Dog Complaints Prompt New Somerset Ordinance

There's been fear in one Somerset neighborhood. Neighbors say one man has already been bitten by a vicious dog that escaped his owner's underground fence.

And one woman, who didn't want to be identified, says her son was nearly attacked in her own garage.

“My youngest son was up against the cabinets. And the dog was probably 4 feet from him, with his teeth showing. He was growling getting ready to attack him,” she said.

That scare prompted her and other neighbors to take their complaints to city hall, where they were successful in helping to convince city leaders that the current dog law, passed in 1979, needed an update.

“Just as an example of how outdated it was, the yearly license was $1.50,” said Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese.

Part of the problem now is that when there's any animal problem, the dog warden is the only one's that's called. City police can't do much of anything. The ordinance will change that.

Police will be able to answer complaints and issue fines, which could range from $50 to $250.

“We’re looking at a situation where we would ask the court to declare their dog a vicious dog. And the dog would be taken away or destroyed,” said Weise.

Which is good news for people who say they've been frightened for far too long.

“There's been no leash law. The dogs just ran free through the neighborhood. There's been nothing to stop them from coming through your yard, terrorizing you or anything.”

The ordinance also requires owners to remove their animal excrement, prohibits the awarding of live animals as prizes, and outlaws noisy barking or yelping.

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