Dover cracks down dogs on the loose


Dover City Councilman Brian Lewis, pictured at the beach with his dogs, got some language changed on the city’s new dogs running at-large ordinance that was unanimously passed by council on Monday. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — The city of Dover doesn’t really care who let the dogs out, just as long as they are on a leash.

Members of Dover City Council unanimously passed an ordinance at City Hall at its meeting on Monday night that makes it unlawful for any person to permit any dog to run at-large within the city limits.

City Councilman Brian Lewis did object to some language in the first reading of the proposed ordinance at the council meeting on Nov. 28 that said, “Should any police officer or animal control officer be unable, after using reasonable and diligent efforts, to apprehend such animal, he may destroy it.”

Mr. Lewis questioned the word “destroy,” stating that sometimes mistakes happen.

“I know as a dog owner sometimes mistakes happen and resident’s dogs get loose whether they jump over a fence, dig a hole under a fence or maybe even break off their leash or chain,” Mr. Lewis said. “I was very much concerned after reading the original ordinance and therefore made a motion to add an amendment to the ordinance.”

Eventually, the language of the ordinance was changed by Mr. Lewis — and seconded by fellow councilman Roy Sudler Jr — to read, “If the dog is acting in a vicious capacity and attacks the officer or others, the officer may destroy the dog.”

“I know that I would be pretty upset, along with many other dog owners in this city, if their dog was destroyed because the officer could just not catch it or the dog was not being compliant while running at-large,” Mr. Lewis said.

He added that he thinks it’s important for the city’s residents to be aware that anyone may take up any animal found running at-large and deliver it to an animal control officer or police officer or other authorized person to be impounded.

It will be up to the animal control officer, police officer or any other person taking or impounding any dog to notify the owner, if known, within a reasonable time, either personally or by a written notice.

If the owner is unknown, five or more written or printed notices should be posted in public places within the city.

A compilation of the records of all dogs caught an impounded will be maintained at the police headquarters station.

Under the newly passed ordinance, the owner or lawful possessor of any dog has to obtain a license for his/her dog and anyone who fails to comply with the provisions of the laws in Delaware will have to pay a fine of not less than $50 or more than $500 for a first offense.

The amendments help to align the Dover Code with the recently amended Delaware Code regarding dogs running at-large.

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