Richmond Heights officials talk possible ordinance for dogs, electric fences


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.




  1. I have a neighbor with three small dogs fence in their back yard, they let the dog out any time of day or night. I can not walk out my back door with out them barking, one barks all three then barks. I have asked them to take there dogs in when they bark but that did no good.
    One morning at 6:00 am they were out and barking and I called the police and at 6:30 AM the officer came to my door and asked me what was going on and then knocked on there door.
    That most be something to have a police officer at your door that early they stopped letting there dog out that early I wish people would think past them self’s

  2. STM, the Richmond Heights City Council needs to getta grip about its priorities.

    I’ve only lived here for 15 years & this is the first time NO ONE from the City showed up at the block party. I’m sure they were spread thin but they’d have gotten a earfull!

    What became of Rick Vilcek’s Police Department? What happened to the reassuring presence of police cars? One woman complained about treatment by an officer after being struck & knocked unconscious by a stranger in her driveway. Some are also blantantly apathetic. We also discussed their failure to appear at events that introduce themselves & get engaged with public. Officer Conard is amazing but she can’t affect policy. That’s what people are elected for & administrators hired to advise & implement.

    Disabled seniors’ request for handicapped parking indications on our curbs (1501 & 1433) are ignored. Anyone aware of or even practicing the touted ‘aging in place’ measures?

    Then, there’s our building department. Inspectors used to drive around to insure compliance. But, a neighbor complained for months & I had to write a letter about conditions at 1459 before this eyesore & health hazard was fixed.

    It also took me three weeks & several phone calls to get an updated occupancy permit

    I’ve found most at City Hall are conscientious & qualified public servants. Why not get County Animal Control to address issues & problems with dogs & electric fences. Bet they’ve got the expertise

    Making this a Council issue is silly, specious & serves few. Perhaps some need to get out more or sharpen civic know how.

  3. I recently moved to Maplewood and have had countless incidents of stepping in or rolling my trashcan through other people’s dog waste. It is extremely frustrating and disgusting. If people are going to own a dog, they need to take full responsibility for that dog, whether it’s picking up after them, ensuring they are on a leash (even they are friendly), making sure there is not incessant barking and being a good neighbor. I don’t understand why people can’t do the simple task of cleaning up after their dog.

  4. I believe that this article mainly addresses aggressive dogs and restraining them. When speaking about electronic fences, yes, dogs will go through these fences, mainly, if: The dog is angry, the dogs has overwhelming sexual urges, or the dog’s puppies go outside the fence. All of these conditions lead to a dog feeling that HIS TERRITORY is being threatened. Dogs like German Shepards, Dobermans, Pitbulls, Boxers, and dogs like them, should have their owners set the ‘stun’ amount up to a point where the dog believes, very strongly, that it will be hurt if it goes to the invisible area. Turn it up! Some dogs learn that the faster they run through the barrier, the less it hurts and some forget that there is a fence. Those dogs are harder to stop and sometimes more dangerous. If the current law says that a dog should be on a leash or within a physically enclosed area, it will work well. As long as there are electric fences or poorly enclosed areas, there WILL be problems. Dogs getting through screen doors is also a big issue.

  5. I walk my dog ON A LEASH and carry a walking stick due to unleashed dogs rushing at us from yards. My dog would be blamed even though she is restrained only because of her breed. So unfair.

  6. I’m a little tired of hearing dogs constantly barking. On my street there are a few homes where there is always a dog outside barking. I feel bad for the dogs, I’m sure they are bored with not much interaction.

    I would probably be freaked out if I saw dogs in a yard and I didn’t know there was an electric fence. That seems like it would be a helpful bit of information.

  7. Do I need to send pics of a person who walks their dog on my street and all the other streets who never ever picks up after them. A constant offender of this law, maybe if they get a hefty fine they will stop.

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