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Nassau County May Get Dangerous Dog Ordinance Requiring Owners To Notify Neighbors Of Problematic Pets

LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A new online tool has been proposed in Nassau County to keep track of dangerous dogs.

A dog could have a history of attacking other dogs, and yet neighbors may have no idea.

That's about to change.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported on Monday, his owner says Benny, a Tibetan terrier, is still traumatized. Two years ago, he was set upon. John Ferretti returned to his Levittown home to find his pet in the jaws of a neighbor's dog.

"I saw a very large dog attached to our family dog and, of course, my mother standing there screaming," Ferretti said.

The attacking dog left Benny for dead. He survived with multiple surgeries.

The aggressor was deemed a "dangerous dog" by a county judge, a legal designation that comes with rules about how he can be let out. But that information is not shared publicly.

"I continued to watch community members walk right past that house, with their animals, with their babies... completely unaware that there is a dangerous animal 20 feet from them," Ferretti said.

Ferretti, also a Nassau County legislator, wants to change that.

Benny's Law creates a dangerous dog registry in the county -- a public database of court-determined dangerous dogs.

"Should they move somewhere, that another community knows that this dog has been deemed dangerous, and the neighbors need to know that," said Nassau County Legislator Rose Walker.

The head of Nassau's SPCA said it is important to report dog bites to police.

"Sooner or later, that dog may mistake an infant on the front lawn for another pet and go after that. So this is why these bills are very important," said Gary Rogers of the Nassau County SPCA.

Other states and counties have dangerous dog registries which include the dog's residence, description and terms of its court order. Other municipalities have had to balance public safety with privacy issues.

"I think that would be a privacy thing," one pet owner told Gusoff.

Pet owners she spoke with had few concerns. Nassau's registry will not list owner's names, but will require them to mail notifications to all homes within a 1,000-foot radius.

"Roughly six blocks. They will be put on notice, there has been an incident here. This is the order, these are the restrictions that this dog is under," Ferretti said.

The bill unanimously passed committees and heads to the full Legislature in two weeks.

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