Several Prince George's County Council members are considering strengthening the county's vicious-animal ordinance -- already considered model legislation by national animal control experts -- as part of the nationwide debate over the keeping of pit bull terriers.
At least three council members have asked county attorneys to look into strengthening the two-year-old county ordinance. One proposal would allow animal control officers to keep vicious animals without requiring a hearing with the owner, which is now mandated by law.
Although none of the council members said they want to single out pit bulls and their owners, several highly publicized attacks by the breed in the Washington area have raised questions about the adequacy of the county law.
"We've been getting a lot of calls on this," said council member Sue V. Mills. "It is the overwhelming subject topic since last spring. I'm not saying we go out and mass burn them all. Legislation certainly would be deemed necessary to protect the dogs from cruelty as well as protect people."
Since January 1986, there have been 20 fatal dog attacks across the country, 13 of which involved pit bull terriers. No fatalities involving dangerous animals have occurred in Prince George's, county officials said, but in June, a 5-year-old Rogers Heights boy was attacked by his father's pit bull. The boy was severely bitten and required plastic surgery for his face.