At last night’s city council meeting, Councilman Lee Alexius suggested the council consider creating a law to restrict pit bull ownership in the city of Covington, Louisiana. The public safety committee will consider the ordinances of other jurisdictions, and then “fashion a law for Covington’s pit bull owners.” The committee will then present their proposed ordinance to the Council as a whole and hold a public meeting.
The Covington city council considered a “pit bull” ordinance several years ago, but decided against it when they realized, through personal experience, that dog attacks are not limited to one breed of dog, and that breed specific ordinances create a very slippery slope. The council then crafted a comprehensive breed-neutral ordinance with the assistance of animal related professionals.
Please send your polite, respectful and informative opposition to breed specific legislation to the Covington city officials listed below. Please include suggestions and viable alternatives for their consideration, as well as advising them of the many flaws of breed specific ordinances. Encourage the city officials to enforce the law already in place to ensure the safety and welfare of everyone in the community – humans and animals. E-mail contact information is not available for individual council members, but may be sent via the Council Clerk, Bonnie Champagne.
The Covington City Council meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of every month at 6 p.m. at the Council Chambers located at 222 Kirkland Street, Covington, LA. The agenda for each meeting is available on the website by 2 p.m. on the Friday preceding the council meeting. The next council meeting is May 15, 2012.
Covington, LA city officials
Michael B. Cooper
Mayor – City of Covington
Covington council to consider tougher pit bull restrictions
Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 3:58 PM
Three days after an 8-year-old Covington girl was mauled by a pit bull, another such dog edged up alongside the Covington Elementary School campus. Teachers hurried the kids inside, police were called but the pit bull’s owner collected their dog before it made its way onto school grounds. A week later, 20 miles away in Hammond, another pit bull attacked another 8-year-old girl, leaving the child hospitalized for days.
“With all this going on, this is something we need to address as a city,” said Covington City Councilman Lee Alexius.
On Tuesday night, Alexius suggested the City Council consider creating a law to restrict pit bull ownership. Other Louisiana cities, he said, have strict requirements for pit bull owners: from mandating the size of kennels to requiring owners to carry hefty insurance policies and have their pit bulls registered and microchipped.
The small town of Washington in St. Landry Parish, he noted, recently rounded up 17 pit bulls whose owners were in violation of a new town law that includes requiring 6-by-6 foot covered enclosures and a $100,000 insurance policy.
The owners were given 30 days to comply, their police chief told the local newspaper.
“No one has complied with the ordinance,” Chief Ronelle Broussard told the Daily World. “No one has made any attempt to comply with the ordinance.”
Pit bull owners told the paper that an insurance policy is impossible to find.
They, and other animal activists, argue that all pit bulls have a bad reputation based on the few vicious ones made that way by irresponsible owners.
“They get a lot of bad press,” said Vicky Kreeger, director of the St. Tammany Parish Humane Society. “They can make great pets; it’s all about how they’re brought up.”
Even mean pit bulls, the ones trained by their owners to fight, she said, can be rehabilitated if they find a loving home.
Kreeger said she is not sure if she would oppose stricter regulations, because they might just mandate responsible dog ownership like microchipping and registration with the city or parish.
But animal activists and veterinarians have long opposed laws singling out pit bulls as vicious creatures.
More than a decade ago, the parish council was, as Covington is now, prompted by a series of pit bull attacks to try to place strict restrictions specifically on pit bull owners, according to news articles. Proponents of the law argued it was a proactive approach to preventing future attacks.
But it prompted a months-long debate, with animal lovers declaring breed-specific laws unconstitutional and discriminatory.
Amid the debate, an Abita Springs man was bitten and chased up a tree by his own dog — not a pit bull, but a Doberman pinscher, which would not have been regulated by the very law under discussion. It prompted one parish councilman to declare: “Seeing what I saw in the paper this morning, next week we’ll be having a meeting to ban Dobermans.”
The irony, as one newspaper report noted, was not lost on the parish council. It scrapped the breed-specific ordinance in favor of forming a committee of animal professionals to create a law dealing with vicious dogs — all vicious dogs, not just those of pit bull breeding.
Now, the Covington Council’s public safety committee, including Councilmen Sam O’Keefe, Jerry Coner and Larry Rolling, will consider other jurisdictions’ ordinances, then fashion a law for Covington’s pit bull owners. The committee will present its decision to the Council, hold a public meeting, then vote on its passage.
Alexius said Tuesday that he expects a certain amount of public resistance, particularly from pit bull owners.