The city plans to put some teeth in rules to prevent, control or remove vicious dogs in Lawrence, after a pit bull attacked and killed a Yorkshire terrier last week.
Lawrence city commissioners agreed Tuesday night to pass new laws to control such dogs, step up enforcement of current rules and take testimony from anybody who has faced threats or attacks from the pit bulls at 611 Ill.
That's where Lola, the terrier, died Friday of a broken spine inflicted by the shaking jaws of a pit bull known for its menacing activities, and why about a dozen people came to city hall to plead for increased protection from attack dogs.
"This was a very distraught awakening," Mayor Erv Hodges said. "This problem has to be taken care of very quickly, and it has to be taken care of so it doesn't happen anywhere else in our community."
A law to regulate the possession of pit bulls -- through muzzling, registration, licensing and insurance requirements -- will be up for commission review next week, City Manager Mike Wildgen said. A report on existing environmental problems at 611 Ill. also will be available.
The property, home to Jessica Renee Brockman, for months has been a sore spot for neighbors, who said they had complained to city officials and police about blighted conditions, suspected illegal activity and -- worst of all -- the presence of several pit bulls.
Wildgen said that animal control officers stopped by the property Tuesday afternoon to seize the animal involved in the attack on Lola, but that the dogs were gone.
"We've been monitoring it," he said.
Neighbors attending Tuesday's meeting said the city needed to do more than that.
The property is home to breeding and sales operations for pit bulls, said Kelly Hupp, 619 Ill., who can't stand to open her windows during the summer because of the smell of dog excrement and piercing sounds from the dogs and their puppies.
Richard Moore, 612 Ill., said he had seen pit bulls attack at least four other dogs in the area. The victims were on leashes; the pit bulls were not.
Bill Pugh, who lives at 909 W. Sixth, said that he had made dozens of complaints to police about problems associated with the dogs and the property. Among the worst: the time one of the pit bulls menaced his 83-year-old father, who was raking leaves in his front yard.
"It goes on and on, month after month, and it never stops," Pugh said. "It is hell living next to these people."
Commissioners vowed to take action, and told staffers to get to work outlining options for consideration.
Malcom Lodwick, 633 Ill., offered a suggestion of his own.
"Just as felons are prohibited from buying guns, I think bad dog owners should be prohibited from buying additional dogs," he said.
Hodges accepted several other ideas, and Commissioner Mike Rundle suggested that staffers take written testimony -- "affidavits," technically -- from neighbors who had been attacked or threatened by the dogs. The reports could give the city enough information to enforce its existing vicious dog ordinance, commissioners said.
"You want our help. We want your help," Hodges told the neighbors. "Let's work together. Let's accomplish something."
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.