Elgin softens stance on pit bulls

Posted3/5/2010 12:01 AM

Calling it a compromise, Elgin leaders have toned down a new batch of laws aimed at controlling pit bulls.

"It's an attempt to try and compromise with concerns people have," said Councilman Robert Gilliam. "We're not set in stone. We're not trying to ram it down people's throats."


Under the proposed changes, pit bulls will still be declared "dangerous dogs" and violators of the lengthy ordinance still face fines of $1,000.

But city leaders have proposed:

• reducing the cost of a three-year license from $100 to $50;

• lowering the amount of liability insurance for homeowners or renters with pit bulls from $500,000 to $100,000;

• eliminating a requirement for pit bull owners to obtain a special permit from police when driving through town, visiting or taking their dog to an Elgin veterinarian;

• axing a requirement that pit bull owners post a 2-foot by 2-foot sign outside their homes warning of a "dangerous dog";

• and allowing pit bulls to run free in a backyard - as long as they are muzzled and there is at least a 3-foot-tall fence. Before, a 6-foot fence was required if an unmuzzled pit bull was to run in a yard untethered.

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Mayor Ed Schock said he proposed changes shortly after hearing resident complaints at the city's Feb. 24 meeting.

"We heard some good arguments against these things. We basically stuck with the ordinance as written, but with these changes. I fully support them," he said.

Under the proposal, pit bulls still must be muzzled when outside one's home or walked.

If walked, the pit bull must be supervised by someone 18 or older and on a non-retractable 6-foot-long leash.

Pit bulls also must be spayed and neutered, have rabies shots and be microchipped.

The council took up the matter - part of the city's first revision of its animal control ordinance since 1986 - after residents and pit bull attack survivors complained last summer.

Councilman John Prigge, who along with Councilman Mike Warren formed a four-vote majority to advance the measure last month, also said he is OK with the proposed changes.

"We're committed, but we're not against sound input by the people who are going to be affected most by this legislation, which is Elgin citizens," Prigge said. "This is the right thing to do."

The council meeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, in the Heritage Ballroom at The Centre, 100 Symphony Way, Elgin.


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