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Bitch Noone Wanted
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Preston will keep pit bull ban, family plans to put down pet
Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 4:01 pm

Preston will keep pit bull ban, family plans to put down pet By Devin Felix The Herald Journal | 6 comments

PRESTON - The Preston City Council chose Monday not to remove a city law that places restrictions on pit bulls, much to the disappointment of a Preston family.

The decision means that Elden and Heather Tolman and their children will not be allowed to bring their 7-year-old family dog, a Staffordshire bull terrier named Toby, back to their home unless they keep him in a secure cage and require him to be muzzled and on a chain when he's outside. Toby has been living alone since early June on a piece of land the Tolmans own outside city limits.
The family moved him there after being told by Preston Police Chief Val Sparrow about the law June 1.

"We're disappointed, of course," Elden Tolman said after the decision.

The Tolmans were hoping the council would remove a part of the city law that singles out pit bulls. Instead, the council voted 3-1 to leave the breed-specific portion of the bill intact while amending the law to require animals that had been declared to be vicious to be implanted with tracking chips so that police could better track them.

The decision came despite a recommendation by the city's attorney and police chief that the law be changed.

Preston's vicious animal ordinance sets forth several criteria under which a dog may be classified as "vicious." These include such behaviors as: approaching anyone "in an apparent attitude of attack" in a public place; having a "known propensity, tendency, or disposition to unprovoked attack" and biting or otherwise attacking "a human being or domestic animal without provocation."
Additionally, the law classifies all pit bulls as vicious, regardless of behavior.

During the six years the family has had Toby, he has never shown any sign of aggression and has been the perfect family dog, Elden Tolman said. At a council meeting last month, Elden Tolman presented several letters, including one from Toby's veterinarian, attesting to his calm temperament.

Elden and Heather Tolman were somber after the meeting. When asked what they would do with the dog now, they said they had decided to have him put down rather than put him through a separation from the family - either by confining him to an outside enclosure or finding another home for him.

Councilmembers Todd Thomas, Travis Kunz and Saundra Hubbard all supported keeping the pit bull-specific part of the law, while Neal Thomas spoke in favor of removing it. Thomas and Kunz were the most vocal councilmembers on the topic. Thomas said he worried that, while the Tolmans' dog may be well-behaved, other pit bulls might not. Kunz agreed.

"You may have a very obedient, well-trained dog, but there may be others who come into town who aren't," Kunz told Tolman.

At its June meeting, the council asked city attorney Clyde Nelson and Preston Police Chief Val Sparrow to investigate the topic and make a recommendation on whether to change the ordinance. Nelson presented their findings Monday, saying he and Sparrow recommended the council remove the specific ban on pit bulls.

Nelson said he and Sparrow researched several other cities' animal ordinances and found no similarly breed-specific ordinances among them. Sparrow said he would support the council in whatever decision it made and enforce whatever law they decided on.

Kunz asked Tolman why he didn't want to build and keep Toby in the "absolutely secure" enclosure as is allowed in the ordinance. Tolman responded that, after six years of Toby living inside the home with the family, it wouldn't be fair the dog to lock him up.

"We have a history with this animal and a responsibility to him as his owner," Tolman said.

The decision to require vicious dogs to be microchipped came at the recommendation of Sparrow. He said there have been incidents in which police have classified a dog as vicious and then been called back to deal with the same dog, only to have the owner lie and say it was a different dog.

Preston will keep pit bull ban, family plans to put down pet - The Herald Journal: News
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