Adangerous-dog ordinance that targets specific breeds just wouldn't be effective, the Medford Police Advisory Committee has decided.
"It would not be enforceable in any realistic fashion," said Maureen Swift, who co-chairs the Police Advisory Committee with police Chief Tim George. "What we concluded is to take any breed-specific legislation off the table."
The Police Advisory Committee decided Tuesday night that it would not recommend any breed-specific bans.
The City Council has asked the Police Advisory Committee for a recommendation on an ordinance to deal with dangerous dogs. The council wants the ordinance in response to complaints about dog attacks recently.
Statistics in both Jackson County and the city show pit bulls were involved in most of the dog bite cases.
Swift said an ordinance dealing with a specific breed would be problematic.
"There was the realization that if you are going to ban any specific breed, another breed would take its place," she said. "You could create dangerous dogs out of breed."
She said the committee will recommend a way to deal with the owners of dangerous dogs with a stair-stepped enforcement measure.
In addition, an educational component should be developed to help explain how to better manage dogs, Swift said.
The advisory committee held a public hearing in February during which pit-bull owners pleaded that their dogs not be banned.
In addition, local animal organizations also cautioned against breed-specific bans.
Swift said Jackson County has various laws on its books to deal with problem animals.
The advisory committee is scheduled to make a recommendation to the City Council in April.
Barbara Talbert, manager of the Jackson County Animal Care and Control Center, said there is practically no support among local animal organizations for a breed-specific ban.
She said the consensus appears to be to strengthen existing laws, improve enforcement and raise public awareness and education.
One idea is to teach children in school to be more aware of warning signs from animal behavior.
Talbert said another idea that was well received was a progressive structure for fines that could lead to a possible misdemeanor.
Better enforcement of leash laws appears to be a priority, along with better coordination between agencies, she said.
"Jackson County Animal Control wants to work more closely with police officers," Talbert said.