Dogs deemed vicious by Mount Prospect will have the opportunity for what officials call a "get out of jail free card."
The village board on Tuesday passed a change in the village code that would give vicious animals a new lease on life.
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Under the new rules, an animal declared vicious could have that declaration vacated by the village's animal control official after 18 months. To make that happen, the animal's owner must show proof that it has been through a minimum of 25 hours of remediation for aggressive behavior from an agency that provides training for vicious or dangerous animals.
The animal's owner must also get neighbors to sign a petition asking that the vicious finding be vacated.
Village Manager Michael Janonis said the object of the change is to give those dogs a chance at probation.
"We have got some people who are looking to get their dog out of jail," he said.
Mount Prospect Police Chief Michael Semkiu said 14 dogs have been designated vicious since 2006.
In 2012, the village board altered regulations to allow owners to take dogs declared vicious out for walks, something that previously was barred by village code. Under the code, dogs found to be vicious are allowed outside their homes or enclosures only if securely muzzled, secured on a leash with a three-point harness and under the constant restraint of someone 18 or older. The animal's owner must post a sign on the exterior of any enclosure in which the animal is kept reading "Warning -- Vicious Animal -- Keep Away!"
The latest change passed without much discussion, aside from questions trustees had about details in the animal code itself.
Trustee A. John Korn asked about the section calling it unlawful to "knowingly poison or cause to be poisoned any animal," particularly whether that relates to rodents.
"There have been situations where dogs have been inadvertently poisoned because of the careless use of rat poison," Mayor Arlene Juracek responded. "We simply want to avoid those kinds of situations."
Janonis added, "It doesn't happen very often but sometimes a neighbor doesn't like a dog."
Trustee Steven Polit questioned the provision prohibiting the possession of any animal which, when full grown, "normally attains a weight in excess of" 200 pounds.
"We have a couple of mastiffs in town that are 225 and 230. If you have a 199-pound dog and he gets four pounds heavy, does that make him illegal?" he asked/
"I think the word 'normally' is operative," Juracek replied.
"It's not like we're going to go around with scales and weigh them," Janonis added.