City should focus on owner responsibility

City should focus on owner responsibility
John Skilbred, a member of People for Patches, addressed the Vermillion City Council Monday night.

He read a lengthy statement written by his wife, Julie Rae Hammontree, that offers what she believes would be a better approach than the shooting of out-of-control dogs in Vermillion.

People for Patches was formed shortly after a police officer killed a black lab named Patches on a day that the dog, which the owner admits she couldn't control, bit at least one person and avoided capture by Vermillion Police and other city employees.

The dog was shot and killed as it lunged, with teeth bared, toward an officer.

Hammontree is calling for the formation of a task force, the training of police officers in animal behavior, and the employment of animal control officers that would work around the clock.

There's a crucial element missing from her statement – one that supersedes all others: owner responsibility.

A task force can sniff through police records all year long without making progress as long as there are dog owners that continue to have a cavalier attitude about their pets' behavior.

The solution to the pet problem in Vermillion is really very simple, and it doesn't rest with our police officers.

According to Hammontree, "The shooting of animals is a concern that needs to be addressed in Vermillion."

We disagree. The real concern we all should have is the 'Why should I care?' approach that some animal owners seem to demonstrate in the city.

Our animal control policy is fine. The problem isn't with our police, or city codes. It's with people who refuse to keep their animals under control.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at

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