Garland County, AR to form committee to look at vicious dog ordinance

The Garland County Quorum Court’s Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee met before an overflowing crowd Monday night to hear testimony about the causes and solutions to the county’s vicious dog problems. Most of those testifying urged the county to prosecute irresponsible pet owners but not ban pit bulls or any specific breed from the county.

No decision was made last night. The meeting was only a forum to garner community opinion. County officials will now form a community subcommittee to address this issue and make recommendations to county leaders.

Please continue to reach out to the Garland County officials with your opposition to breed specific legislation, as well as viable alternatives and suggestions for their consideration. In reaching out to any public official on this issue, keep in mind that you are representing pit bull owners as a whole. I cannot stress the importance of maintaining professional and respectful communications with officials at all times. Despite the blanket stereotyping being applied to pit bulls and pit bull owners by some council members, please keep your composure. We are armed with the facts and expert opinions, and because of this, we do not have to stoop to name calling and veiled insinuations. We are better than that, and our dogs deserve the best representation possible from us.

Contact information for the Garland County officials can be found at this link:

Garland County Hosts Public Meeting on “Vicious and Dangerous Dogs”
By: Marci Manley, KARK 4 News
Updated: September 17, 2012

* * *

The Garland County courtroom, packed with people and opinions Monday night.

“We are not voting tonight to ban pit bulls from the county. Let me be clear,” said Justice of the Peace Mary Bournival.

The public meeting was held to discuss “vicious and dangerous dogs,” according to the agenda, and what additional regulations are needed.

“As you know, we’ve had several pit bull attacks in the county,” Bournival said. “What we have now in the county obviously falls short of protecting the people. So no, it does not go far enough.”

Bournival put gruesome pictures of disfiguration on display during the meeting. “These photos are disturbing,” she told the standing room only crowd. “If you don’t want to see them, I suggest you turn away. These are not strangers from across America. These are our neighbors, friends, our family members.”

Bournival, adding during her opening statement that some dogs like pit bulls are simply more aggressive and should be recognized as such.

“People who own these dogs are not getting these dogs for having a sweet and gentle nature,” she said, to which a round of yells were issued from the audience.

Bournival, despite her perspective on aggressive breeds, said everyone should be heard in the discussion, including pit bull owners and those on the bandwagon for a ban.

“We need to take all of those into consideration to make a reasonable, enforceable ordinance,” she said. “I will tell you none of the justices are fans of breed-specific regulations. But we can’t take that off the table. If it comes down to that as being necessary, that would be something we would discuss in the future.”

Mayes is hoping all sides will be heard in the debate, and that education and moderation will play a role.

“I think it comes down to leash laws, and fencing laws. I think it’s about education and responsible pet ownership. I think more penalties for those that abuse animals could help. Because again, any dog is capable of biting and attacking, but the ones that do, I think are the ones that have been mistreated.

“I absolutely believe every voice matters,” she added. “And I hope that’s the case here in Garland County.”

The comments from the public will be considered by a committee of law enforcement, veterinarians, and justices of the peace to present to the quorum court for a vote at a later date.


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