TRUMANN, AR (KAIT) – Trumann Mayor Sheila Walters told Region 8 News Wednesday that she supported a measure approved by the city council Tuesday night.
Members of the council voted in favor of an ordinance to amend Ordinance #499 regarding vicious or dangerous animals. Among the changes in the ordinance include the banning of specific breeds.
"We had a vicious dog ordinance for several years, however, we didn't feel like it was strong enough," said Walters.
According to language in the ordinance, all American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and other specific breeds will be banned from the city limits. Other animal limitations include animal fighting or attack training.
Under Section D of the ordinance, all owners of banned dogs have 60 days to remove the animal from the city limits. If the animal is not taken out of the city within the time frame, the ordinance gives the Trumann Animal Control officer authority to take the animal into custody. After 11 days of impoundment, the city will be allowed to euthanize the dog similar as a stray.
Section I of the ordinance permits owners to "grandfather" their pit bull pets into the city if they register the animal with the Trumann Animal Control Office within 60 days.
Under Section I, owners must provide proof of rabies vaccination, proof the animal has been neutered, pay a $100 licensing fee and provide proof of liability insurance on the animal in the amount of more than $100,000.
"We did some research into what we call a pit bull ordinance, which is a vicious dog ordinance. It does talk about the specific breed of animal," said Walters. "We have had several children and adults attacked by pit bulls over the last few years. We felt like we needed more control over the handlers, the owners of the dog."
Walters provided Region 8 News a list of complaints against pit bull dogs over the last two years. According to the documentation, most attacks involved a pit bull and child, although some adults were reported bitten.
"We've had a lot of gas company employees, postal employees, just citizens out and about town that have called repeatedly about dogs being at large," said Walters. "The pit bulls have been a problem. They have attacked some of the postal workers. I have one council member who was attacked as a child by a pit bull."
Walters said residents who want to register their pit bull can do so at city hall.
"We will take a photo. That dog should be chained and should be muzzled during the photo. That way we can keep a history of those who wish to keep their animal in town. As long as they abide by the law, we have no problem with those being grandfathered in," said Walters.
Walters said after the measure was approved, she received numerous calls from residents upset with the ordinance.
"We don't want to hurt anybody. We don't want to hurt an animal, but we have to have people be responsible for their pets," said Walters. "I'm sure if you own a pit bull, you'll consider it unfair. If you have been bitten by one, I'm sure that you'll consider that you wouldn't want any in town."
Walters said the ordinance was heavily based on a similar ordinance the city of Maumelle has in central Arkansas. As a comparison, the first few sections are taken straight from Maumelle. Walters said the city attorney has cleared the ordinance.
The ordinance also discusses how dogs should be kept. According to the document, all pit bulls should be kept in a kennel unless it is secured with a leash no longer than six feet. The dog should also only be on a leash if a human being is in control. The leash may not be attached to an inanimate object. Furthermore, the animal should not be allowed in an area where it can get out of the house and onto public property on its own.
Walters said residents have not abided by other vicious dog ordinances.
"People are letting these dogs run at large, and we're worried about the safety of our children," said Walters. "That child was severely injured and then the neighbor trying to get the dog off of the child, it ran through their screen door and got them."
The city of Maumelle, according to www.theanimalcouncil.com, won a lawsuit in 1991. In Holt v City of Maumelle, the Arkansas State Supreme Court said it was not unreasonable for a city to ban specific breeds of animals. The court said it was no unconstitutional to ban specific breeds from city limits.