WINSLOW — The Town Council will vote on a proposal to revise the town’s rules for dangerous dogs following a recent incident that resulted in the death of one dog and injuries to its owner.

The proposed town ordinance changes would update Winslow’s dog code so it aligned with state standards, boosting fines for violations, requiring owners of dangerous dogs to have liability insurance and a permit, and more.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragedy for something like this to come to light,” said Police Chief Shawn O’Leary, who worked with Town Manager Michael Heavener to prepare the ordinance.

Councilors will vote on the first reading of the proposed ordinance, which will require two readings before it is enacted, at their monthly meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m.

On Aug. 30, Sharron Carey, 60, was walking her Boston terrier Fergie Rose when two Staffordshire terriers — also commonly called pit bulls — got past a double fence enclosure around Danielle Jones’ yard and attacked them both. Carey was taken to Inland Hospital for treatment and Fergie Rose was taken to Garland Small Animal Hospital, where the dog died.

Jones said she never trained her dogs to attack anyone and that they were triggered by a different, unleashed dog that had jumped on her backyard fence.

Jones co-owns the dogs with Brandon Ross. Both were summoned on charges of keeping a dangerous dog, which they denied in Waterville District Court on Sept. 20. The case is scheduled to go on trial at a date yet to be determined.

O’Leary said that after the recent dog attack incident, he decided to take another look at the town’s dog code.

He was shocked to find how outdated it was, he said.

O’Leary asked the town’s animal control officer, Chris Martinez, to show him other towns’ codes and then he created a revised ordinance to present to the town.

The current ordinance says no one can keep a noisy or vicious dog that disturbs the “peace and quiet” of any person. If such a dog is found by the police chief, he can give a notice requiring the resident to quiet, remove or destroy the dog. The fines for breaking this part of the code cannot exceed $20.

“The current ordinance is unenforceable,” O’Leary said. For example, he said a case has to go through court for a dog to be euthanized.

The proposed ordinance would greatly increase the fees for breaking this part of the code, require owners of dangerous dogs to have liability insurance and require people who move to Winslow with a dangerous dog to notify the animal control officer.

A dangerous dog is defined by the state as a dog that bites a person or an animal that isn’t trespassing on its owner’s residence or acting aggressively, as well as a dog that causes people or animals to fear “imminent bodily injury.”

The proposed ordinance to the town’s dangerous dog code would require the owner of a dangerous dog to:

• have a permit for keeping a dangerous dog;

• register the dangerous dog with the animal control officer, providing the officer with a copy of the court order declaring the dog dangerous;

• provide the animal control officer with proof of liability insurance of at least $30,000 covering injury or death of any person or animal, as well as property damages resulting from keeping a dangerous dog;

• provide the animal control officer with the owner’s full name and address and the dog’s breed, age, sex and color, as well as two photos of the dog;

• post warning signs on his or her property to inform people of the dangerous dog.

New residents must also tell the animal control officer if they have a dangerous dog within 30 days of moving and be in compliance with the ordinance within the following 10 days.

Penalties include a first offense fine of $500, a second of $750 and a third of $1,000. If convicted of breaking the town’s laws, the owner must also pay for the town’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


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