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Cincy council again delays vote on dangerous dog law

The Cincinnati Council debate on what to do about dangerous and vicious dogs in the city will continue for another two weeks.  The Law and Public Safety Committee Tuesday delayed taking action of several proposals.  

Chairman Christopher Smitherman said Mayor John Cranley has some items he would like considered before a vote.  Smitherman said his position on the issue has not changed.

“The criminal part of that direction is a direction we shouldn’t go in,” Smiterman said.  “In think we’re throwing the net too broadly.  I think the step is to raise the civil part of the ordinance, allow the animal task force to be appointed by the mayor, and look for their recommendations on how to go forward.”

Mayor John Cranley's Communications Director Kevin Osborne said in a text the mayor does not believe the current proposals address the problems that sparked them.

"He is concerned the current proposal over-criminalizes all dog bites and may have unintended consequences," Osborne wrote.

The committee has been discussing the options for several months.  It started after a young girl was attacked by dogs last summer.  Those dogs were allegedly being used to guard an illegal drug operation.

Council Member Kevin Flynn said he wants a city resolution asking Ohio lawmakers to change state law to address using a dog in the commission a crime.

“Just like using a gun in the commission of a robbery is a specification that enhances the felony penalty,” Flynn said.  “We’re looking to see what we can do at the state level if you’re using a dog in the commission of a felony to enhance the penalty related to that felony.”

A compromise proposal that apparently has the support of a council majority would include higher fines and creating a task force to study the issues.  There would not be additional criminal penalties.

Council Member Yvettte Simpson is asking the city’s law department to help with some clarifications before any votes are taken.

“Rather than us evaluating four different pieces of legislation it might be helpful for us to understand the critical pieces of each of them,” Simpson said.  “So that we can at least agree on that rather than getting into okay do you like this one better or that one better or that one.”

Cincinnati used to ban pit bulls inside city limits.  But that law was repealed several years ago largely because it was difficult to enforce.  There were issues surrounding what is a “pitbull” and who had the legal ability to make that decision.