Albany, GA: First reading of pit bull ordinance passed

The mayor of Albany, Georgia was hopeful the city commission would approve a much debated pit bull ordinance which could have become law on Monday, January 13, 2014, but she didn’t get the unanimous consent she was hoping for.

As reported in our earlier post (and as was confirmed by the city clerk), Monday’s reading was to be the only vote on this issue, and had the vote been unanimous, it would have been.

As it turned out, however, Commissioner Roger Marietta voted against the ordinance.  Marietta felt the ordinance, as written, is unfair to the “average” pit bull owner as it would require a huge expenditure for them.

Commissioner Marietta says the current proposal, which passed its first reading on Monday, January 13, would require pit bull owners to have a six-foot fence, a pen that has a roof and a top, and is not situated within 25 feet of the back property line.  The proposal would also require pit bull owners to have $100,000 liability insurance.

Unfortunately, Commissioner Marietta’s alternative does not include removing the breed specific language from the ordinance.  Instead, he feels a five-foot fence and a liability insurance policy in the amount of $50,000 would be adequate.

It appears that Mayor Hubbard’s support for the ordinance is based, at least in part, on disturbing pictures of individuals who were allegedly attacked by pit bulls.  Since no incidents had occurred in Albany when a Citizens Advisory Committee was created in May 2013 to research a potential pit bull ordinance, we can only assume the pictures were provided to the council by an outside source.

As noted in previous posts, the commission was provided with a “study” compiled by Animal People, an organization that aggressively advocates the regulation of “pit bulls” based on unreliable “data” retrieved solely from news media stories.  It is not unreasonable to assume that pictures of alleged victims of “pit bull” attacks were also provided with that study, very likely with nothing to support the breed of dog responsible for the injuries in the pictures other than the word of the individuals providing that information.

Finally, in an article published in The Albany Herald on January 11, the Albany city attorney, Nathan Davis, who assisted in drafting the ordinance,  advised that in cases in which an owner challenges the city’s designation of their dog as a “pit bull,” then the dog owners can pay for DNA testing to establish the dog’s breed.

Mr. Davis is wrong.  It is the city’s burden to establish whether a dog is or is not a “pit bull” and, therefore, subject to the provisions of the ordinance.  This means that the city of Albany (i.e., Albany’s tax paying residents) would be responsible for the cost of the DNA test, NOT the dog owner.

The city commission will likely revisit the ordinance at their next meeting in February.

With that in mind, please send your polite, respectful and informative opposition to breed specific legislation to the Albany city officials listed below. Please encourage the city officials to strengthen and aggressively enforce the city’s current dangerous dog ordinance and hold ALL dog owners accountable for the actions and behaviors of their pets, as well as implement and provide educational resources for responsible ownership to residents.

Talking points and alternatives to breed specific legislation can be found here.

Contact Information for Albany, Georgia city officials:

City Manager James Taylor
222 Pine Avenue
Suite 560
Albany, GA 31702-0447
jtaylor@albany.ga.us
Ph. 1-229-431-3234
Fax 1-229-431-3223

Block copy and paste e-mail for the Mayor and City Commissioners:
dhubbard@albany.ga.us,jhoward@albany.ga.us,ihines@albany.ga.us, cpike@albany.ga.us,rmarietta@albany.ga.us,bob@langstafflaw.com, tpostell@albany.ga.us

Previous alert for Albany, Georgia:

https://blessthebullys.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/albany-ga-to-vote-on-pit-bull-ordinance-11314/

https://blessthebullys.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/albany-ga-one-step-closer-to-passing-a-pit-bull-ordinance/ 

https://blessthebullys.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/albany-ga-advisory-committee-to-discuss-pit-bull-ordinance/ 

https://blessthebullys.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/albany-ga-committee-reviewing-possible-breed-specific-ordinance/ 

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