A Manchester resident is challenging in court the City of Manchester’s dog ordinance which forbids pitbulls from running at large and unleashed.
Sheron McRoberts, of the 1000 block of Briarhurst Dr., alleges she has been unfairly and unconstitutionally penalized for owning two dogs, which her lawsuit refers to as “unknown mixed breed.” McRoberts filed the suit against the city of Manchester on June 22. It can be read in the PDF portion of this article.
McRoberts claims in her suit that between 2010 and 2011 she received four citations by the Manchester Police Department for failure to maintain or confine her dogs as required by the ordinance.
“...the Ordinance unfairly financially penalizes the plaintiff, charging her with having violated the dog ordinance, regardless of whether plaintiff’s dogs have harmed another person or property of another...” states the lawsuit.
Part of the Manchester city ordinance in question states that a pitbull is defined as either a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier or the American Pit Bull Terrier.
The ordinance, however, also includes dogs “which have the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds” of the aforementioned dogs.
McRoberts said in the lawsuit that her dogs were only characterized by Manchester police as “vicious” based on their appearance, not the actual breed or behavior of the dogs. The lawsuit states that appearance is subjective and open to interpretation, which gives Manchester too much discretion over what constitutes a vicious dog.
“...and thus violates the plaintiff’s constitutional rights (of due process),” the lawsuit states.
According to the Manchester dog ordinance, a "vicious dog" cannot run around loose, even in the backyard. It has to be on a leash no longer than four feet and must be muzzled.
According to the lawsuit, the dog ordinance is vague and ambiguous because it lacks a criteria for finding out if a dog is of one of the three breeds addressed in the ordinance.
McRoberts seeks for the court to declare Manchester’s ordinance unconstitutional and to be refunded for expenditures relating to this lawsuit.
The City of Manchester declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but Manchester City Attorney Patrick Gunn said at a recent board of aldermen meeting that McRoberts is challenging the city's "vigorously" enforced dog ordinance. Gunn also said he believes she owns pitbulls.
Sheron McRoberts' attorney was not available for comment when contacted by Patch.
In a similar case in Town and Country, a woman is also complaining about Town and Country's dog ordinance, which defines a pitbull as a vicious dog and places additional restrictions on it because of the "vicious" label. Town and Country residents Dr. Kenneth Bentley and his wife Kathleen, own a dog that resembles a pitbull, but they say they don't know its breed.
Rather than suing the city, however, they are asking their aldermen to modify the ordinance.
A revised ordinance could be adopted at Monday's Town and Country's board of alderman meeting.