Leader Blues

Monday, July 23, 2007

TOP STORY >>Committee wants ban on pit bulls

Leader staff writer

Cabot City Councilís fire and police committee voted 4-0 Thursday night to send an ordinance to the full council in August that would ban pit bull dogs except for the ones that are registered at the time the ordinance is posted.

Theoretically, an ordinance that has full committee support should also pass the full council. However, Alderman Virgil Teague, who serves on the fire and police committee, has been ill for more than a month and did not attend the Thursday meeting.

The committee also approved sending to the full council a policy and procedure manual for the fire department. The police department has its own manual and Fire Chief Phil Robinson has argued for several months that his department is entitled to the same.

The committee did not support an ordinance proposed by Alderman Ken Williams, the committee chairman, that would have allowed residents in golf-course communities to drive their carts on city streets to get to the course.

Williams said he might bring the proposed ordinance up again because many Greystone residents moved there because of the golf course; state law allows cities to pass such ordinances. Many residents are now driving illegally on the streets and he canít believe the city council actually intends to tell the residents of Greystone that they wonít be extended the same courtesy as residents of golf-course communities in other cities.

Pit Bulls

Over the past two months, the committee has looked at pit bull and dangerous-animal ordinances from several cities, but the one that will go before the full council in August is the one patterned after Lonokeís that City Attorney Jim Taylor gave them in May.

If it passes, pit bulls by every name, pit bull mixes and dogs that look like pit bulls will be banned unless they are registered with the city. Puppies from registered dogs would have to be out of the city within six weeks. Registered dogs would have to be kept indoors or in a locked kennel or pen with an enclosed top attached to the sides and the bottom embedded in the ground. Owners also would have to post a sign warning that a pit bull is on the property.

Although committee members appeared to favor passing the ordinance in May, they were concerned that the ordinance did not contain provisions for accurately identifying the registered dogs. The ordinance required that the owners submit pictures of the registered dogs, but the committee members said pit bulls look the same. Tattoos or electronic chips would be better, they said, but that issue has not been resolved.

Williams said it will likely be taken up by the public works committee which is supposed to revamp the existing animal control ordinance. In addition to Lonoke, Jacksonville, Sherwood and North Little Rock have already passed ordinances curbing their pit bull populations. Beebe and Ward could pass similar ordinances in August.