RIVERSIDE – The City Council is moving closer to approving an ordinance that will prohibit dogs from running at large.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, the council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that prohibits dogs from running at large, while promoting responsible pet ownership.

For the past four months, the mayor and council have discussed a possible animal control ordinance which would require animals to remain under control of their owners.

Councilman Bill Cantley drafted the ordinance, which council members will consider passing at their next regularly scheduled council meeting on Aug. 5.

Mayor Rusty Jessup said he could support Cantley’s drafted ordinance, while Councilman Kenny Womack said he wanted an ordinance with more teeth. Jessup and Womack were not present for Monday night’s vote.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to permit or allow any dog owned by him, or under his control, to roam or run at large within the city limits,” the proposed ordinance states.

The ordinance states that when a dog is off or outside the premises of the owner’s property, the owner must have “voice control” of the animal. The owner is not required to have the dog on a leash.

“Any dog found roaming or running at large shall be deemed to be a nuisance to the health and safety of the citizens, and shall be subject to being picked up and impounded as provided in this article, and the owner or person in charge thereof shall be subject to the penalties herein provided,” the proposed ordinance states.

The mayor and council began discussing a possible leash law after 5-year-old John Harvard died from injuries suffered during a pit bull attack.

“It shall be unlawful for any dog to cause action(s) that precipitate into a dangerous circumstance that threatens the safety of those nearby,” the ordinance states.

The ordinance defines a “dangerous circumstance” as “a time or place that a dog is engaging in or threatening to engage in possible injury, harm or death to a human being or another animal.”

The ordinance goes on to state that, “Any dog, regardless of breed, which has a disposition to bite humans and any animal, which has bitten or attempted to bite any person within six months immediately past shall be deemed to be a vicious dog.”

The ordinance states it is unlawful for a person to keep any vicious dog in the city, unless the animal is confined to a pen.

The ordinance sets fines ranging from $25 to $100 for any violations of the new city ordinance.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.