Attack Dog Training Bill Moves Closer to Passage

A bill prohibiting attack dog training in public parks passed out of the Board of Alderman's Public Safety committee on Wednesday and was placed on the informal calendar at today's Aldermanic meeting, bringing it step closer to final passage.

Sponsored by 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French, and co-sponsored by eight of his colleagues, Board Bill #75 would also make it illegal to train dogs in general within 300 feet of playgrounds, jogging trails, athletic fields, swimming pools, tennis courts, or basketball courts. Furthermore, anyone who wishes to train three or more dogs at a public park would be required to obtain a permit from the city.

The bill is explicit in defining attack dog training, stating "No dog training whatsoever shall involve teaching the dog to attack a person, another animal or inanimate object, or if such training involves the use of a stick, club, padded suit, or whip."

French first proposed the bill in the spring, telling Daily RFT at the time that attack dog training was common at north city parks.

"You have senior-citizen joggers and mothers pushing baby strollers having to go through 30 dogs," French said toDaily RFT in May.

The Aldermen spend the first hour of today's General Assembly meeting honoring 5th Ward Alderwoman April Ford-Griffin, who is stepping down from her seat to become director of the city's Civil Rights Enforcement Agency.

Before leaving though, she advanced the two bills (one of which is sponsored by 7th Ward Alderwoman Phyllis Young) that would allow Grace Hill, the non-profit health care organization, to purchase at discount price two city-owned buildings it is currently leasing. When debated on the floor in July, the bills drew sharp opposition from 13th Ward Alderman Fred Wessels and 8th Ward Alderman Stephen Conway, who both argued that the price of each building should be raised from $100,000 to 20 percent of its appraisal value ($280,000 for the one in Ford-Griffin's bill and $380,000 for the one in Young's bill). Ford-Griffin countered that every dollar Grace Hill saves is a dollar that goes to health care for poor people.

Working deep into the afternoon yesterday, Ford-Griffin and Wessels came to an agreement. The city would sell the buildings at 10 percent of their appraisal value-- respectively, $140,000 and $190,000. The amendments to the bill were announced on the floor today.

Conway said he was glad the sides could compromise. He declared that he and Wessels' supported the bill as it stood.

Wessels, though, was begrudging.

"I think to say this is a good conclusion is stretching the truth," he said, a couple of minutes after Conway spoke. "I still think the tax payers are being short changed. But it's better than it was."

The bill is currently on the perfection calendar.

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