Dog trainers will now have to be registered, licensed in Hillsborough Co.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s the first of it’s kind ordinance in the entire country and by a vote of 5-2, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners gave the green light to “Truth-in-Training,” which would regulate dog trainers in the county.

The trainers will now have to be registered, licensed and make an agreement with customers for a training plan for specific training methods as well as equipment that will and will not be used.

The ordinance, spearheaded by Commissioner Al Higgenbotham, will require trainers to show clients their credentials and have proof that they have liability insurance of at least $100,000.

Before the meeting, people stood in line waiting to get in to voice their opinion, but around 8:30 a.m., witnesses told News Channel 8 a service dog being brought in by controversial dog trainer, Clark Inghram of Inghram Sit N Stay of Tampa, bit a young boy by attaching itself to the child’s neck for anywhere between five to seven seconds.

Witnesses say the child reportedly didn’t do anything to provoke the dog.  Pictures and video provided to News Channel 8 show first responders tending to the boy.  He was rushed to the hospital and at this time, there’s no word on his identity or his condition.

Moments after the incident, witnesses then told us Inghram took the dog and walked out of the building.  Video provided to News Channel 8 showed him later returning with a Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy by his side.

Later, the meeting got underway and people took their turns voicing their opinions about the ordinance. Most of them were against the ordinance.

Opponents say there are already ordinances in place to stop animal abuse. In fact, they point out that in the last four years, there were nearly 17,000 cases of alleged animal abuse in the county and none of them, they say, were related to dog trainers.

Proponents say the ordinance is necessary because in addition to the credentials and liability insurance, they’ll also have to undergo local and federal background checks.  Trainers convicted of animal cruelty would be banned from working in Hillsborough County.

Opponents also say it will harm small business owners and keep some animals from getting the training they need. They predict many dogs will end up in shelters and in worst case scenarios, die.

They also point out that trainers could also be shut down.

After four violations, they say, the county would shut them down but if there was a big enough violation, the county could shut them down immediately based on their evaluation.

The idea of an ordinance began after Lorie Childers of Land O’Lakes lost her dog Sarge, her Shih Tzu-Pekingese mix puppy.  He died after being at a pet day care several years ago.  We’re told a necropsy was never conducted and there’s no word on an official cause of death.

The ordinance will go into effect Jan. 1.

News Channel 8 is working on trying to find the identity and condition of the child bitten by the dog. The dog was euthanized.

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