Albany, GA: Second reading of pit bull ordinance 2/25/14

Support for a proposed ordinance targeting “pit bulls” may be slipping.  City commissioners initially approved the ordinance in January, and while that first vote was set to be the only vote, because it failed to garner unanimous support as expected, it was forced to a second vote.  During the time between the two votes, however, two new commissioners have taken office, and these newly elected officials do not support the proposal.

The ordinance drafted by the city attorney would require pit bull owners to get a $100,000 liability insurance policy, and fully enclosed dog pens no less than 25 feet from property lines.

The ordinance is being criticized by some elected officials and the public for placing an undue burden and financial strain on citizens, and all are calling for the proposal to be scrapped for additional research on a proposal that would find middle ground.

Over the last two weeks, members of the community have attended commissioner work sessions to present the case against implementing a breed specific ordinance.  No one has addressed the city in support of the proposal.

Thanks to the educational and informative letters YOU sent to city officials regarding the problems associated with breed specific laws, the commissioners have changed their stance on just who is responsible for establishing a dog’s breed and the cost associated with the DNA testing for the same. Initially, the city attorney wrongly advised the commission that dog owners would have to prove their dog was not a “pit bull” when, in fact, the burden of breed identification falls on the city, a concept they now seem to understand.

The mayor states that protecting the safety of the public is the most important thing. If that’s the case, she, and anyone who supports breed specific legislation, need to understand that singling out specific breeds of dogs does not result in safer communities. In fact, these laws actually lull citizens into a false sense of security because all the while, the truly dangerous dogs, and their irresponsible owners, have not been addressed, and remain in the community unhindered — not because their dogs are good canine citizens, but simply because their dogs don’t meet the physical characteristics of those that fall under the breed/appearance-based law.

It is impossible to determine if a dog does or does not pose a threat to the public based solely on his or her appearance, but a dog that acts dangerously in public, and dog owners who allow these instances to happen, are very obvious and easy to regulate.

The city of Albany already has a provision in their municipal code that addresses ALL dogs deemed dangerous based on their behavior, establishes requirements for the keeping of those dogs, and penalties for owners who are found in violation of the law.  The solution is to STRICTLY ENFORCE the law that is already on the books. Fine dog owners when they allow their dogs to cause problems in the community, and continue to fine them, on a tier-based fine schedule (i.e., the fine increases with every infraction). Problem dog owners generally have little respect for the responsibility due to their dogs or their neighbors, but faced with increasing penalties that affect their wallet, they strangely become a little more respectful of the law.

The second reading of the proposed ordinance is on the city commissioners meeting agenda for Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 6:30 in Room 100 at the Government Center Building located at 222 Pine Street.

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.

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,bcoleman@albany.ga.us, bfletcher@albany.ga.us,rmarietta@albany.ga.us,bob@langstafflaw.com, tpostell@albany.ga.us

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