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MailTribune.com
  • Medford looks at possible pit-bull ban

    Sterilization also an option; Medford officials concerned with numerous reported bitings, attacks on other animals
  • A pit-bull ban or sterilization program are some of the steps the Medford City Council might consider to clamp down on a growing number of attacks by dangerous breeds.
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  • A pit-bull ban or sterilization program are some of the steps the Medford City Council might consider to clamp down on a growing number of attacks by dangerous breeds.
    In the past three years, 89 reports of dogs biting humans or other animals have been received by the Medford Police Department.
    Pit bulls were involved in half the attacks, and pit bulls or pit bull mixes were responsible for eight of the 11 fatal attacks on other animals.
    The council will hold a study session at noon today at City Hall, 411 W. Eighth Street, to discuss possible ways to address the problem.
    The council could consider an outright ban on pit bulls, or it could require sterilization, muzzling, special housing or liability insurance. The council could also decide not to change existing laws.
    Councilor Karen Blair said recent attacks by dangerous dogs against other dogs prompted her to ask the city for more information about the issue.
    "There are few people that can handle a dog that strong, particularly when its jaws naturally lock," Blair said. "Irresponsible people bring unlicensed dogs to play in the middle of downtown."
    On Nov. 24, 2013, in the 1400 block of South Dakota Avenue, a grandmother was pushing her grandson in a stroller with a small dog walking alongside on a leash. A pit bull escaped from a fenced yard and attacked the little dog, which was later euthanized because of its injuries. The pit bull owner was cited for failing to control his dog.
    On Sept. 27, 2013, three dogs, two of which were pit bulls, attacked another dog in Hawthorne Park. Police say bystanders punched and kicked the three dogs. The victim dog received a 6-inch gash and required $4,000 in veterinary bills. The attacking dogs were later euthanized.
    Blair said she wants to review how other cities have dealt with dangerous dogs before coming to any conclusions.
    In her own neighborhood in west Medford, Blair said a neighbor who grows medical marijuana has two pit bulls that guard his crop.
    She said she's afraid of walking on that side of the street and is concerned the dogs could get loose and attack neighbor children.
    She said she has nothing against people who have pit bulls or other dogs as long as they take full responsibility for them.
    Some cities have banned pit bulls and other dangerous dogs from local parks.
    Medford is considering adding small and large dog parks in Hawthorne Park as part of a $1.5 million remodel.
    "If we're going to attempt to put a ridiculous dog park in the middle of Hawthorne Park, we need to know what we're in for," Blair said.
    She said she would like to see some other way of improving Hawthorne Park.
    Other cities have opted for outright bans of pit bulls or sterilization of any pit bull.
    Some Oregon cities, such as Nyssa and Malin, have placed restrictions on dangerous dogs. Baker City is considering an ordinance restricting dangerous dogs.
    In Idaho, Payette County has banned pit bulls. In California, counties such as San Francisco, San Bernardino and Riverside have opted for sterilization of pit bulls to curb their populations.
    Many cities in Washington state have enacted ordinances banning pit bulls.
    Councilor Bob Strosser said he hadn't formed any opinions about ways to curb problems with dangerous dogs, though he thought the number of attacks locally was too high.
    He said recent cases seem to underscore that pit bulls are particularly likely to attack other animals, though he's not sure how far the city should go in regulating dogs.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/reporterdm.
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