Watchung Moves to Muzzle Vicious Dogs
Dog ordinance amendments set penalties for dangerous or vicious dogs.
Dogs deemed to be dangerous can be impounded and possibly even put to death, under amendments to Watchung's dog ordinance approved at Thursday's Borough Council meeting.
The changes add language establishing a borough animal control officer, who will be responsible for impounding and determining if a dog meets the definition of either a viscious or dangerous dog.
The ordinance gives the officer the power to seize and impound a dog for attacking a person and causing serious injury, engaging in dog figting, or has been "trained, tormented, badgered, baited or encouraged to engage in unprovoked attacks upon persons or domestic animals."
A municipal court hearing will be called to determine the fate of impounded dogs, with owners possibly being subject to fines and dogs facing possible euthansia.
The ordinance was passed without comment from the public, but with a recommendation by Councilman William Franklin that the ordiance be modified to extend a waiver on licensing fees for seeing eye dogs to all service dogs, such as police canine dogs and dogs trained to assist disabled residents.
Borough Attorney Albert Cruz said the change would not be possible without delaying adoption of the ordinance, recommending instead that the council approve the introduced changes and amending it later.