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The Other Side

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Pit Bulls are declared presumptively dangerous in Marshfield and I am somewhat to blame. 

I recall the city made this declaration due to the information available at the time (2017).  Law officers were frequently confronting pit bulls at homes in a bad way, probably because the animal has a reputation that makes it attractive to some who engage in illegal activity and who encourage its aggressive nature.  Over a two-year period, there were six Dangerous Dog hearings and all of them involved a pit bull as the aggressor.  At the time, over 900 communities had placed a ban on pit bulls.  The second highest number of bans was on the rottweiler and was only 63 communities.  There was information presented to justify a ban, and there was information presented to argue against a ban.  The public was given considerable opportunity for input and the board held lengthy discussion.  In the end there were two aldermen in favor of an all-out ban, one supporting some action, and one supporting no action.  Today’s law is based on a bill I wrote to bring a compromise.

The compromise was so that violations of existing dog laws could be dealt with more swiftly, and the potential high cost of violations when involving a pit bull might sway irresponsible owners from pursuing ownership.  The rules for a pit bull are basically the same as those already mandated by existing dog laws with few exceptions.  The differences are potentially higher fines, a 50-dollar registration fee, the dog must be either be on a leash or behind a no-climb fence when outside, and only one “Dangerous Dog” is allowed per household.

I am comfortable with the bill because without it there would be a total ban on pit bulls today, which I don’t support. 

Today, responsible owners can enjoy this animal with no more than a 5o-dollar registration fee.  So far in 2021, there have not been any dangerous dog hearings, so perhaps the law has made an impact.  Enforcement is reactive based on only seventeen pit bulls being registered this year.  It is highly unlikely that Marshfield only has seventeen pit bulls (I know of five I see routinely), so even though registration enforcement is mandated by the ordinance, it is clearly not a priority, which I believe is probably a good thing, but concerning at the same time.  I just think it’s another law in Marshfield that needs a lot of work to make it consistent with the needs of our community and the city’s ability to enforce.  Hopefully, all the Marshfield dog laws will be updated and made current and enforceable sometime soon.    

“The Other Side” will be travelling to the Marshfield square next time.  I am curious to know your thoughts on both the current and future development.

Please send your polite comments to news@marshfieldmail.com with “The other Side” in the subject line, or comment on “The Other Side” facebook post on the Marshfield Mail facebook page next week.

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