Medford City Council Study Session
May 1, 2014
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Medford Room, City Hall, 411 W. 8th Street, Medford with the following members present.
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Dick Gordon, Tim Jackle, Bob Strosser, Daniel Bunn, Eli Matthews, Karen Blair and John Michaels.
1. Control of Dangerous Dogs: Police Chief Tim George addressed the Council and introduced the topic. He introduced the members of the Police Advisory Committee who were in attendance at the meeting. He noted that the Council had previously requested the Police Advisory Committee hold a public hearing to receive input and research this topic to develop a recommendation to be brought forward to the Council. The Committee held a public hearing on February 19, 2014 and received testimony from twenty-nine individuals. In addition they reviewed the large number of emails that had been sent to the Council regarding this topic.
Then on March 11, 2014 the Committee held a study session and invited Jason Lake, Prodogz (local dog trainer), Kenn Altine from the Southern Oregon Humane Society, Barbara Talbert and Officer Andy Swanson from Jackson County Animal Control and Steve Poet, DVM. These individuals provided subject matter expertise and experience and provided valuable information and discussion to the Committee. The Committee did vote to not recommend any breed specific legislation as this would be too difficult to enforce and testing is expensive and likely to be contested.
The Committee agreed that any solution should be based on behavior, not breed. They identified several education opportunities such as use of the City newsletter/utility bill insert, public service announcements, and training and education. The public outreach and education would be in conjunction with targeted enforcement in problem areas such as parks and greenways to enforce control of dog as per the existing Municipal Code leash law. The Committee is also will be looking at implementation of a leash giveaway program. Chief George noted that the Police Dept. will be working in coordination with Jackson County Animal Control as Jackson County has additional tools to assist in the control of dangerous dogs.
Chief George spoke to the Council request for a recommendation on a stair-step approach to the enforcement and fines. The Committee and staff will be working on a code modification that will address a three stage fine.
Deputy City Attorney Kevin McConnell spoke to the State ORS statues that regulate dog control but are directed at counties for enforcement. The statue does allow cities to adopt their own laws and any action the Council chose to take would be allowable.
Chief George spoke to the outreach efforts further in providing education and youth involvement via 549C School District. He noted the School Resource Officers are able to meet with grade schools to provide education. The Committee is also recommending that the youth participate with a poster contest and involvement in the development of the public service announcements. Chief George shared three public service announcements from other communities to provide examples of what can be done.
Councilmember Michaels questioned sufficient fencing requirements and the potential to require or use spaying and neutering as a diversion method. Councilmembers discussed the recommendations. Committee members shared their opinions on the issue and supported the concept of a diversion option. Committee members were in support of making the owner or person in control of the animals responsible for the actions and the need for public education.
Councilmember Michaels suggested that after a year of the new law and education program being in place, the Council should be provided with a report on the program changes.
Council concurred to have the Committee and staff work up the recommendations as presented with the inclusion of spaying/neuter as a diversion tactic.
Meeting adjourned at 6:58 p.m.