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Public hearing set on dangerous dogs

Medford residents and city officials recently have been consumed with sometimes heated opinions about what to do with dangerous dogs, as well as their irresponsible owners.

The public will get a chance to voice concerns today about what, if anything, to do with these dogs. A public hearing will be held by the Medford Policy Advisory Committee at 4:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers in City Hall.

Initially, the focus was on pit bulls or pit-bull mixes because they have been involved in a majority of local bite cases, but some councilors have attempted to distance themselves from the idea of a breed-specific ban.

"We're prepared for a large crowd," said Maureen Swift, who co-chairs the Police Advisory Committee with police Chief Tim George.

The committee, which is made up of local volunteers, expects to cut off testimony at 9 p.m. Making allowances for breaks, she said, it's possible that up to 60 people could speak during that time period.

Residents wishing to speak will be allowed three minutes, and those representing a group will have five minutes.

The committee, which will not make any decision tonight, is also encouraging residents to submit their opinions in writing. The committee is expected to make a recommendation to the City Council by April on possible rules and regulations regarding dangerous dogs.

The hearing will be televised live on Channel 14 via Southern Oregon University's Rogue Valley Television.

Once the hearing is over, the committee will continue to review suggestions by experts from local organizations and the Medford Police Department.

"The deeper we dug into this issue, the more questions we have regarding the specifics of writing an ordinance," Swift said.

One of the biggest issues is crafting something that is enforceable and doesn't take away from other police work, she said.

Another issue the committee could consider, she said, is what kind of educational effort could the city create to alert residents to the dangers of dogs.

More than half of the bite cases in Medford for the past three years involved pit bulls or pit-bull mixes, according to Medford police.

Jackson County Animal Services also reported that almost half the 131 bite cases countywide involved pit bulls or pit-bull mixes.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.