Jackson Co. Gives Initial Approval for Pet Insurance Ordinance

By: Alex Goldsmith Email
By: Alex Goldsmith Email

Jackson Co. Sheriff Dan Heyns saw vicious dog attacks in the county go up last year.

"We saw the number of attacks requiring hospitalization rise in the county," said Heyns.

But the straw that broke the camel's back was the mauling of 6-year-old Tyah Norris by a pit bull.

Heyns pushed for an ordinance that would give his sheriffs and animal control officers more power to cut down on these attacks. On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners voted to initially approve amendments that strengthen the existing animal control ordinance in place.

Under the law, pet owners who have a dog deemed "potentially dangerous or vicious" will have to buy $100,000 worth of liability insurance for that pet. That designation can only be given by a judge, jury or an owner's own admission.

"It gives the sheriffs and animal control officers more tools in their toolkit," said Jackson County Commissioner David Elwell.

The ordinance is not in effect yet. It still needs final approval from the County Board, which could come next month.
Animal trainer Amanda Keyser had some concerns about the loose wording of the ordinance.

"I'm concerned that the word 'potentially dangerous' could be used against people who have a certain breed but are doing the right things," said Keyser.

But Elwell says that this is a vicious dogs ordinance, not a pit bull ordinance.

"If people think this is a pit bull ordinance then there is a misconception," said Elwell. "This is about giving the sheriff the ability to increase public safety."

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