The City Council is looking to put the bite on pit bull terriers by considering a revised animal-control ordinance that would strictly regulated them.

Heeding advice from the Davis County animal control director, the council voted unanimously recently to table the ordinance until more study is done.The city was looking at an ordinance similar to what South Jordan passed last year. That law prohibits the sale or possession of any pit bulls other than those that were already licensed in the city before the new ordinance was passed.

The South Jordan ordinance also requires all pit bull owners in the city to provide evidence of financial responsibility - $50,000 for bodily injury or damage that may result from the ownership. It also requires all pit bulls to be placed in a secure enclosure with a roof or to be muzzled and leashed at all times by a responsible person.

DeAnne Hess, Davis animal control director, told the council that it would make a big mistake by adopting such a breed-specific ordinance.

"You'll spend a lot of money in attorney's fees," Hess warned, explaining past court cases against such ordinances have centered - and been won - on the ambiguity of determining what breed a dog really is.

She said it is virtually impossible to prove the genetics of a dog today. Also, she predicted that if such an ordinance passed, many owners of pit bulls in the city would simply register them as another breed.

"We're not having massive amounts of problems with pit bulls in Davis County," Hess said.

"We discriminate against behavior, not breed," she said of Davis animal control's philosophy.

Councilman Darrell Horne argued that pit bulls are dangerous and should not be allowed in residential areas, period.

"It's a shame we can't protect the citizens, especially children (from pit bulls)," he said.

Hess said mixed-breed, large dogs caused just over half of all dog bites in Davis County during 1997 - 276 - to only 10 reported for pit bulls.

In fact, there were more cat bites - 95 - reported last year than pit bull bites.

Hess stressed she's not an advocate of pit bulls nor is she critical of South Jordan's pit bull ordinance, because she doesn't know the needs of that city.

Still, she also warned that pit bull supporters nationally have some solid arguments in place and would eventually challenge Kaysville if the ordinance is approved.

Hess said the chow breed actually causes the worst bites in the county, although any dog can become dangerous under certain conditions.

Kaysville, like all Davis County cities except Sunset, contracts with Davis County for animal control services.



Top biters

Mixed breed (large): 276

Mixed breed (small): 73

German shepherd: 54

Spaniel: 54

Chow: 35

Terrier: 18

Pit bull: 10

Other: 8