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Please politely educate AC director, Hilton Cole, on the "statistics" regarding pit bulls and breed specific legislation.

Animal Control Center
Hilton M. Cole, Director
2680 Progress Rd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70807
(225) 774-7700 Office
(225) 774-7876 Fax
[email protected]

Anti-pit bull faction won't let matter drop

Metro Councilman Mike Walker may be abandoning his breed-specific regulations aimed at pit bulls, but city-parish Animal Control Center Director Hilton Cole is not ready to give up just yet.

Cole said he remains convinced that a breed-specific law is the only way to address pit bull problems in East Baton Rouge Parish, even though Parish Attorney Wade Shows has repeatedly warned that it could cause constitutional problems.

"The statistics speak for themselves. They show that one breed, the pit bull, is causing a disproportionate share of problems," Cole said.

Of the 105 dog bites that led to impoundments in the parish through July 13 of this year, 33 involved pit bulls. In addition, one pit bull mix was impounded for biting a person during that period.

The bottom line, Cole said, is that pit bulls are a threat to the public.

"My job is to tell the council the statistics and let them decide what to do. We're going to enforce whatever they pass," Cole said.

But it appears that the council will not consider any dog-related legislation for a while.

Walker's office issued a memo to the council Tuesday, explaining that he needs more time to rework the proposed ordinance to remove all breed-specific regulations against pit bulls.

Meanwhile, a critic of Walker's breed-specific legislation on the council is calling for a 90-day deferral so the legislation can be reworked by a study committee.

Councilman Ulysses "Bones" Addison said it would be "foolish" to adopt breed-specific regulations that are likely to trigger a legal battle.

"Why would we vote to pass something that's going to get us sued the same day we pass it?" Addison asked.

The pit bulls that Cole and his officers deal with are not the same dogs that are popular family pets in many East Baton Rouge homes, Addison said.

Most pit bulls are kept by people who are going to follow whatever regulations the council passes, Addison said.

By contrast, the "problem" pit bulls that Cole's officers encounter on the streets often belong to professional dog fighters, drug dealers, irresponsible owners and others who do not pay attention to laws, he said.

"It doesn't matter what regulations we pass, the criminal element isn't going to follow them," Addison said.

Addison said he'd like to see dog owners, veterinarians and animal advocates representatives on the study committee.

The panel that helped Walker draft his proposed ordinance consisted of Cole, Walker's legislative aide, and two residents of Walker's district concerned about the recent mauling of a 13-year-old boy by a pit bull in their subdivision.

Addison said the mauling was unfortunate, but should not be the reason for new legislation. "At the end of the day, it was an isolated incident," he said.

Addison said he does not see Walker's ordinance as resolving any problem.

Walker said recently that he is giving up on the breed-specific regulations because he cannot get enough council votes to pass it.

Among other things, the breed-specific regulations would have required pit bull owners to get a special registration, and to keep their pets in pens or kennels within a fenced yard with signs that say, "Pit Bull on Premises."


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