Galesburg group recommends animal control law changes

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Galesburg’s city council is considering suggested a list of recommendations to change and strengthen the city’s animal control laws.

The Animal Control Working Group was formed after residents and city officials debated over problems residents were having with unrestrained and vicious dogs in Galesburg.  The held public hearings and several committee meetings since it was formed.

Seven-year-old Ryan Maxwell died of injuries he suffered when he was attacked by a dog in the back yard of a Galesburg home.  The dog was owned by family friends and no charges were filed in the case.

A report released July 19, 2013 lists ten steps the committee thinks the city can take to make Galesburg animal control laws more effective.

The report cites primary concerns as resident complaints about feeling unsafe because of loose or aggressive dogs and requests for a more effective and consistent system for handling animal control complaints and mistreatment of animals.

While they think the Humane Society can continue to shelter animals, the committee recommends reassigning animal control enforcement to the city’s police department.

The committee recommended the city reduce limits on dog ownership from the current maximum of four adult dogs or cats to a max of two dogs per household.

The committee recommends changing the language of city ordinances to be more specific concerning tethering of dogs.  They recommend the city council consider limiting or prohibiting tethering of dogs, saying it can contribute to dogs becoming territorial or possibly mistreated.

The group says Galesburg’s current leash law is insufficient.  Part of their recommendation would allow for animals to be on solid leashes no longer than six feet long and held by someone mentally and physically competent to hold the leash.  Galesburg law also allows for a dog to be off a leash in public if the animal is “under the complete control of a competent person and obedient to that person’s command,” an allowance which the committee suggests should be removed.

The committee also suggests progressive penalties for people who repeatedly violate the city’s animal ordinances and considering barring repeat offenders from owning a dog in Galesburg.  They also recommended prohibiting people convicted of animal cruelty from owning pets in Galesburg.

Improving registration enforcement and requiring all dogs to be spayed or neutered are also among the group’s recommendations.

prohibiting or limiting tethering of dogs; amending the city’s current leash law; increasing penalties for repeat violators; improving registration enforcement; prohibiting those convicted of animal cruelty from owning pets in Galesburg; requiring all dogs to be spayed or neutered; modifying how the city defines a dangerous or vicious dog and better education for the public.

Read the full report from the Galesburg Animal Control Working Group – click here.