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New Dog Law Proposal Prompts Backlash in Rockford

The Rockford City Council has revisited a controversial dog ordinance. It was initiated by 14th Alderman Mark Bonne and has been met with significant public and professional criticism. The proposal, sparked by a fatal dog attack in Bonne’s ward, aims to introduce restrictions on dog ownership. These restrictions also include limiting the number of dogs per household to three. The proposal seeks to address issues related to barking and sanitation, but it has encountered opposition for potentially leading to negative consequences for both pets and owners.

Stephanie Hicks, Executive Director of We Care For Pets and a state-approved humane investigator, has been vocal about her concerns regarding the proposed ordinance. Hicks argued that creating laws based on a single incident could negatively affect responsible dog owners. This could potentially lead to an increased number of dogs in already overcrowded animal shelters. She questioned the rationale behind distinguishing between households with three dogs and those with four, particularly in relation to issues such as violence and excessive barking.

Despite these concerns, Alderman Bonne assured that the ordinance aims to protect the community from aggressive dogs and enhance overall quality of life and animal welfare in Rockford. He clarified that the ordinance would not affect owners who already have four or more dogs, as long as they register these pets — per WIFR.

Hicks acknowledged certain aspects of the ordinance, such as the need for stricter regulations on animal living conditions and controlling excessive barking. However, she strongly believes that reconsideration of the limitation on the number of pets per household is necessary.

Moreover, she proposed the formation of a committee comprising animal welfare specialists to offer the City Council advice on effectively reducing dog-related incidents without imposing undue restrictions on responsible dog owners.

Monday night’s meeting concluded the debate with a close vote, narrowly passing the ordinance by a 3-2 margin.

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