New Albany City Council members are mulling whether to eliminate an ordinance that categorizes dogs based on breed rather than behavior.

A section of city code currently classifies pit-bull terriers and related breeds as vicious dogs.

A vote to eliminate the ordinance could occur Jan. 16.

City leaders received calls from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Protection Network, which said breed-specific ordinances are unconstitutional, according to the city's legislative report to council members.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals, which includes all of Licking County, in April ruled ordinances that categorized breeds as vicious were unconstitutional.

Because part of New Albany is in Licking County, city officials have recommended repealing the ordinance on dangerous and vicious dogs to be consistent, said city attorney Mitch Banchefsky.

The 10th District Court of Appeals -- which covers Franklin County -- has not yet ruled on the matter, Banchefsky said.

The city already has an ordinance that outlines expectations for dogs based on behavior, so City Council would not have to enact a new one, he said.

Not many local dog-related issues have been documented, Banchefsky said, so the elimination of the dangerous- and vicious-dogs ordinance will create no real changes, other than the fact that dogs would be evaluated by behavior rather than breed.

The city has been considering the code adjustment for eight months, said Mayor Sloan Spalding.

He said he thinks the change would be the right approach.

Spalding said he has seen dogs in a variety of breeds acting inappropriately and their actions had more to do with how they were trained than what breed they were.

Still, some people do breed pit bulls to be aggressive, and that's something to take into consideration, he said.

Ultimately, Spalding said, he favors categorizing dogs as vicious by behavior rather than by breed.

President Pro Tempore Colleen Briscoe also said the elimination of breed-based categorization is appropriate.

Although she doesn't personally favor pit bulls or derivative breeds, a number of pit bulls aren't mean, Briscoe said. Additionally, the pit-bull breed is not very well defined, she said.

The better choice for the city would be to define vicious dogs by behavior, she said.

Pets Without Parents, a nonprofit Columbus shelter for dogs and cats, frequently has pit bulls up for adoption, said executive director and founder Amy Klavinger.

Klavinger, who has two pit bulls, said dogs do not display any behavioral differences across breeds.

The elimination of city code like New Albany's dangerous- and vicious-dogs ordinance would help facilitate more adoptions of pit bulls, she said.

In other business Dec. 19, City Council approved City Manager Joe Stefanov's annual employment agreement with the city.

Stefanov, who became city manager Jan. 3, 2000, has a salary of $152,575 and a total compensation of $216,865.24 for 2017, according to the city. A one-time bonus of $13,000 will be included in that amount, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

In 2018, his salary will increase to $156,389 and his estimated total compensation will be $204,216, according to the city.