Members of a local dog club and a few canines gathered on the lawn of the Coeur d’Alene Resort on Monday to protest a potential citywide ban of up to a dozen dog breeds.
“I disagree with anything that is breed-specific because that is not fair to an individual dog or the owner,” said Michaelle Sande, president of the Coeur d’Alene Dog Fanciers club.
“Punish the deed, not the breed” is the club’s mantra.
The 50-member club will hold a public forum Thursday to discuss possible changes to Coeur d’Alene’s city ordinance. The club will also distribute information on training dogs and teaching children about safety around dogs.
Deputy City Attorney Warren Wilson said the city began discussing changes to the city ordinance regarding “dangerous dogs” following a highly publicized pit bull attack earlier this year.
Wilson researched laws in other cities nationwide. Strategies elsewhere include banning numerous breeds of dogs, requiring owners of dangerous dogs to muzzle their pets, higher licensing fees and even requiring training for the dog and its owner.
Possible changes to the city ordinance are outlined in a memo Wilson sent to the city’s Police Department, animal control officers and the Animal Control Advisory Board two weeks ago.
It will be a month or more before a proposed ordinance will be drafted and presented to the City Council, Wilson said.
In recent months, Wilson has received numerous calls and e-mails from dog owners concerned that their pets may be banned from the city.
Cheri Hollenback, of the Coeur d’Alene Dog Fanciers, said the council needs to look at the laws that are already on the books and better enforce existing laws instead of creating more laws.
“The funding for animal control is already problematic,” she said.
The club members question who would be in charge of identifying the dogs’ breeds and what would happen in the instance of mixed-breed dogs.
According to Wilson’s memo, a breed ban could include pit bulls, Rottweilers and Presa Canarios. If the city chose to be more aggressive, ownership of other dogs considered “uninsurable” by some insurance companies would also be banned.
Those dogs include Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Chow Chows, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Staffordshire bull terriers and wolf hybrids.
Ann Dickinson, of Sandpoint, came to Monday’s press conference with her 18-month-old German shepherd, Sienna.
Even though she doesn’t live in the city, Dickinson said she’d be affected by a breed ban. She brings Sienna to Coeur d’Alene for dog shows and when she comes to visit family.
Dickinson is also worried about the “ripple effect” of a ban spreading from one community to another.
Susie Malcolm brought her Alaskan Malamute, Qimmi (pronounced Kimmy), to the resort lawn to protest.
Other dogs – which wouldn’t be banned – were also at the protest in a show of support.
In other areas where dogs were banned, Hollenback said people were forced to get rid of their dogs or have them euthanized.
“It puts people in the position of having to give up a member of their family,” she said, “or be in violation of a law.”