Groveport City Council debates dog dilemma


By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Groveport City Council is considering banning dogs from city events after receiving complaints about bad canine and dog owner behavior at Apple Butter Day.

However, a local dog trainer says the answer is not a ban, but education.

“I don’t feel banning dogs at events is the answer,” said Deborah Franks of Deb’s Dog Training and Behavior Modification. “I suggest public education.”

Franks, a professional dog trainer and canine behavior expert who has taught many seminars on dog training, said free training seminars could be offered as a public service, at possibly Groveport Town Hall, to address the responsibilities of owning a dog, understanding canine behavior,  and canine obedience training.

“I want Groveport to be a dog-friendly town,” said Franks. “It’s a mistake to ban dogs from city events. Instead, let’s monitor the irresponsible owners and not punish the responsible owners. Whatever I can do to help, I’m willing.”

Council’s consideration of potentially banning dogs from city events arose in October when Council President Shawn Cleary said he received complaints from residents  concerned about a problem they witnessed at the Apple Butter Day festival involving dogs in the Groveport Cemetery.

Cleary said one letter noted that some people attending the festival took their dogs into the cemetery “to do their business” and then did not clean up after them.”

“This is sad and disrespectful,” said Cleary, who added that he loves dogs, but he feels it only takes one incident to cause a problem at an event.

Franks said she agreed that taking the dogs into the cemetery was disrespectful.

“That person should be fined,” said Franks. “But banning dogs from events is not a cure.”

Councilwoman Becky Hutson said she observed two large, leashed dogs at the Apple Butter Day festival who squared off and looked like they were ready to fight each other and that the owners appeared to have trouble controlling the dogs.

“The problem is mostly the owners,” said Hutson. “I love my dog, but I wouldn’t take him to Apple Butter Day.”

Councilman Ed Dildine, who said he is not against dogs, said he thinks offering training classes is a good idea, but he also wants to err on the side of caution.

City Law Director Kevin Shannon said there is currently no legal ban on leashed dogs at city events. He said the city does have animal nuisance laws in place, such as, if a dog defecates in a public place, the owner is required to clean it up or be fined up to $150 plus court costs. Also, if a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner could face a higher level charge.

Shannon noted that, if a police officer had seen the owners who allowed their dogs to defecate in Groveport Cemetery on Apple Butter Day, the officer would have cited the owners.

“But an officer did not see it happening at the time,” said Shannon.

Council members are still considering placing a ban on dogs at city events.

Mayor Lance Westcamp invited Franks to attend the city’s upcoming Apple Butter Day committee meetings as well as the Fourth of July committee meetings to offer input on the issue.

According to City Administrator Marsha Hall, if the festival committees decide a dog ban is necessary at the city events, they would make a recommendation to council to take action. Council would then have to approve an ordinance to put a dog ban at city events into effect.

Westcamp also asked city officials to look into Franks’ offer to present dog training classes at Groveport Town Hall.


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