By June Conner
For the Star-Gazette
The increase in fines imposed last spring by the Beardstown City Council is thought to have dog owners more eager to obey the ordinance. Alderman Katie Vitale who sits on the County's Animal Control Board proposed the stiffer penalties and she believes that it is working to keep dogs at home. Vitale said, "There's not as many dogs running loose. The complaints have slowed down tremendously. People just can't afford the fines. We don't want the people to be afraid to walk down the streets."
The ordinance states that a dog running loose will result in a fine of no less than $200 and no more than $750. If while running at large the animal attacks, bites, injures or attempts to attack, bite or injure any person or other animal, such action shall be considered a separate offense and a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $750 shall be imposed. This is up from $35 for the first offense of a dog running loose, $75 for a second offense; $200 for a third offense. There was no fine for biting or attacking.
Animal Control Warden Trayce Johnson agrees that there are less dogs running loose, but she also feels that there are still people who do not know about the increase in fines and are somewhat surprised when she tells them. She said, “We are trying to get the word out."
There is one area of disagreement and that's with some of the mail carriers. According to their reports, there are still dogs that are running at large that makes the job of delivering mail difficult. According to Beardstown Postmaster Greg Duncan there are fewer but there is still a problem. He agrees the amount of dogs has decreased. He said, "Some carriers are still dealing with this issue."
Beardstown City Clerk Pete Ruch says that those who are fined can pay at City Hall. Those who are delinquent are turned over to the City Attorney.