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Call for Tougher Dog Ordinances in Wake of Attack

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Some city lawmakers say in the wake of a vicious attack by two pit bulls on a Buffalo teenager it's time for a new ordinance to deal with dangerous animals.

Fourteen-year-old Kenyata Owens continues to recover from severe wounds caused by unleashed dogs that attacked her July 15th in Houghton Park. Some Common Council members say they want to begin work this September on a law that would prevent dog attacks.

South District Council Member Mary Martino says a law is "desperately" needed. She suggests the legislation should be drafted to deal with "dangerous animals," though not targeting a "specific breed" of dog. Martino says there have been a number of incidents in her district over the past few years caused by vicious dogs.

"When I was out walking door to door I found a girl that had stitches all over her face. The dog had also grabbed the child by her arm. She was only three or four years old," Martino said. "I'm sure this child will be scarred for life, not just physically but mentally from the trauma she's been through."

City Clerk Charles Michaux says there are laws the city could place on the books to deal with "dangerous dogs." He cites one example under state law.

"It states that if any dog shall attack any person who was peacefully conducting themselves, the dog could be destroyed by anyone who witnesses the attack without any fear of liability," Michaux said.

Michaux says the clerk's office does its best to respond to complaints of unleashed dogs throughout the city.

"If someone does call to tell us people are letting their dogs run at large, we do try to time it so we can send people out there. We will issue a summons, but basically it is a manpower problem," he explained. "Police, parking enforcement or any peace officer can issue a summons for any dog that is not on a leash."

The clerk's office bi-annual "door to door" search for "unlicensed dogs" is underway. Michaux say it's mandated by the state and is not in response to the recent attacks. So far, he says, more than 100 residents have received summonses.