Johnstown's Village Council will take its first look June 15 at proposed legislation dealing with dangerous and vicious dogs.

Johnstown's Village Council will take its first look June 15 at proposed legislation dealing with dangerous and vicious dogs.

During village council's safety and service committee meeting Thursday, village manager Judy Edwards said there has been difficulty nationwide with breed-specific legislation, and some states have banned breed-specific laws altogether.

She said the problem with breed-specific legislation is that the burden of proof would fall on the village.

Edwards recommends the village enforce Ohio Revised Code 955.221 as it pertains to controlling dogs within a municipality.

Committee member Joyce Evans agreed.

She spoke about a neighbor who breeds and sells pit bulls.

"There isn't a fence or supervision and if a kid walks down the street, they're snarling," she said.

A Chihuahua could be declared vicious if it bites, committee member Kevin Riffe pointed out.

Police chief Don Corbin said any legislation dealing with dogs needs to be specific, because enforcement is difficult.

"We have to be able to have some leverage if we're going to make arrests or confiscate dogs," he said. "It has to be black and white. It's very difficult for us."

If a dog would get off its owner's property and attack someone, Riffe said, that would give the police leverage.

"We can't do anything unless the dog does something," Corbin said.

Edwards said it has to be established that a dog is "vicious."

"There are different procedures after a dog bites," she said. "Nine out of 10 times the dog will be put down."

Edwards said New Albany's ordinance on vicious dogs mirrors ORC.

"If it's in our codified ordinances, we can run it through mayor's court," she said.

Ohio Revised Code defines "dangerous dog" as one that, without provocation, has chased or approached in either a menacing fashion or an apparent attitude of attack, or has attempted to bite or otherwise endanger any person, while that dog is off the premises of its owner or keeper.

The state defines "vicious dog" as one that has killed or caused serious injury to any person; has caused injury, other than killing or serious injury, to any person, or has killed another dog; belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog.

Johnstown's draft legislation states that the owner of a dog deemed dangerous or vicious must either secure the animal at all times in a building, a locked pen with a top, locked fenced yard or other locked enclosure. A dangerous dog could be tied with a leash or tether so that the dog is adequately restrained.

Violators of the legislation would face a misdemeanor of the first degree on a first offense. Additionally, the court may order the vicious dog be humanely destroyed.

The committee also discussed junk motor vehicle legislation and cutting noxious weeds.

Edwards said the village wants to get rid of junk vehicles, and she anticipates turning to ORC to deal with the issue.

Currently, she added, noxious weeds are dealt with through a nuisance control statute.

"It gives us the right to go in and mow, then send the bill to the county auditor to put on the resident's tax duplicate," she said.

Discussion about the regulation of junk vehicles and noxious weeds will continue during the committee's next meeting on Aug. 19.