Over the last two weeks, the internet has been buzzing with several reports out of West Memphis, Arkansas that the city council is considering a ban or some type of regulation of pit bull-type dogs. I spoke with the city clerk this morning, and this was not an item on the most recent city council agenda, and no formal proposal to change the current animal control ordinance has been made…yet.
City Councilman Tracy Catt recently presented a report showing pit bulls were purported to be responsible for 57% of the city’s 28 dog bites last year. Councilman Catt, who is also the Chairman of the Animal Control Commission, advised that the report is the basis behind an upcoming change to the city’s animal control ordinance, and he implied in several interviews that pit bulls would be targeted. It is my understanding that the city attorney has been asked to research various ordinances in order to make a presentation to the council. Despite the various media reports, it is unknown as to whether or not that proposal will target specific breeds of dogs.
Residents of West Memphis, please open the lines of communications with your city officials and talk with them BEFORE any proposal is made. Discuss suggestions and alternatives, including education and strong enforcement of the existing laws, in order to curb irresponsible ownership and penalize reckless owners. You will also want to speak directly with Chairman Catt, as he is the head of the animal control committee, and will be working on any ordinance that is forthcoming.
For residents of West Memphis, this is an excellent opportunity to work with your city officials to update and enhance the current animal control ordinance to create a community that is safer and benefits the health and welfare of all its members – people and animals alike.