Last month, the city of Etowah, Tennessee passed the first reading of an ordinance that would regulate the ownership of pit bulls in the city limits. At the time, the mayor stated he’d received nothing but positive response to the proposal. That is very likely true since, typically, the only people aware of an initial proposal are those who have brought it up and, therefore, support it. Once the news spread, however, the city seemed unprepared to handle the volume of opposition received, and the passing of time seems to only compound the problem.
Last week, Mayor Bull made the decision that only four people – two opposed to breed specific legislation and two that support it – would be permitted to address the commissioners, each person getting three minutes. While disappointed, advocates began thinking about who the two representatives would be. Today we got the news that that the two representatives are required to live in Etowah. No one else will be granted permission to address the commissioners.
In addition, when I called the clerk’s office this afternoon, I was told that the mayor had instructed her to discard any and all correspondence and materials that were submitted regarding the pit bull ordinance. Quickly backtracking, and rightfully so as a body of elected officials has a duty to hear their constituents, I received an e-mail stating the city would accept correspondence from residents of Etowah, but all others would not be submitted to or reviewed by the commissioners or the mayor.
As the city commissioners meeting draws near, dog owners are growing frustrated with the city’s response to their concerns. We’re not gearing up for battle, we’re attempting to work out a solution that is beneficial to the health and welfare of all members of the community. Unfortunately, its impossible to negotiate a solution or come to common ground when only one side is participating.
Its unfortunate, yes, but its far from over.
While certainly a frustrating situation, we cannot be discouraged. Truth is on our side. We are armed with the facts and statistics about a flawed law that has proven to be ineffective in every community its implemented. We must maintain our demeanor, even if the city wants to play by their own rules. We will go in with our heads held high, we will maintain our composure, and we will give it our all for our dogs.
The Etowah city commissioners meeting is Monday, October 22. If at all possible, please stand with us and show your support for those who will be speaking on behalf of our dogs.
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