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Tag: ed reisinger

Say Chow (or ciao) to those $1,000 fines


Baltimore’s $1,000 fine for letting a dog of its leash is, effectively, a thing of the past — if even that.

A city council committee yesterday — saying the amended penalty was passed by mistake — approved lowering the fine to $200 on a first offense, and promised that, for all 35 of the $1,000 tickets issued between the beginning of April and May 8, violators will have to pay no more than $200.

The new three-tiered fine — $200 for first offense, $400 for a second, $600 for a third — still requires approval by the full council, but little opposition is expected.

In opening the hearing, at which more than a dozen dog owners testified, Council Member James Kraft said, “This fine, very frankly … was a mistake. We were amending provisions of the law that were dealing with cruelty to animals and we increased penalties because some of these penalties were very old penalties. They weren’t acting as deterrents.

“Inadvertently, because that section had a lot of other provisions in it, that thousand dollar fine went across a much broader spectrum than we knew.”

Upon learning of what they had done, Kraft said, the council took steps to ask that the fine not be levied against violators.

Nevertheless, 35 $1,000 citations were handed out by the city’s office of Animal Control, with support from the police department — 23 of them since April 28.

“For those who have said that maybe this was a fundraising measure on behalf of the city, please be advised it clearly was not,” Kraft said.

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Councilman to propose reducing leash fine

Baltimore City Councilman Jim Kraft plans to introduce a bill next week to reduce the recently raised fine for leash law violations from $1,000 to $250.

Kraft was one of the sponsors of the bill that included a ten-fold increase in fines for leash law violations and failure to pick up dog waste, both of which were $100 under the old law.

In a letter to a constitutent, Kraft wrote, “On April 20, I will be introducing a bill to reduce the fine for leash violations from $1,000 to $250. As you know, this fine amount was increased during the consideration of Council Bill 08-0050, which raised fines for a number of animal-related offenses, such as animal abuse, dogfights, and failure to report possible rabies exposure.

“Among those violations for which we raised the fine to $1,000 were those that fell under the subtitle devoted to ‘General Care and Control.’ This subtitle includes failure to provide food, shelter, sufficient space, or veterinary care needed to prevent suffering. I believe that most would agree that failure to provide these most basic elements of humane care warrants a steep fine. The leash law also falls under this subtitle.

“The bill I will be introducing creates a separate penalty for the leash requirement, and assigns a fine amount of $250 to any violation of this provision. This still represents an increase from the previous fine amount of $100, because it is important that the fine serves as an adequate deterrent.

“Unfortunately, in many parks throughout our neighborhoods, unleashed dogs are the norm. It is important that responsible dog owners recognize that the potential for negative consequences of this behavior go far beyond whatever fines are imposed — it creates a threat to the well-being and safety of both passersby and the dogs themselves.”

Another sponsor of the law revising the penalites, Council Ed Reisinger, will be meeting Thursday night at Riverside Park with dog owners concerned about the new fines.