After a week of phone calls and emails, Sonoma Mayor Pro Tem Joanne Sanders .
After harrowing , exploration of tightening vicious dog legislation is a definite, she says; a Pit Bull "ban" is not.
"I have requested an agenda item with information about what regulations we have in place for vicious dogs and what our options are for further regulating them based on what other cities and counties are doing and what the law permits for municipalities," explained Sanders in an e-mail.
Stating the councilwoman supported a ban was premature said Sanders in a follow-up to a piece printed by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Sanders says that her critics misinterpreted her personal opinion about banning pit bulls to mean that she would be advocating that position for the city, and that all along, she simply wanted her fellow council members to consider “options” for regulating vicious dogs.
Sanders futher flushed out her opinion as a member of a 'Pit Bull panel' on KQED's 'Forum' appearance.
Though Sonoma currently has 31 registered Pit Bulls within city limits, public officials could not recall a single case of a Pit Bull attack, according to the Sonoma Index Tribune.
Still, Sonoma's current "dangerous and vicious dog" ordinance is "ambiguous," reported the I-T, and is only used, in practice, after a dog has already attacked.
Once a bite occurs a jurisdictional nightmare begins:
Dog bites are investigated by Sonoma County Animal Control, and in the county's jurisdiction the determination in a dog attack case must be made by a court and can be appealed. The city's enforcement process is somewhat less clear, but if a dog is determined to be dangerous, the owner can be required to keep it behind a six-foot fence, carry a liability policy and keep it muzzled when outside on a leash.
The California Food and Agriculture Code prohibits bans on animal breeds, but the state's Health and Safety Code allows jurisdictions to impose mandatory spay and neuter policies for the purpose of population control. Sonoma County has such a policy, although indications are it is not strictly enforced.