Do communities need stronger local laws dealing with dangerous dogs? Or are current state laws, which call for the destruction of vicious dogs and civil penalties of up to $1,000 for their owners, enough to keep the threat at bay?

A Biddeford councilor, David Bourque, says he is considering drafting a local ordinance that would require dogs of a certain size or breed to be muzzled, and would potentially hold dog owners financially liable for paying medical bills and damages to people injured by dogs.

Waterville’s police chief is also considering yanking the leash on owners of dangerous dogs, and like many people, is specifically worried about pit bulls as an unusually dangerous breed. There’s considerable argument over the accuracy of that diagnosis, and current Maine law bans measures aimed at specific breeds. Workers in the animal welfare field say that it’s the combination of dog and owner that creates a hazard, not any given type of dog.

Everyone knows big dogs that are harmless lummoxes, and small dogs that nip ankles, so it’s hard to see how just the size of a dog should require it to be muzzled.

However, once a dog is proven to be a danger to people or other animals, holding its owner responsible for medical costs or other damages would seem to be worthwhile.

People are responsible for their pets, and whether they train them to be vicious, or merely fail to teach them not to be, they should pay a price if those pets’ inner predator comes to the fore.