidt remains opposed because he believes not all of the questions he earlier submitted have been answered. The corporation has not provided a budget, he said.

Mike Beneke, a county appointee to the board, told council members the corporation is waiting to hire an executive director before finalizing its budget.

“We will not have a definite business plan until we get an executive director,” Beneke said. “Anything we could give you before that is only a budget proposal.”

Council members voted 3-1, with Heitschmidt opposed and Costello absent, to accept the county’s offer of $6,500 for four acres of land to build a new transfer station.

Heitschmidt said his opposition is based on the price being below the appraised value.

“I’ve known the county has paid more than the appraised value for other properties,” Heitschmidt said.

City administrator Roger Holter, however, recommended the council accept the price as offered.

“Higher land prices, all that accomplishes is each citizen of Marion County paying more than their share,” Holter said.

Last modified Jan. 18, 2018

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