Tuesday night’s meeting of New Hope Borough Council saw the appointment of a new member to their ranks, and the long-awaited passage of an amendment to the borough’s dog control code.
Early on in the evening, council voted to appoint Dan J. Dougherty of West Ferry Street to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Member and President Bill Scandone. Scandone has remained resigned since Feb. 13.
Dougherty had been a contender last fall to fill the vacancy caused by Council Member Cliff Montgomery’s resignation effective Oct. 1, 2016, but borough council appointed favorite son Joe Franlin instead at the time.
Any resident of the borough may apply for a vacant council position, although council has the power to appoint whomever they please, and do.
Dougherty graduated Temple University in 1994 with a degree in actuarial studies, and retired after serving in human resources at Independence Blue Cross.
“While I am a relatively recent addition to New Hope, I feel my background in finance and human resources would allow me to make an immediate contribution by assisting my fellow council members and the council president in the evaluation of contracts, budgets and planning,” said Dougherty last fall. “I’m also very interested and excited to serve on the various committees that focus on improving the quality of life for our residents and businesses.”
Borough council also heard commentary and considered a proposed amendment to the borough’s dog control code. Calls for stronger regulation of dog ownership began at a New Hope Borough Council meeting in August 2015, where Riverwoods residents Keith and Denice Horlacher recounted the horror of seeing their pet Maltese killed by a large off-leash dog some two weeks earlier.
An expansive new dog law governing canine ownership and control in the borough was shot down at a council meeting on April 19, 2016, because it sought to define and regulate “socialization” of dogs in the borough, a highly subjective and seemingly unenforceable requirement.
The latest set of tightened canine ownership guidelines did not include the controversial socialization section, but prohibited tethering of dogs outside a shop or restaurant while one runs inside to quickly purchase an item like a cup of coffee, and limited the length of any dog leash to six feet. The last part was stricken down, and the ordinance passed.
Whether the new law can help keep dogs and their owners from being attacked by canines owned by irresponsible humans remains to be seen. Keith Horlacher has devoted much effort to the new law, and one hopes the amendment’s passage will help bring comfort to he and his wife, who have tried to turn their terrible experience into positive action, as have Dennis Manoogian, Jennifer Lata, Erin Broad, and many others.
Meanwhile, credit is due to all those who worked for so long to improve local dog ordinances, including Council Member Laurie McHugh.