Richmond Heights Mayor Jim Thomson at the council meeting Monday said a resident had reported that two dogs in a yard on Rankin Avenue charged him, barking aggressively as he walked by the house, stopping short when they reached the electric fence boundary.
Thomson then drove down Rankin to see for himself and found one dog out in a yard — “calm and collected,” he said. He asked the council members about their experiences with aggressive dogs and electric fences, with the thought of possibly adding an ordinance to set a minimum distance from a fence to the sidewalk, and to require warning signs.
Reginald Finney said there are certain classes of dogs “that get that hunger, that drive — they’re going to go through these [electric fences], and that’s what I worry about.”
Ashley Metcalf said she had been attacked by “a group of tiny dogs” once, and would be hesitant to target a specific breed in an ordinance, but any dog that’s aggressive.
Megan Moylan said some dogs will get through either electric or wire fences sometimes, and the owner will make adjustments. Danny Hebenstreit said if there’s a problem the owner should “get a different fence or get a different dog.”
Three residents from Rankin Avenue came to the meeting and the mayor invited them to speak.
Caroline Strong said dogs jumping fences and roaming is a problem in their neighborhood and some people let dogs off their leashes in their yard. “To start telling people where they can and can’t have their dog in their yard is tricky. At the end of the day the dog owner is going to be responsible for that dog,” she said.
She added that part of the reason for their electric fence is for security. “We’ve had people on our yard in the middle of the night trying to get into our doors. Our neighbors had their home broken into the middle of the night. I want people to see my 80-pound dog and maybe they’ll think twice about coming into my yard,” she said.
Heather Hanrahan said they have an electric fence with two dogs. “We are pretty cognizant about when we let our dogs out, if anyone is coming,” she said. “If they bark we bring them in. I think, again, it’s back to the owner.”
Elizabeth Fear said their yard is smaller, with no electric fence. “You can put these ordinances in place but they’d be hard to enforce,” she said. “I’ve personally had a problem with the dogs that run in the neighborhood and love to come to my backyard. I know it’s not allowed, but I don’t know how that can be enforced.”
After the discussion the mayor asked the council if any of them felt strongly enough about it to write an ordinance and none spoke up.
The city already has laws relating to dogs for keeping them restrained, noise and requiring dog walkers to pick up their dog’s poop.