The Law Blog of Oklahoma

OKC Considers Amendments to Dangerous Dog Ordinances

Posted: Friday, June 23, 2017

After a woman was mauled to death by two at-large pit bulls in a northwest Oklahoma City neighborhood, the City is considering amendments to its dangerous dog ordinances.

In April, Cecile Short and her small dog were fatally mauled by two large and aggressive dogs that neighbors had complained about being on the loose before. Investigators found that the fence where the dogs were kept had a large, apparently old hole in it that had been blocked by old wood and an ice chest--insufficient means to keep such large dogs constrained. The dogs' owner, Antwun Burks, has since been charged with second degree manslaughter in accordance with state law.

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma City Council met to discuss proposed amendments to the city's ordinances regarding menacing and aggressive dogs. 

According to the proposal, the purpose of the amendments is "[t]o heighten the ability of Animal Welfare staff to provide for the safety of area residents by enhancing the process for the regulation of menacing and dangerous dogs found running at large, and providing for enhanced penalties to be imposed upon the owners of these dogs upon conviction in the Municipal Court. The ordinances also clarify the requirements for reclaiming an impounded animal, including registration, spay/neuter and micro-chipping."

The amendments would specifically define a "menacing dog," and would allow animal control to impound animals believed to be menacing or dangerous. They would also impose certain conditions for the registration and proper enclosure of menacing or dangerous animals, and would provide enhanced penalties for dog owners who do not comply with requirements.

If an animal is impounded by Animal Control, the dog would be spayed or neutered before being returned to its owner. Additionally, the owner would be required to pay a fee, and Animal Control would check the owner's home to ensure that there was a proper and safe enclosure for the animal before releasing it to its owner.

At a hearing to discuss the proposed amendments, several people--including Cecile Short's daughters--spoke in favor of the tighter restrictions and enhanced penalties. No one spoke to oppose the proposal.

The final vote on the amendments to the city's dangerous dogs ordinances will be held on July 5.

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