Changes may be coming to pet owners in South Bend - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Changes may be coming to pet owners in South Bend

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Pet owners in South Bend may soon see some changes to how they obtain licenses for their animals. South Bend Common Council Member Valerie Schey is the sponsor of Bill 1714. This bill would propose such changes to breed-specific rules, anti-tethering, and reduce licenses fees. 

A special committee was created to discuss possible revisions. On Thursday night, a public meeting was held that included Schey and members of the Animal Control Administration to get community members responses to the potential changes.

Currently American Pitbull Terriers and mixes of that breed are automatically deemed dangerous in South Bend. "This new ordinance will be replacing breed specific regulation with behavior specific regulation," Schey said.

This means that a resident could call the South Bend Animal Care and Control if the person feels threatened by any kind of dog, 5Animal Care and Control would send officers to study the dogs behavior and go through the process to determine if that specific dog is dangerous. "Regardless of breed if the dog has been a consistent nuisance or issue, regardless of breed the dog could be deemed dangerous," Schey said.

A couple of dog owners have been in favor of this proposed change. Pitbull owner Sean Conley owns a 10-year-old pitbull. "I'm definitely for it. I believe that certain dogs are not actually as dangerous as they say based on the breed," Conley said.

Andrew Rhoades is a South Bend dog owner who may be affected by this possible changes. Even though he doesn't own a pitbull, he still supports moving to a behavior based test. "I've known many pitbulls to be very, very friendly and some of the nicest dogs that I've ever seen," Rhoades said.

The bill will also include an anti-tethering section. This aims to prevent people from getting a dog and simply tying it or chaining it in the backyard. Schey says dogs living under these conditions tend to be more aggressive and are more likely to try to bite.

Another portion of the bill that was recently added is a cite license. Schey says this is a way for dog owners to be rewarded for their responsible ownership. The cite license would allow owners of multiple animals to pay a reduced priced as long as the animals have been spayed or neutered. Even though the person owns multiple animals, he or she would only pay a flat rate of 25 dollars to obtain all of the licenses.

Manager of South Bend Animal Care and Control, Matt Harmon says these changes are needed because current rules are too vague. He believes these new changes will not only help his employees, but the general public to understand animal welfare legislation. "In the future, with this current revision someone will be able to open up the file on the Internet and say here is what is expected of me, here's what I'm suppose to do. It's black and white at that point," Harmon said.

The bill will go up for a vote on Monday, April 28.

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