Leader Blues

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

TOP STORY >>Keep out pit bulls, sex shops

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Cabot’s elected officials look at their crowded streets and the need for more firefighters and a fourth fire station, but while those topics consumed much of a meeting of the fire and police committee Thursday night and dominated the conversation on the sidewalk afterwards, the proactive ordinances that came before the body for consideration were about pit bulls and sex shops.

In the near future, the committee could likely recommend ordinances to the full council that would keep pit bulls out of the city and make it difficult for sexually oriented businesses to move in.

“We need to be ahead of the game in case one of these businesses decides to come to Cabot,” Jackie Davis, Cabot police chief, said of the sex businesses of every imaginable kind the proposed ordinance would regulate.

The proposed pit bull ordinance is necessary, said city attorney Jim Taylor, because North Little Rock, Sherwood, Jacksonville and Lonoke have already banned the dogs, which means their owners are likely moving toward Cabot.

The pit bull ordinance would require registration of pit bulls already in the city and make it illegal to bring more in.
If walking outside, the dogs would have to be restrained with leashes no longer than four feet long. They could not be chained to trees, for example, and they could not be outside unattended.

Puppies born inside the city to grandfathered females would have to be out of the city by the time they are six-weeks-old.
The police chief told the committee that no one has been seriously injured yet by a pit bull, but he said they are frequently tied at the front door of drug houses and it is only a matter of time before someone is hurt.

The proposed ordinance regulating sexually-oriented businesses is 20 pages long. In addition to graphic descriptions and definitions, it is filled with stringent rules for licensing and would require licensed businesses to submit to periodic inspections by the police chief to ensure the businesses are in compliance with their licenses.

The draft ordinances also contains several blank spaces for such information as how much the licenses would cost, the allowed size of plain signs to advertise the businesses and how far the businesses are to be located from schools and churches. Both ordinances will be discussed further during the June meeting of the fire and police committee. As drafted, the pit bull ordinance would require owners of grandfathered animals to submit photographs with the registration request.

But Alderman Ed Long said all the dogs look alike and it would be easy for owners to pass off an illegal new dog as one that was grandfathered. Long suggested that the city should number the dogs as they are registered and require the owners to have the numbers tattooed on their ears. Alderman Becky Lemaster suggested implanted electronic chips to identify legal pit bulls.

These dogs are defined as pit bulls in the proposed ordinance: bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bulls, American Staffordshire terriers, mixed breed dogs known as pit bulls and dogs which have the appearance and characteristics of pit bulls. The sexually-oriented business ordinance was tabled because committee members did not receive it until Thursday and few had read it.