Some potential changes to the City of El Dorado's animal ordinance could affect more than pit bull owners if approved by the City Commission.

Some potential changes to the City of El Dorado's animal ordinance could affect more than pit bull owners if approved by the City Commission.

The City Commission began looking at the ordinance a few months ago and requested staff to put together some changes and bring them back to the commission. Staff completed that work and will be presenting the information to the Commission Monday evening.

"They didn't want to repeal the ordinance, but they wanted to have strict guidelines for dangerous animals," said Brad Meyer, public works director. "What we did is we went through and picked and chose some of the decent ones."

They looked at a number of ordinances, finding several that had good ordinances that don't flat-out prohibit pit bulls.

City staff took the 13 most dangerous animals as found through different Web sites such as, and the CDC.

Meyer said they tried to look at what different groups were saying about dangerous animals and put together a list of breeds.

To allow citizens to have one of these breeds, they took the requirements from other cities' ordinances and put that together as requirements.

In addition to including the pit bull breeds, it also includes German shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman and Chow.

"The problem is those people, the Chow, Doberman, German shepherd and Rottweiler owners, have never had to pay any extra or do any more than have their animals," Meyer said. "I can't imagine with those pet owners who find out because pit bull people want theirs to be in the city, the commission says OK, but they have to pay what pit bull people pay. There will be some upset people."

Meyer pointed out this is tentative and it is up to the commission what they want to do.

"They could vote this in and we would finish writing the ordinance," Meyer said. "They could take time to look at it and make a decision on what they want to do."

If they do decide what they want to do Monday evening, they will be presented an ordinance to approve at their next meeting.

If the ordinance is approved as presented, it would contain specific requirements to own one of the breeds of animals on this dangerous animal list. It includes an annual registration fee of $50 for each dog.

"They have a certain number of days to let us know they have a dog that is on the list," Meyer said. "If they don't' let us know, then there is a penalty phase for that."

People also have to notify the city if they change their address, ownership changes or the animal dies. There also is an application they have to fill out. In order to get the permit for the animal, a person also has to provide proof they have extra insurance to harbor the animal, the animal is spayed or neutered and it has a microchip.

Meyer said these requirements were common with other cities and said there were some more "way-out" sort of regulations. He said they took the ones that were not as crazy.

There also are regulations for if an animal is outside, such as they must be kept in a four-sided pen with a concrete base and if on a leash it can be no more than four feet long.

If a "dangerous animal" is found at-large there is a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second offense within 24 months and if it happens a third time the owner must go before the judge and the animal will be ordered to be removed or destroyed. If the animal bites or attacks a human being, the owners have to pay $500 and have to impound the animal for a five-day waiting period while a judge decides what to do. The same penalties exist if the animal attacks another animal.

In addition, for anything a municipal judge deems a threat to the public, the owner could face six months in jail and fine of not less than $1,000 per incident.

Meyer said these requirements let them have more of a bite to the fine.

The current ordinance, which does not allow pit bulls in the city, only applies to animals after an attack or bite.

"It (the new ordinance) was to ease the pain of those people who wanted to have their pit bulls," Meyer said. "I think there's going to be some upset people when we start canvassing (if the ordinance is approved). We will go through our current list of city animal licenses and pull out the German shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman and Chow owners and send those folks letters saying within the next 20 days to bring a dog into compliance."

The public will have an opportunity to speak about these proposed changes during Monday's meeting.


Julie Clements can be reached at