Dog owners weigh in on pit bull ordinance
By BARBARA GOLDMAN, Staff Writer
Thursday, July 3, 2008 3:07 AM EDT
The Maysville City Commission approved the second reading of an ordinance prohibiting pit bulls within city limits, during a special meeting Wednesday. The ordinance will require any pit bull found within city limits after September 1, 2008, to be seized and impounded. A pit bull seized will only be released to an owner producing evidence the animal will be permanently taken out of the city. If such proof is not provided, the dog shall be destroyed.
Multiple members of the community attended the meeting and spoke out against the ordinance.
Ann Denham said she understood the attempt to keep residents safe and asked if regulations for all dogs could be considered.
"All dog owners should be responsible for control of their animals," Denham said.
Denham mentioned leashes, license, muzzles, as well as training as possibilities that could be considered.
"If the pit bull is banned it will only be replaced by another animal and it will remain with the same irresponsible owner," Denham said.
Denham asked if an alternative solution could be found, while mentioning the American Kennel Club does not support such ordinances.
"Owners should be able to take their dogs to the vet," said Denham as she discussed the problem many county members worried about facing.
Brian Beckett of Lewisburg has owned a pit bull for four years. Beckett said he agreed with Denham and hoped the city of Maysville would find an effective and fair way to solve this problem.
"I don't think that a pit bull ban is the step to take," Beckett said. "This is not supported by any animal or human organization."
William Smallwood of Key Pike also attended the meeting to address his concerns about the ordinance.
"If they would only support the laws that we have now," Smallwood said.
Kathy Warner has been a pit bull owner in Maysville for six years. Warner attended the meeting and discussed owners taking more responsibility for their pets. Warner has a steel cage for her dog.
"I don't think it's right that you want the city residents who take care of their pets to get rid of them," Warner said.
Commissioners remained quiet as City Manager Ray Young addressed the community members in attendance.
Young said the city has received many complaints in neighborhoods where backyards are placed closely together and home owners are scared for their children.
"We have to do something proactive before someone gets hurt," Young said. "We've worked for five years to find a solution. We're trying to do what's right, particularly in the confined areas of downtown."
Young said pit bull owners in the county can transport their animals to veterinarians located within city limits.
"The dogs are better suited to a country area where they have space to roam," said Young.
Brian Beckett asked why there couldn't be higher fines or a three strike law.
Young explained attempts had been made over the past years to solve the problem and this was the best solution. Young said ordinances are normally enacted within 30 days, but this ordinance would allow owners until September 1, 2008 to find a home for their pit bulls.
"We need to educate the public and try to educate the owners," Denham said as she discussed other options.
Denham asked how the city would distinguish pit bulls when all of the problems have been from dogs assumed to be mixed with the pit bull.
Young said all dogs assumed to be pit bull would be checked by a veterinarian.
Alicia Beckett addressed commissioners saying she had driven downtown looking for the pit bulls said to be on the loose.
"I want to understand why people are afraid," Alicia Beckett said, adding that in her multiple trips downtown, she had only seen a lot of stray cats and a Jack Russell terrier.
Maysville Police Department Chief Kent Butcher said he had received around 27 animal calls in the past three months in addition to personal calls made.
"More than half of the animal calls were for pit bulls," said Butcher.
According to Butcher only three residents have registered their pit bulls at this time.
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Bless the Bullys