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July 14. 2013 9:29PM

Manchester aldermen to consider leashes, muzzles for dogs

MANCHESTER — Dogs declared vicious, a nuisance or a menace would need to be muzzled and physically restrained on a leash while in public under a proposed vicious dog ordinance.

Such dogs also would need to be enrolled in behavioural modification training.

The ordinance received initial approval from aldermen this month and needs to proceed through several more votes, making September the earliest the ordinance could go into effect.

“These (cases) are few and far between,” Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long said Friday. “It’s not a majority of irresponsible dog owners. However, those that aren’t responsible, unfortunately, we have to make them responsible.”

Deputy City Solicitor Tom Arnold said a judge at the circuit court level would make the determination of whether a dog is declared a nuisance, menace or vicious to people or property.

Police Lt. Maureen Tessier said the ordinance will assist the department’s animal control officers by “spelling out more specific responsibilities they can have in dealing with a vicious dog,” Tessier said.

Long said aldermen reviewed ordinances from more than a half-dozen communities, including Nashua, Berlin, Keene, Concord and Portsmouth.

The ordinance also calls for those designated dogs to be:

• Physically restrained on private property by fencing sufficient to keep the animal from jumping or climbing over it;

• Spayed or neutered if not already;

• Identified by microchip or tattooing with documentation to be submitted to the city;

• Banned from entering any public “off leash” dog park within the city

It also requires owners of such dogs to notify the City Clerk’s Office when the dog dies, moves or is given over to new owners.

The ordinance isn’t limited to specific breeds.

As of Friday, the city had 10,771 licensed dogs, according to the City Clerk’s Office.

Shelley Greenglass, manager of the Manchester Animal Shelter, applauded the ordinance.

“I certainly think it’s needed,” she said. “Hopefully, it will make owners more responsible.”

She said each incident should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s not all pit bulls. It can be any dog,” said Greenglass, who has discussed the proposal with an alderman. “You put it on the owner to be responsible.”

She said the shelter handles dogs picked up by the city’s animal control officers. On Saturday, it housed three dogs under a “bite quarantine” for 10 days.

“I just wish people will be more responsible,” Greenglass said. “You can’t tell me a dog that just bit, the owners didn’t see something along the way to try to correct the problem or were putting the dog in a bad situation.”

The next step for the proposal will be consideration before the aldermanic Bills on Second Reading, which is expected to meet Aug. 6.

Aldermen have been working on the issue for about a year.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” he said.

mcousineau@unionleader.com



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