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YALOBUSHA COUNTY, Miss. — Yalobusha County is the latest area government to try to address the problem of vicious dogs terrorizing neighborhoods.

Officials admit a new ordinance that takes effect Dec. 22 is not as harsh as some adopted by other areas, but they say they are trying to balance increased complaints with the rights of pet owners.

The law requires the sheriff’s department to assess whether a dog is vicious on a case-by-case basis. If the dog meets certain standards, the owner must pay a $50 fee. The dog also will have to be restrained and vaccinated, which already is required by state law.

If the owner then is found to be in violation, the penalties mount:

— First offense – Up to 10 days in jail and a minimum $100 fine, no more than $200;

— Second offense – Mandatory 15 to 30 days jail time and a $200 to $500 fine and removal of the dog;

— Third offense – 30 to 60 days in jail, and a fine of $1,000 to $2,000 and removal of the dog.

Pet owners can appeal the sheriff’s assessment to the board of supervisors and circuit court.

The new ordinance only applies to the unincorporated areas of the county and not to the cities of Water Valley or Coffeeville.

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