Dog Federation Prez Says $700 'Dangerous' Dog Licensing Fee Won't Work

Ridgewood's reasons to significantly increase a dog licensing fee are faulty, a resident and dog club president argued. The village has maintained it's concerned about the time and cost spent monitoring 'dangerous' dogs.

A Ridgewood resident and president of the state's federated canine club says the village's effort to increase licensing fees onto owners of 'dangerous dogs' will not solve the problems it faces.

Addressing the council Wednesday night, Jeffrey Ball said the council's proposed ordinance to increase licensing fees of court-designated "dangerous dogs" to $700 misses the mark on several fronts.

"A true dangerous dog is a problem and needs to be dealt with in an appropriate way," Ball, the current president of the NJ Federation of Dog Clubs, said. "Just raising the licensing fee is not the answer."

According to Ball, a long-time resident, Ridgewood's belief that shifting the financial burden of monitoring a 'dangerous' dog onto the owner isn't statuatorily possible.

The village has argued a resident was before municipal court in December for a dog attack and health department staffers were concerned about the time they were spending on the case. Hence, the ordinance was recommended to village management.

But the state's statute requires only monthly checks of the animal and the cost cannot be passed on to the owner, Ball said.

"Increasing the dog licensing is not going to affect your liability, whether the state mandates a minimum of $150 or a maximum of $700," he added. "To increase it to $700 is not going to change whether a town is liable or not liable. The reason for the increase you're giving is not accurate."

The only way to guard against liability issues is to not deviate from state-recommended protocol, Ball said.

He also worried about the perception Ridgewood is being seen by outsiders as not being a pet-friendly town.

"Generally it's not the dogs that are the problem, it's the owner," Ball said.

"Education is the most important thing. This town could be a leader in this and I'd be the first one to volunteer...before upping this license let's look at the whole thing."

Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck defended against the stated perception the village sees animals as an adversary of sorts.

"Just like it's a child-friendly town and a family-friendly town, this is a pet-friendly town," she maintained, adding the council allowed a family to bring their dogs to a council meeting during the height of Super Storm Sandy. 

Mayor Paul Aronsohn instructed village staff to meet with Ball to discuss possible educational opportunities.

The public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.

News Man January 31, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Is there one breed more dangerous than any other? If it looked like the dog photo post here, I wouldn't have one. What do you think?
Mike Kender February 01, 2013 at 02:34 AM
If someone has a dangerous dog, why should we welcome it to stay in town? A $700 fee seems low to me,
The Flea February 01, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Eastside Dad is on the right track. There is not one of us who would feel comfortable living next door to a dog that has been deemed "vicious" by the court. That classification could/would come ONLY AFTER the dog has seriously bitten someone or killed someone's dog or cat.
Ridgewood Mom February 06, 2013 at 09:57 PM
I like to keep a pit bull in my home for self defense and recreational purposes. Just because someone else does not feel the need to own a pit bull does not mean that they should be allowed to take away my right. It doesn't make sense to punish responsible pit bulls owners by taking away their pit bulls just because some other people use their pit bulls badly. It is my constitutional right to own a pit bull as protected via an amendment upheld by many legal scholars and judicial opinions. So no one has any business questioning that. Sure some people misuse pit bulls but that is not the fault of the pit bull. It is because they are bad guy pit bull owners, who are decisively distinct from good guy pit bull owners like me. What we need to do is weed out the mentally handicapped people who would seek to use pit bulls badly. Taking pit bulls away from the good guys won't help. It'll just leave us defenseless from people with diagnoses such as clinical depression and personality disorder... and children diagnosed with ADHD. And those bad guy pit bull owners are going to get themselves a pit bull anyway, whether we try to make it illegal or not. They have no respect for the law. So, again, if we try to make pit bulls illegal then only the bad guys will have pit bulls and the good guys won't have pit bulls to protect themselves. Remember, when push comes to shove the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a pit bull is a good guy with a pit bull.
Cheryl Matthews February 08, 2013 at 05:27 PM
I am offended not only by this legislation but also by the picture of the dog used in conjunction with this article. If there were legislation pending that would require persons of a specific race to pay an extra $10,000 per year to the town in order to live there, a fee based solely on their race and the stereotypes regarding that race as being more prone to violent crime... Would that be acceptable? Of course not. Life is about experiences of individuals with individuals. Painting with a brad brush is a very scary and slippery slope.


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