Dec 12, 1990 Flossmoor To Consider Pit Bull Law

Flossmoor - Patricia Fullam of Flossmoor doesn`t care much for Rottweiler dogs.

``But if one moved next door at this point, I`d kiss it,`` she said.

That`s because the prospect of coming face to muzzle with what`s living next door right now is worse-it`s a pit bull.

The dog, though still a 5-month-old puppy, is creating howls of concern among Flossmoor residents, who fear the breed`s fearsome reputation for attacking people and other dogs.

More than 100 residents of the placid, upscale village, which last year attempted to ban pickup trucks, have signed a petition against pit bulls. They plan to push at Monday`s Village Board meeting for a law that either bans them entirely or regulates how they must be restrained.

Such a move in another community has failed. On Tuesday, the Carol Stream Village Board voted 4-3 to defeat a measure that would have banned the breed. The board instead is considering strengthening regulation of all vicious animals.

Controls being considered include leashing (Carol Steam has no leash law for dogs); heavier fines for violation of animal control regulations; and a requirement for owners of vicious animals to carry increased liability insurance.

An ordinance still under consideration defines a vicious animal as ``one with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury to or otherwise threaten the safety of human beings or other animals.`` Pit bulls are not specified.

The defeated pit-bull measure had been under consideration for several months. There are five known pit bulls in Carol Stream whose owners opposed it.

Flossmoor`s village manager Peggy Glassford said, ``Neighbors are very concerned about whether these animals are safe.`` She said has received several calls and letters from residents concerned about pit bulls.

She said that while the puppy has been the main focus of concern, at least two other families in the village own pit bull terriers, according to dog license records, and there may be more of the animals.

There have been no reports of pit bulls attacking anyone in the village. But residents say they don`t want to wait for that to happen before taking action against them.

``Most communities have laws on the books about vicious dogs,`` said Francis Pullam, Patricia`s husband. ``The drawback to those laws is it requires a tragedy to happen before the dog can be declared vicious.``

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, pit bulls accounted for 62 percent of the dog-bite fatalities in 1987 and 1988 and 42 percent of such fatalities between 1979 and 1988.

``We do not believe that pit bulls represent anywhere near 42 percent of dogs in the United States. Therefore we believe that the pit bull excess in deaths is real and increasing,`` authors of the 1989 article wrote.

A flier being passed around the Flossmoor neighborhood where the pit bull puppy lives warns neighbors that the dogs ``do not just bite, they attack until the victim is motionless or dead. They can leap over a six-foot fence. They will attack other animals including dogs on leashes or even in your arms.``

Such attacks by the dogs, including several fatalities in the Chicago area in recent years, already have led to laws against them being enacted in a number of cities, including Ullin, Ill., Overland Park, Kan., and Cincinnati. The Fullams and their neighbors hope the Flossmoor board follows those examples and have provided copies of those ordinances to the trustees.

The ordinances generally require a pit bull owner to purchase liability insurance on the dog, keep it muzzled when it is on a leash and keep it in a caged area with a floor and ceiling.

``General vicious dog laws are just not sufficient to protect

(people),`` said Francis Fullam, who has two young sons. ``These dogs are quite a bit more unpredictable, I understand. It`s not how you raise them. They have this genetic streak in them.``

His next-door neighbor, Linda Banks, whose daughter-in-law adopted the pit bull puppy, said her neighbors have no cause for complaint.

``My dog very seldom goes out, and when it does it is on a leash,`` she said, complaining in turn that poodles belonging to some other neighbors frequent her yard without her consent.

Besides, she said, ``I have grandchildren in the house, and I wouldn`t jeopardize my grandchildren.``

``I`m sick of my neighbors,`` she added angrily. ``They need to keep their noses out of my business. It`s my dog, and I`ll do whatever I want with my dog.``

She said she had refused an offer by the neighbors to buy her family any other dog they wanted in return for getting rid of the pit bull. And she said she would not attend Monday`s meeting.

Her neighbors still hope to change her mind.

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