Peoria Leaders Consider Changes to Animal Laws

By Denise Jackson

May 20, 2013 Updated May 20, 2013 at 7:18 PM CDT

PEORIA,Ill. -- A warning going out to owners of dangerous pets. Peoria city leaders are looking at proposals aimed at cracking down on dog owners whose pets attack people.

Even though warmer weather has arrived some Peoria residents are weary of taking a walk in neighborhoods with a heavy concentration of dogs left unattended.

"They're just in their fence or they're tethered and that tether is stretched as far as it can go. You're afraid that it's gonna break and they're gonna jump the fence," said Jackson Corners Neighborhood Association President Mary Genzel.

At large Peoria City Council member Beth Akeson held a meeting Monday to discuss ways to change the city's animal ordinance. Under current laws, nuisance dog owners are not easily identified. One proposal would label a dog owner as reckless after three violations. Such individual could lose dog owner privileges for a period of time or be prohibited all together from owning the pet.

"Dangerous and vicious dogs give people the sense that they can't walk on the streets or play in yards or in public space with absolute certainty that they'll be safe," Akeson said.

Some pet owners at the meeting raised concern about targeting certain dogs like pit bulls which police say can be more of a problem.

"I think that breed specific legislation is not a good way to go when you are looking at trying to stop a problem with violent animals, " said pet owner Matt Colgan.

Peoria County Animal Protection Services Director Lauren Malmberg said raising awareness is important.

"When they see something that causes concern, before it rises to the level of a dog bite or attack, that they report it to animal control so we can investigate and possibly stop something before it really gets started" she said.

Malmberg said the city and county both have progressive animal ordinance policies but say about 350 people throughout the county suffer dog bites each year. Akeson hopes to have recommendations for the full city council by September.

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