LINKY HERE When the bite is worse than the bark: Cities should have zero-tolerance policies on aggressive dogs Tribune Opinion January 29, 2008 Comments Print Email Two dog attacks in recent weeks -- one in Greeley and another in Eaton -- have caught our attention and raised the question of whether bans on specific breeds of dogs should be pursued by city officials in Weld County. The first occurred on the Poudre Trail in Greeley, when three pit bulls that previously had been in trouble for chasing joggers attacked a woman's two dogs as she walked them. One dog sustained serious injuries, while the other got away with minor injuries. A second attack came a week later, when an Eaton police officer, called to control a wandering pit bull that had reportedly also had prior issues, shot the dog as it charged him after the officer slipped and fell on the ice. It's a struggle to take the stand we do: We don't think Greeley or other towns in Weld County should ban certain breeds because of a few "bad apples." Just as we would not condemn an entire profession for a few bad acts by its workers, we don't think attacks by a few bad dogs should condemn an entire breed. But we temper that. We do think dog owners should be held accountable for their dog's actions, and we think there should be a "zero-tolerance" policy among cities. First strike and they're out. Dogs that have attacked once shouldn't be allowed to attack again, and owners of such dogs should face a penalty stiff enough to deter them from ownership in the future. Again, we come to this conclusion not because we want to ban any specific breed of animal, and we recognize that any dog can bite under the right circumstances, such as being taunted, being scared or angry, or simply being surprised. But dog owners need to pay heed to their dogs' issues. If the dog has a habit of chasing people or other dogs, keep the dog behind a fence. If the dog has a habit of trying to bite people who come into the yard, make sure the dog is put in a safe place before anyone comes on the property. Post warning signs about a dangerous dog. No dog should be allowed to run free in a neighborhood, or in a park not designated as a dog park, or even to roam a person's yard without restraints. It's just common sense. No one begrudges residents who like the added protection of a dog, especially in today's world when property crime can touch any of us. A good, scary bark usually works wonders in keeping away those pesky burglars. But that doesn't take away an owner's responsibility in case of an attack. Dogs that do attack should be euthanize to avoid the occurrence in the future, and their owners should be held accountable with stiff fines and penalties.