Changes to ‘dangerous dog’ policy in Independence causing issues for some owners

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Should a dog that's labeled "dangerous" be considered a menace forever? An Independence family says no, but the city's ordinance says yes.

No matter the circumstances, the city of Independence just updated its dangerous dog ordinance, and it includes a 10-year-old husky mix who doesn't even have teeth anymore.

"She's a scaredy cat. She's a big baby," Tina Henson said of her 10-year-old dog Lily.

Henson said back when Lily was a puppy, they ran into a problem.

"She stood at the end of the driveway of our old neighbor's house, and he pulled up, and he couldn't get out of the car because she was barking there," Henson said. "And he was afraid she was going to charge her, and he pressed charges."

According to a judge in Independence, Lily is a dangerous dog.

Lily

"At that time, she only had to make sure that she had rabies shots every year, micro-chipped, dog on premises sign, and she couldn't be on a long leash. It had to be a certain length," Henson said.

About a week ago, Henson got a letter in the mail about an update to the dangerous dog ordinance.

"Now we now have to send in four pictures," Henson said. "She has to have a caged muzzle, a 6-foot leash, and a $300,000 insurance policy."

That policy is new to Independence dog owners but not for other owners around the metro. Lee's Summit has the same requirements. KCMO's ordinance requires a little less insurance at $250,000. KCK requires a $1 million policy.

A manager with the city of Independence said the change was for uniformity between the cities' ordinances, and if you add it onto your homeowner's insurance, it's inexpensive.

But it's not that easy for Henson.

"If I had homeowners insurance or renters insurance, she could just be added, and it wouldn't be a big deal. I don`t have any of that, because I don`t own my own home," Henson said.

Now that Lily is reaching her golden years, she's less dangerous and more docile.

"She has no teeth now. She has bad bones. She don't bark hardly ever. She's not a dangerous dog, and she has no bite history," Henson said.

She thinks the ordinance requirements are a bit much for a dog without a bite.

"If you have a dog that has never bitten, doesn't have a history of bites, is old and doesn't get out of the house -- she has no teeth -- I think it should be done on a dog-by-dog basis," she said. "You know, not just we`re going to blanket this over every dog that`s had an issue."

The city said it's willing to work with residents as updates go into effect. Residents are asked to comply by the end of the month.