White County is only about 20 minutes from me, so this is literally in my backyard. It also brings up terrible memories of a BSL battle in Sparta that was lost a couple summers ago. Not one single person showed up at the city council meeting to oppose the ban other than me – a non-Sparta resident – and we lost. Rather…our DOGS lost.
As soon a I read the article in The Expositor yesterday morning (July 16, 2009), I called Gary Dodson, the attorney for White County. Mr. Dodson said that while he had not seen the article yet, he had advised Sheriff Shoupe at the meeting that his proposal was not legally possible because the county wasn’t zoned properly. In order to pass this county wide ban, the county zoning would have to change, which would entail a huge legal process, and the possibility of that is slim to none.
Sheriff Shoupe is relying on the fact that Sparta has passed a pit bull ban so, in his eyes, White County should be able to. Attorney Dodson advised him that municipalities and counties are governed by different rules, and what applies to the City of Sparta does not apply to White County.
After speaking with Mr. Dodson, I then called County Executive Herd Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan was in total agreement about owners being accountable for their dogs and that dog breed has nothing to do with dangerous dogs. He even went so far as to say if his dogs got loose and caused problems, he would expect to be cited just like anyone else. Mr. Sullivan ask me for assistance with a dog law that applied to ALL dogs, and I have forwarded to him Tullahoma’s law passed a couple years ago which is having great results. I also forwarded him an ordinance I drafted that is very similar to Tullahoma’s, but has a few additional penalties for repeat violators.
Both men were extremely pleasant to talk to, and both indicated no interest in breed specific legislation. Regardless, I will definitely be keeping a close eye on this. Sparta was the first battle in which I experienced a loss, and that scar is still very deep.
In light of my conversations with the county attorney and county executive, however, I am optimistic that this will not get very far.
Nevertheless, I would encourage ALL White County dog owners to contact their county officials to voice their concerns, as well as their opposition to Sheriff Shoupe’s proposal. Ask them whose job it will be to determine if a dog is or is not a “pit bull.” Ask them if they are prepared financially for this ordinance since breed bans are not only expensive to enforce, but also come with the financial risk associated with litigation and legal challenges. (…Or are they going to ask their resident tax payers to foot the bill?)
The White County Commission next meets on August 10. I hope to see MANY people there in united opposition against any breed specific proposal.
Bless the Bullys
County ban on ‘pit bulls’?
Sheriff makes request
Published: Thursday, July 16, 2009 8:47 AM CDT
Incidents ranging from a deputy being bitten in the thigh to other officers being confronted by canines tied up at the entrances of residences belonging to alleged law violators has prompted Sheriff Oddie Shoupe to ask for a ban on ‘pit bull’ dogs in the county.
Shoupe addressed members of Steering Committee B, of White County Board of Commissioners, during a Monday night meeting. Shoupe said the breed of dogs commonly referred to as pit bulls are presenting safety issues not only for his officers, but also for the public.
“Most of these drug dealers are taking these pit bulls and using them to let them know we’re coming, and they have used them against my officers,” said Shoupe. “I think it’s time we started fighting back.”
City of Sparta passed an ordinance in August 2005 banning “pit bulls.” The dogs described include:
•Bull terrier breed of dog, Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog
•American pit bull terrier breed of dog
•American Staffordshire terrier breed of dogs
•Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than above listed which breed or mixed breed is known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers; and
•Any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, and any other breed commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers; or a combination of any of these breeds.
Stringent restrictions apply to individuals who already owned ‘pit bulls’ at the time the ordinance was passed.
Shoupe said some insurance companies have clauses that require a property owner to list specific dogs on his/her policy. If these animals are not listed, then the insurance company is not responsible for injuries caused by these animals. Shoupe said some of these breeds include doberman, pit bull mixes, German shepherd and rottweiller.
Richard Lane made a motion to have Gary Dodson, attorney for White County, to research the legality of the county implementing a ban on ‘pit bull’ breeds. The motion was seconded and will be sent to the full court for approval, contingent on Dodson’s legal findings.
Steering Committee B meets at 5:30 p.m., the second Monday of each month, at White County Courthouse. The next meeting will be Aug. 10, 2009.