Utah City Raises Insurance Requirement for Pitbulls

July 25, 2005

Springville, Utah’s City Council has voted unanimously to tighten Springville’s pit bull ordinance, including raising the amount of insurance pit bull owners must carry and changing who must be with a dog when it was not fenced in.

The city requires all pit bull owners to register their dogs, contending that the dogs are naturally dangerous, and that the city needs to keep a closer watch on them.

No incidents of pit bull aggression sparked the changes this week. City Councilman J. Niel Strong said changing the ordinance was a precautionary measure.

“Pit bulls have a reputation for dogs that can do a lot of damage to people, and I think what we’re trying to do is safeguard our citizenry by making sure the dogs are taken care of the right way,” he said.

City Manager Layne Long said the insurance requirement was increased from $20,000 to $50,000.

Under the new rules, a pit bull has to be leashed and under the responsibility of its owner when leaving a fenced yard. Previously, any adult could be in control of a leashed pit bull.

Provo, Orem, Pleasant Grove and Lehi all have ordinances requiring dogs be licensed and leashed any time they are out of a fenced yard. But none of the cities have any breed-specific requirements.

Pit bulls’ aggression has been a hot topic of late since Denver resumed its pit bull ban in May.

The ordinance in Springville applies to any dog that exhibits characteristics conforming to the standards established by certain nationwide canine clubs, the majority of those traits or any dog bred for fighting.

The Centers for Disease Control, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States examined 20 years of dog-bite data and concluded that pit bulls and Rottweilers caused the most deaths.

But the researchers also said that fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog-bite injuries and that the number of bites per breed simply seems to rise with their popularity.

Springville pit-bull owners Jamie Nelson and John Nelson say pit bulls should not be singled out.

“I think it should be just,” John Nelson said. “I think there should be a reason why.”

“I think that there needs more of a reason for it than the type of dog they are,” Jamie Nelson said.

Jamie Nelson said she was not even aware of the ordinance until she was ticketed in March. She has never lived anywhere that singled out a certain type of dog like this.

The ticketing and subsequent attempts to get Chilly registered kept the Nelson household in near panic at the thought of losing a dog who has become a member of the family.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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