Public hearing has both pros and cons of ban
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
By Candice Gilbert and Tara McDade
A public hearing was held Aug. 11 at the City Hall Courtroom to discuss the proposed banning of pit bulldogs from the Malvern city limits. The hearing was called to order by Mayor Steve Northcutt. Concerned citizens had five minutes to discuss the ordinance.
The first speaker was Brenda McGhee, who is an owner of a pit bull and not in favor of the ordinance. McGhee urged the City Council to look at the facts and not just the hearsay.
McGhee expressed that all dogs could be dangerous under certain circumstances and it was the irresponsible owners that are not protecting people and other animals from injury. She stated that the banning of pit bulls would cause the loss of a family member for her.
The next speaker was Bill Griffin, who had spoken to the City Council during their regular
July meeting and proposed the ban after his daughter’s three small dogs were attacked by pit bulls in her yard. Griffin was able to save two of them, but was too late to save the other. “It has been a very traumatic experience for us,” Griffin said of the situation.
Jeremy Buckholtz then took the podium to speak against the ordinance. Buckholtz said, “It is the people who raise the dog fault. You can have any dog and make it mean.” He stated that taking away pit bulls would be taking his children’s pets away.
Linda Griffin, the wife of Bill Griffin, then stood up to talk about the original incident that happened in July of this year. Mrs. Griffin stated, “No one should have to see what we did.”
She stated that the owners still had three pit bulls at their residence and that she was afraid to be outside or go for her walk through the neighborhood without her husband present.
Griffin also stated that not long after her daughter’s dogs were attacked, she was allegedly charged by one of the same owner’s pit bulls.
Teresa Sharp, who was not in favor of the ordinance, then stood up to speak. Sharp stated that she was an owner of two generations of pit bulls and had also re-trained a pit bull that was once used for fighting. Sharp said, “we need to explore our options.”
Clyde Hughes spoke in favor of the ordinance, stating that his wife was bitten by a pit bull over a year ago. Hughes explained why he thought that the ordinance was important.
The next speaker was Tracy McJunkin, who spoke against the ordinance. She said that the pit bull is, “just as sweet and nice as any other animal.”
McJunkin stated that pit bulls are only mean if that is how they are trained to be; just as a German shepherd is trained to be a K-9.
Lisa Buckholtz also spoke against the ordiance. Buckholtz stated that not all pit bulls are vicious. She and her husband own pit bulls. She stated that her pit bulls are loving dogs and her kids ride them like horses.
Rob Albey stood up to speak in favor of the ordinance. Albey said he was in favor of at least a temporary ban until people can determine whether or not their dog is violent. He suggested characteristic testing done by professionals who can identify vicious tendencies in an animal. He did not feel that all owners should be punished, but that the irresponsible owners should be cleaned out before Pit Bulls were once again allowed.
Emily McGhee, who works at a local veterinarian clinic in town, stood up to speak against the ordinance. McGhee stated that she “sees these things everyday—dogs being torn up by other dogs.” McGhee also stated that, “Pit Bulls are made that way from people not taking care of them.”
Kristin Plummer, who lives in the same neighborhood as the Griffins, spoke in favor of the ordinance. Plummer said it was about the safety of the neighborhood. Plummer also said that the neighborhood had been invaded with a lack of security.
Gary Gray spoke against the ordinance, stating, “most people have learned what they know about pit bulls through the media.”
After the citizens were all allowed to speak, a short question and answer session was allowed for the Aldermen.
Alderman C.E. West asked the Pit Bull owners if they were willing to take out $100,000 libility insurance on their Pit Bulls.
The response from the owners present was that once again, there was the issue of targeting Pit Bull dogs and not all vicious dogs, such as Rottweilers and Doberman Pinchers.
Gay Birch stated, “We can pass all the laws we want but they need to be enforced. We need to enforce the ones that we already have and maybe we won’t need the new one.”
Northcutt and Donnie Taber, Malvern Police Chief, stated that a new Animal Control Officer had just been hired. Taber said he felt that the new officer would do a good job for the city. Taber also spoke about the current leash law that the city has and said that the officers couldn’t be out there looking for dogs without their leashes and their owners all the time, but that they did their best. Taber stressed the importance of notifying the police when a person sees a dog loose.
After everyone had a chance to speak, Northcutt allowed each speaker the option to speak for one additional minute. Northcutt stated that he would appoint a committee consisting of the Council members and of volunteers to address this issue.
Bless the Bullys