http://www.newszap.com/articles/2007/06/30/dm/central_delaware/dsn04.txt Dover ponders stricter pet control measures By Kate House-Layton, Delaware State News DOVER — Dover could take a harder stance on pet owners with a proposed expansion of the city’s animal control laws. Dover City Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee is reviewing possible changes to the law that could require not just dog, but cat registration, restrict the number of animals a person can keep, expand the list of dangerous dog breeds and increase fines for violators. “It’s a question of trying to get the owners to accept responsibility for the animals,” councilman and committee member Eugene B. Ruane said. “It should almost be called ‘animal owners responsibility law.’” Councilwoman and committee chairwoman Sophia R. Russell said the group started looking into the law expansion in April, but Councilman Ruane said the idea took shape last year, when numerous dog attacks and bites were reported and more than 100 cats were found living in the home of Pamela and Candice Haas. A look at the city’s animal control laws showed a need for expansion. “There were a lot of holes in it, a lot of gaps,” Councilman Ruane said. Comparing Dover’s animal control laws with those of Milford, Newark, Wilmington and even cities in Virginia, the committee is trying to come up with laws that suit everyone. The group also has met with the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for advice on broadening the law and possibly teaming with the organization, which already holds the state contract for dog control. It provides backup for the Dover Police Department’s animal control officer and a place to keep animals. “We’ve only had just one brief meeting with them,” said SPCA executive director Murrey Goldthwaite. “They asked us to put together a few things of what our version would be. That’s as far as it’s gone with us. We definitely would like to help them.” The committee, Mr. Goldthwaite said, asked about registration and about the SPCA’s microchip program, which implants a small computer chip under an animal’s skin that can be scanned to identify the animal and its owner if the animal is lost, stolen or picked up by an animal control officer. The committee, he said, also asked the SPCA about animal control man-hours and policies. “You don’t need a regulation that looks good on the books but does not work for the community,” Mr. Goldthwaite said. Among other changes, the law could limit Dover homes to four animals except for animal litters, which could be kept up to five months as long as the mother is on the premises. Fish and some other animals would be exempt from that part of the law. The city also could expand the list of dangerous dogs to include Akitas, Rottweilers, chow chows, Doberman pinschers, mastiffs and any mix of breeds on the list. Kent County SPCA has maintained that list for more than 10 years. Anyone convicted of a drug offense could be prohibited from owning any dangerous breed of dog. Dog and cat owners also would have to keep their pets‘ vaccinations up to date. Seeing Eye dogs and police dogs could be exempt from the law. Any person convicted of violating the law could be subject to a $250 to $750 fine, depending on the number of convictions. There also could be stiffer fines, ranging from $50 to $150, for animals caught running at large. Talks on the expanded law could continue this August, Councilwoman Russell said.