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Animal owners could face jail time under proposed law

CINCINNATI (Paula Toti) -- If your dog attacks and hurts a person or another animal, you might go to jail under a newly proposed law.
   
Cincinnati city council member Chris Seelbach announced he was pushing for the changes.  Seelbach plans to introduce the new ordinance early August.  In Cincinnati there have been some high profile cases of dogs breaking out of their homes and attacking people. 

Seelbach is pushing for up to six months in jail the first time for the owner of an animal that attacks another dog or person.  He said that is extreme but it is an example of how he wants to change the law to keep people and dogs in the city safe.

One owner, Ashley Daisley said her little dog Baxter was attacked by another dog but she never thought about sending the owner to jail.

Ashley said, "That might be a harsh sentence."  She said it might be different if a dog hurt a person. She said animals will easily fight with each other and it can be hard to control.

Owners of larger breeds and even so called "bully breeds" told Local 12 they think the legislation might be reasonable. 

Traci Jerkins said, "You have to train your dog and be responsible for it. It comes down to the owner but they are animals and you have to be careful."
 
Seelbach said steep fines and jail time would be reserved for truly irresponsible owners.  To get the maximum sentence he imagines it would mean an owner was involved in drug activity. 
 
Pit bull owner George Hoersting doesn't have a problem with the legislation but wonders if the worst offenders would care about a fine.
 
Currently in Cincinnati an owner with an offending dog gets no punishment for that crime on a first offense.  Prosecutors have slapped them with things like state leash laws as punishment.
 
Seelbach said, "What we're saying and what prosecutors are saying is the first time, if it's warranted, a person can be charged for a dog injuring another person or pet." 

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