Proposal to tighten vicious dog ordinance in Benton

(KATV) Benton - On the heels of the story we brought you Sunday about a bullmastiff killing a five-year old in Garland County, Benton city officials are working to tighten their dog ordinance.

The case that shed light on the Benton dog ordinance also has to do with a bull mastiff. However, the proposed ordinance changes have nothing to do with banning specific breeds, rather if they are deemed vicious.

Cindy Bowden's 13-year old Bichon named Shelby was killed during their routine walk in January, by a dog that reportedly got out of its yard. "It was horrible. It was horrible."

Since then, she has made it her mission to change the city's animal control law. Additions and amendments have been drafted. Tuesday, it was approved by Benton's Community Service and Animal Control Committee. Bowden says, "At the meeting I told them that most major changes in history have happened because of tragedy and you have to have passion and if you work hard you can make things happen."

The proposed changes are not breed specific. April Hawley explains, "Once they are declared vicious by the County Judge, that is when this all will fall into place."

Hawley is the manager at Benton Animal Control. She says they don't want to penalize owners obeying the law. The draft specifies stricter regulations on dogs that have attacked. "The new additions will be public liability insurance for $500,000.00. Previously it was $100,000.00 so it will go up quite drastically. Registration of $1,000 per year for each vicious dog and the dog must be micro chipped by a veterinarian."

Bowden hopes her tragedy will save people and animals lives. "I didn't want her life to be for nothing or for her to die in such a manor to be overlooked."

Hawley adds, "We have dog attacks, we have one every month at least."

The Saline County District Court Judge has the sole authority to deem a dog vicious. A "vicious dog" is defined as any animal that wounds a person or kills a domestic pet without being provoked. It may also be deemed vicious if it chases or approaches someone in a menacing fashion when it is not on its property.

The drafted ordinance will go before the Benton City Council for a vote June 24. Stay with and Channel Seven for updates.