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Sent: Friday, July 21, 2006 12:36 AM
Subject: [arc-liaisons] Mongomery, AL may discuss BSL July 31st.

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?
AID=/20060720/NEWS/60720011

Mailing Address
Post Office Box 1111
Montgomery, Alabama 36101-1111

Phone: (334) 241-2000
Fax: (334) 241-2600
E-mail: [email protected]

Receptionist/Proclamations Clerk
Belinda Forte'
(334) 241-2000
[email protected]

Executive Secretary to the Mayor
Katie Cord
(334) 241-2004
[email protected]

Executive Assistant to the Mayor
Jeff Downes
(334) 241-2002
[email protected]

Executive Assistant to the Mayor
Michael Briddell
(334) 241-2005
[email protected]
Wanda Fox, Executive Secretary

Assistant to the Mayor
Felecia Holley-Martin
(334) 241-2427
[email protected]
Assistant to the Mayor
Willie Peak

Council debates vicious dog ordinance

By Sebastian Kitchen
Montgomery Advertiser
[email protected]

City Council members want to give due process to dogs and their
owners, but protect citizens in a city some feel has become caged by fears
of pit bull attacks.

Council members met this morning to discuss vicious animals and ways
to address the issue through city codes and enforcement. The meeting of the
Public Safety Standing Committee was prompted by recent pit bull attacks on
two children and a police officer.

Diane Sherman, who lives in Forest Hills, said her dog was attacked in
her front yard recently by a neighbor's dog while her 14-year-old son was
walking the animal. She said it took three adults and her son spraying the
dog with a water hose to separate the animals.

"I feel very fortunate my son was not injured at the time," Sherman
said. "I'm very concerned about the safety of children in our neighborhood."

Sherman said the process of filing a vicious animal affidavit took her
four hours.

"I think that's part of the reason you don't have more people signing
affidavits," she said. "I almost got up and walked away."

Sherman said her family is also stuck with a $700 veterinarian bill.

Steven Tears, director of the Montgomery Humane Society, said pit
bulls are not the most vicious or most powerful dogs. He said Rottweilers
are more powerful.

"That is not the most vicious dog out there. It's just the most
popular," he said. "You are more likely to get bit by a Chihuahua than a pit
bull."

Tears encouraged the council to take action to stop backyard breeders,
which are not held accountable, and encourage people to spay and neuter
their pets. He said they often find out about backyard breeding or dog
fighting after a drug bust. People rarely call in to complain about their
neighbor's dogs, Tears said.

Tears also suggested a breeder's license.

Ryan Zienert, who shows dogs, and his mother, Carol, are against an
ordinance that would ban specific breeds such as pit bulls, Rottweilers and
Doberman Pinschers. They want to see laws dealing with behavior and with the
actions of owners.

Ryan said he is more likely to be bitten by the small dogs than large
breeds.

While the smaller dogs might be more likely to bite, resident K.T.
Brown said people in her neighborhood are not worried about those.

"What is $75, $25 (fines) if a dog has attacked my grandchildren," she
said. "We're talking about a dog that can attack you and it be fatal."

Brown said she does not want to see specific breeds banned, but wants
the enforcement power increased.

Councilman Glen Pruitt said he was in court twice in the last month
because of pit bull attacks. He said one woman's dog was killed and another's
pet was maimed in an attack.

Councilmen Willie Cook and Jim Spear are opposed to laws banning
specific breeds. Other council members including C.C. Calhoun and Pruitt are
not so certain.

"We've got a real complicated issue here and there's no easy
solution," Spear said.

C.T. Tolliver, who has worked as a city animal control officer for 22
years, said people receive a written warning for their first violation of
the leash law and a citation is issued for the second offense, which leads
to an automatic court appearance, where a judge sets the fine.

If a person or animal is attacked, they are advised they can fill out
a vicious animal affidavit, Tolliver said. The affidavit prompts an
investigation by animal control officers, who submit their findings to a
municipal court judge. The judge ultimately determines the punishment and
the fate of the dog.

Tolliver said she has seen fines from $10 to $500. Several people
noted a $10 fine is not much of a deterrent.

She said she would like to see a set fine for violations after the
initial warning. Also, the fines are for occurrences within a year. Tolliver
wants to see the time lengthened to at least two years because owners
currently have a clean slate after a year.

She said many of the violators are repeat offenders.

Tolliver said many breeds can be vicious.

"We have all types of vicious dogs literally from a Chihuahua to a
Great Dane," she said.

Calhoun said the problems his constituents are complaining about do
not originate from Chihuahuas. He said they fear pit bulls.

"The public is crying out about pit bulls," Calhoun said.

Several people said if pit bulls are banned, drug dealers and other
thugs will begin to purchase and train another potentially vicious breed.

"Pit bulls seem to be a dog of choice so we respond right now to more
pit bull attacks," Tolliver said.

Sherman and Brown said some complainants are deterred because of how
much a victim has to go through to get action.

Cook has ordinances from other cities. They will examine those and
determine what changes need to be made to the city code.

The committee planned a meeting at 9 a.m. July 31 for a work session
and public hearing on the issue of vicious dogs. Council members asked the
city's animal control officers and the director of the Montgomery Humane
Society to bring written suggestions.

Citizens can also offer written suggestions.

Ron VanHerwyn, the county humane officer, suggested the possibility of
limiting the number of dogs a person can own in the city limits, which
happens in other cities.

VanHerwyn said pit bull is not a breed so the city would be targeting
other animals because the public believed other dogs looked like pit bulls.

"The issue is not pit bulls," VanHerwyn said. "The issue is we allow
people to do what they want with their dogs."

Tears defined a vicious dog as one that will attack without
hesitation. He said dogs standing on a property barking are defending their
territory.

Tears said also the humane officers do not have the authority to issue
citations and said the power would help with enforcement.

bsl workshop
 
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