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February 7 2006 - Dog registry proposed; Web site would list names, addresses of dangerous animals

A county in Florida plans to post the names, pictures and home addresses of dangerous dogs online, much like the state’s sex offender registry.  Dogs that attack other animals, chase children or bite neighbors already must be sterilized, microchipped, and confined in cages with warning signs.  Manatee County’s plan is an additional safeguard against potentially dangerous dogs.

The goal is to warn people who may move into a neighborhood with a dangerous dog, said Larry Adams, a field supervisor for Animal Services. It would also serve as a caution to parents with small children.

"People got the right to know they live next door to a dog that's declared dangerous," Adams said.

Dogs can be labeled dangerous for acting menacing, chasing people or biting. Some counties, such as Hillsborough, already have dangerous dog databases. Their database features 54 dogs, mostly pit bulls and rottweilers but also some chows and a Lhasa apso. It includes a picture of each dog and a link to maps showing where they live.

In Manatee, owners of dangerous dogs must notify Animal Services if they move and agree to allow at least two annual inspections of their dog and its pen. If a dangerous dog bites again or an owner doesn't comply with the rules, the animals can be confiscated and euthanized.

Putting Manatee's list online is one of several animal ordinance changes the County Commission will consider today. Kristopher Weiskopf, the county's chief of animal services, said the proposed changes would make owners of dangerous dogs more accountable and reduce the chance of repeat animal violence.
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