OGDEN -- City officials hope proposed changes in the animal ordinance will curb dog bites without targeting specific breeds.
The city council is considering amendments to the animal control ordinance that would change registration requirements for what the city determines to be a dangerous dog, establishes additional insurance requirements for dogs that are unaltered -- meaning not spayed or neutered -- and increases fees for dangerous dogs and unaltered dogs and cats.
In January 2011, the council amended the city's animal control ordinance to include a "potentially dangerous dog" clause.
The ordinance was breed-neutral and focused on encouraging responsible ownership.
After much public outcry over a previous ordinance that targeted pit bulls specifically, City Policy Analyst Janene Eller-Smith said, the city council held fact-finding work sessions and met with community members and animal advocacy groups to come up with a policy that would reduce dog bites, but not discriminate against specific breeds.
But the city still has a dog bite problem.
According to statistics from the city, 144 biting incidents occurred in Ogden in 2011; 88 of those were by unaltered dogs.
Unaltered dogs are nearly three times more likely to bite than sterilized dogs, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To help curb some of the biting, the proposed ordinance would add a new section requiring that the owner of an unaltered dog six months or older provide proof of insurance in the amount of at least $25,000, which would be required during the 12-month licensing period.
If the city determines a dog to be dangerous, the pet will be required to have a microchip and, if applicable, the dog's owner must have written permission from a landlord to keep the dog on the premises.
The proposed ordinance also raises the registration fee for dangerous dogs or potentially dangerous dogs from $50 to $100 and increases licensing fees for unaltered dogs from $30 to $50.
Temma Martin, a spokeswoman for Best Friends Animal Society, said the changes in Ogden's ordinance would be good ones and would help decrease dog bites and the number of strays.
"It sounds like they are trying to focus on reckless dog owners and the behavior of individual dogs," she said of city council members.
"I think requiring (owners of unaltered) dogs to carry the insurance is a good incentive for people to get their dogs sterilized.
"And if people will do that, there will be fewer dog bites and fewer homeless dogs."