Coun­cil votes to mod­ify dan­ger­ous dog or­di­nance

The Record (Troy, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Michael Gwiz­dala mg­wiz­[email protected]­i­tal­first­media.com Re­porter

TROY, N.Y. >> At its Thurs­day evening meet­ing, the Troy City Coun­cil voted unan­i­mously, 7- 0, to mod­ify its 2006 dan­ger­ous dog or­di­nance.

By chang­ing the word­ing from “shall” to “may,” per­tain­ing to when a deemed dan­ger­ous dog at­tacks a hu­man or an­other dog, the mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the code, in essence, pro­vides a judge more dis­cre­tion on a case by case ba­sis.

The change comes fol­low­ing the con­tro­versy and pub­lic out­cry sur­round­ing an Oct. 25 in­ci­dent when a pit bull mix named “Luna” charged up two flights of an out­side stair­way, broke through a safety stair­way, at­tacked a neigh­bor’s dog, bit the dog and then bit the dog’s owner. Af­ter agree­ing to have “Luna” eu­th­a­nized in Troy City Court on Nov. 1, the owner changed her mind bring­ing a no­tice be­fore Judge Turner in Troy City Court on Nov. 9. When “Luna’s” owner and the Cor­po­ra­tion Coun­sel couldn’t come to an agree­ment, the case was brought to Rens­se­laer County Court, wherein “Luna” was granted a stay.

This change, how­ever, will not have any bar­ring on “Luna’s” case as Troy City Cor­po­ra­tion Coun­sel At­tor­ney James Caruso noted at Thurs­day’s meet­ing.

“Make no mis­take about it, how­ever, this is not “Luna’s Law,” if we amend this dan­ger­ous dog or­di­nance it has noth­ing to do with her case be­cause it pre­ceded the amend­ment to the or­di­nance,” Caruso noted.

Caruso also chal­lenged char­ac­ter­i­za­tions sur­round­ing the case.

“This was no ac­ci­dent as peo­ple keep say­ing in the me­dia and

on so­cial me­dia. This was no ac­ci­dent, no lit­tle doggie play, not a cute lit­tle puppy, this was a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion. This oc­curred on a per­son’s pri­vate prop­erty, not in a com­mon area, an­other mis­state­ment made in so­cial me­dia and the owner of that dog was also bit,” Caruso said of what tran­spired.

“Oddly what’s been not re­ported is the owner of this dog stood by while this at­tack took place, he told my deputy cor­po­ra­tion coun­sel, he was too busy tak­ing out his trash,” Caruso added.

Ahead of the full City Coun­cil vote, coun­cil mem­ber Mark McGrath spoke of the need for per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity by dog owners as well, at Tues­day’s Pub­lic Safety meet­ing.

“I’m the proud owner of two large dogs and the one thing about those dogs they’re good dogs but they’re un­pre­dictable. They’re my re­spon­si­bil­ity, it’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity that they don’t go out and at­tack other dogs or at­tack other peo­ple, it’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity. What we’ve done here is we’re just say­ing if a dog bites some­body you put the dog down but what about the owners? They’re re­spon­si­ble,” McGrath said.

On the pass­ing of Thurs­day night’s leg­is­la­tion, coun­cil mem­ber Anasha Cum­mings gave his re­ac­tion to the vote chang­ing the word­ing in the or­di­nance.

“I think as noted by the cor­po­ra­tion coun­sel this is cer­tainly an is­sue that has sparked broad pub­lic out­rage and con­cern. When those kinds of things hap­pen it’s al­ways nice when we can re­flect on it and change our process. This is a small way and there are other ways that we are con­tin­u­ing to ex­plore. What we’ve taken the step of tonight it to make sure the code that was changed a few years ago to be very strin­gent and in­flex­i­ble, of­fers more op­por­tu­nity for a case by case un­der­stand­ing of what is hap­pen­ing with a par­tic­u­lar dog. When some­one gets bit is it be­cause that dog is truly dan­ger­ous or is it be­cause some­thing has gone awry with the treat­ment or care of that dog,” Cum­mings said.

“I’m cer­tainly glad to sup­port an amend­ment to make it so judges and lawyers and ev­ery­one else has a lit­tle more le­niency and flex­i­bil­ity on that front and we’ll be con­tin­u­ing to work with them to make sure that when dan­ger­ous dogs are found in our city, they’re able to be treated in a way that is most hu­mane in terms of if pos­si­ble re­train­ing, if pos­si­ble kept in a safe place and only in the most ex­treme cases mov­ing to­ward iso­la­tion and to­wards de­struc­tion,” Cum­mings noted of the added flex­i­bil­ity in the or­di­nance.

“Luna” re­mains housed at the Mo­hawk Hud­son Hu­mane So­ci­ety in Me­nands, while she and her owners await a fur­ther rul­ing in the case.

MICHAEL GWIZ­DALA — TROY RECORD

Troy City Cor­po­ra­tion Coun­sel At­tor­ney James Caruso speaks about Troy’s dan­ger­ous dog or­di­nance at a City Coun­cil meet­ing.

MICHAEL GWIZ­DALA — TROY RECORD

Troy City Coun­cil meet­ing.

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