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Local News

New Joliet dog regulations outline procedures for attacks

JOLIET – New regulations spell out procedures for Joliet residents dealing with dog attacks.

The city ordinance, along with an agreement with Joliet Township Animal Control, were approved last week by the City Council after months of meetings with city residents who complained about lax rules when dealing with dangerous animals.

“What has been identified in this whole process is that there has been a communications gap,” said City Attorney Marty Shanahan, who wrote the new ordinance and negotiated the agreement with Animal Control.

Hoping to fill in the gap, the agreement with Animal Control even spells out response times expected for a variety of animal situations that range from vicious dogs to bats in the house.

Joliet Township Animal Control is the agency that ultimately is called to pick up a stray or dangerous dog.

Sarah Gimbel, director of Animal Control, said the new regulations and agreement with the city should clarify how animal situations are handled.

“We’re building up the communication with the city and have references to ordinances that we can follow or enforce,” Gimbel said.

Residents complained that it was too difficult to determine who was supposed to do what between Animal Control, the police and City Hall.

A city summary of the new ordinance outlines the following procedures for a dog attack:

• The victim and owner should contact the Joliet Police Department.

• The police should contact Joliet Township Animal Control and do a joint investigation to determine whether the attacking dog should be deemed dangerous or vicious.

• If the dog is running loose, Animal Control can seize it and retain it if the dog is determined to pose a danger to the public.

• If the dog is kept by its owner, police and Animal Control will investigate to determine whether the dog needs to be impounded.

• Once a report is completed, the city manager or a designated official will determine whether there needs to be a hearing to determine whether a dog is dangerous or vicious.

Vicious dogs are dogs that have killed or seriously injured a person or companion animal. The ordinance provides that vicious dogs be euthanized.

The ordinance has a number of new provisions, including reimbursement for victims, liability insurance for owners of dangerous dogs and signs to be displayed prominently at homes where dogs determined to be dangerous are kept.

One thing the ordinance does not do is target specific breeds, Councilwoman Jan Quillman noted.

At least two incidents that have occurred since the city began rewriting its dog control law involved pit bulls. But the ordinance does not mention breeds.

“We are not singling out any particular breed,” Quillman said. “Any dog can be dangerous or vicious.”

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