Dog fight prompts Winchester to weigh new prescriptions

WINCHESTER – The city is considering creating clearer rules for dogs in the city and giving the city’s animal control officer the power to issue citations and after two dogs were euthanized following ‘a fight.

“There was a fight between two dogs where one nearly killed the other,” Winchester Mayor Rex McIntyre said, adding that the two dogs were chained up in the same yard. “The owner gave permission to have them euthanized…they were pit bulls.”

Although this happened almost two months ago, it has prompted the city to consider stricter rules.

“It doesn’t happen very often, but we have to protect our residents,” McIntyre said.

The new ordinance, due to be presented to city council tonight, would guide officials in making decisions on a range of topics, from dog fights to people walking their dogs off leash or not picking up their dog’s waste in the someone else’s court.

Under the city’s charter, dogs must now be kept on a leash when out in public. The municipal police alone is authorized to issue a ticket.

City attorney Jon Paul Coonrod said there are two main issues when it comes to dogs – those that roam free and those classified as dangerous and at risk of harming others.

“A lot of the time the dogs are picked up, impounded, and then the owner pays a fee to get them back,” Coonrod said. “If they are dangerous, we can require them to wear a muzzle and keep them indoors.”

An additional ordinance to be considered at tonight’s meeting would allow the city’s animal control officer, Leigh Winner, to issue citations for incidents that fall under the “loose dog” category.

Any issues regarding dangerous dogs would be discussed in city court, so council members would have a say, Coonrod said.

“We would have (a clear direction) in a few days,” he said.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. today at City Hall, 5 Market St.