The Lake Helen City Commission tackled an overhaul of the city’s animal ordinance after a dog allegedly killed a mini therapy horse last year.
The biggest change in the new ordinance is the creation of a dangerous-dog registry. The registry will enable city officials, and the public, to monitor dogs deemed dangerous. Other changes in the ordinance, like the definition of a “domestic animal,” could open the door to further penalties in the event an animal is killed by a dog on the list.
The owners of the equine, another of whose mini horses were apparently killed by dogs in 2017, said they have finally been brought some peace.
“This has been a long time coming; there have been too many horses attacked,” Annmarie Blair said. “Finally, the ordinance is amended for little Bella, who has been through so much.”
Blair’s 6-year-old granddaughter, Isabelle “Bella” Blair, was traumatized by the loss of Gracie, her mini therapy horse, in 2019, her grandmother said. Bella was only three years old when her other mini therapy horse, Teddy, was found with brutal bites. He later succumbed to his injuries.
With the assistance of City Commissioner Kelly Frasca, who spearheaded the change, the city reworked its ordinance to create the dangerous-dog registry, which is named “Bella’s Dangerous Dog Registry.” The registry allows information about which dogs have been deemed dangerous to be readily available to the public.
The morning after the commission unanimously passed the amended ordinance was the first time since 2017 Bella has not woken up in tears, Blair said.
At the Aug. 13 meeting, Bella spoke to the commission.
“Thank you for the dangerous-dog registry,” Bella said. She then addressed Lake Helen Police Chief Mike Walker.
“Chief — when the people with the dangerous dogs move, will you have a tea party with me?” she asked. “Absolutely,” Walker responded.
“She made amends with Chief Walker. She finally felt like — you are doing your job to protect me,” her grandmother said the next day.
“[The registry] works for every Bella — and it works for everyone,” Blair said. “Other cities could learn from this.”