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MS-Ridgeland Discusses Banning Pit Bulls & Rottweilers, etc
Pit bull discussion ensues at Ridgeland aldermen's meeting
By Leah Square
Ridgeland city leaders are expected to discuss a controversial proposal tonight that may call for the banning of certain dog breeds from the city.
Mayor Gene McGee said Monday that the Board of Aldermen and the city's attorneys will review the proposal in a closed session tonight following the board's regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Ridgeland City Hall.
The city first presented a proposed amendment to the animal control ordinance in September that called for the banning of pit bulls, Rottweilers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and their offspring in Ridgeland. Public reaction was heated and emotional, prompting the board to delay the vote to gather more information about the practicality and legality of breed specific legislation.
"This is an ordinance that has a very high potential of litigation," said Ridgeland City Attorney Jerry Mills, explaining the plans for a closed session.
A vote on any proposal is, however, unlikely tonight, McGee said.
Last month city leaders said they would have the final draft of the proposal ready for a vote this week, but it wasn't complete in time.
Even so, more than a dozen Ridgeland residents showed up to the board's work session Monday, anxious to comment on the proposed breed ban.
The mayor allowed them to speak and submit any letters, statistics or other materials for consideration.
Two people spoke in favor of a ban, but the comments from others that spoke out were overwhelmingly negative. One neighborhood $#@!ociation submitted a letter, which McGee read aloud, in support of a breed ban in Ridgeland.
Among those against a ban was Gloria Grantham, who along with her husband has been involved in a months-long battle with their next-door-neighbor over the couple's pit bulls and Rottweiler.
"I've owned my Rottweiler six years, and he has not gotten out one time," Grantham said. "It's how you raise a dog."
Several residents offered approving nods.
Ridgeland dog trainer and pediatric nurse Rebecca Bailey also spoke against banning specific breeds.
"When dogs are bred correctly, you're not going to have any problems out of these breeds," Bailey said. "I don't recommend the ban."
But Bailey also said she has witnessed firsthand during her nursing shifts the injuries that can result from dog attacks. She added that those injuries were caused by unsocialized, untrained dogs.
Another Ridgeland nurse said she has seen children that have been mauled severely by vicious dogs and supported a ban on certain breeds in Ridgeland.
Mike Smith of the Dinsmor Homeowners $#@!ociation said he also supports a breed specific ban.
"I know I'm going to make some people mad," Smith said before segueing into a prepared presentation that included a wealth of statistics on dog attacks. He had cited research by Animal People, an animal protection newspaper, and other like sources to bolster his argument that certain dog breeds are more apt to attack than others.
According to Animal People, pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids have been responsible for 931 maulings and nearly 200 deaths in the United States and Canada between 1982 and 2007. Those breeds account for more than 70 percent of all dogs attacks resulting in death and 77 percent of all attacks resulting in maiming.
"The numbers are the numbers," Smith said. "You have a bad day with one of these three breeds, somebody is maimed or somebody is killed. There are no second chances."
Talk of a breed specific ban in Ridgeland comes after months of feuding between the Granthams of 615 Ralde Circle and their neighbor April Scott.
Scott, a single mother of two young girls, describes the Granthams' two pit bulls and Rottweiler as a aggressive and dangerous.
The Granthams at one time kept two other pit bulls and a Jack Russell terrier in addition to the three they have now.
The city in May had granted the couple a special permit to keep six dogs despite a city ordinance allowing no more than three.
The board recently revoked that permit amid the neighbors' heated feud.
Not fully satisfied with the revocation alone, Scott took the Granthams to court and asked for the removal of the remaining "dangerous dogs."
A Ridgeland Municipal Court judge ruled last month the pets aren't dangerous and ordered the neighbors to cease all contact.
The Granthams are currently in the process of building an 8-foot privacy fence to shield their dogs.
Leaders are mum about pit bull ban
By Leah Square
leah.square@ mcherald. com
Ridgeland city legal officials are mum on whether a working final draft of a controversial proposal includes a ban on pit bulls and other so-called dangerous dogs from the city as did an initial draft.
"I'm not going to say a word," said James Gabriel, a city attorney. "I haven't gotten anything that is something they (the mayor and Board of Aldermen) want out yet."
The city's attorneys, police chief and top officials have been collaborating on the final draft, which could be ready for public review by early February. A public hearing likely will be held in March, city officials said.
The city first presented a proposed amendment to its animal control ordinance regarding dog breeds in September. The proposal called for the banning of pit bulls, Rottweilers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and their offspring from Ridgeland.
When the proposal became public, city residents were emotional, outspoken and seemingly divided about the possibility of a breed-specific ban. Many showed up to board meetings to express their concerns.
This prompted the board to delay voting to gather additional information, explore potential litigation issues and work on a possible revision.
"It (a final proposal) is supposed to be ready for the first meeting in February," said Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee.
The city, McGee said, expects to set a public hearing on the matter at that Board of Aldermen meeting, scheduled for Feb. 3. The hearing likely will be held the first meeting in March, he said.
Both Richland and Clinton do not allow pit bulls. Clinton also has banned Rottweilers.
Rankin County officials also are tightening controls on pit bulls in the county.
Reservoir-area Supervisor Wood Brown said pit bulls must be registered with Rankin County's animal control office and have to meet requirements when it comes to where they can be housed.
Talk of strengthening Ridgeland's animal control ordinance comes on the heels of a Rottweiler attacking a Ridgeland police officer last summer and months of heated feuding between couple Pete and Gloria Grantham of Ralde Circle and their next-door-neighbor.
The neighbor, April Scott, describes the Granthams' two pit bulls and Rottweiler as dangerous, although a Ridgeland Municipal Court judge has ruled the dogs do not appear to be a threat.
Even so, the Granthams were forced to remove two of their four pit bulls and their Jack Russell terrier when the city in September revoked a special permit they had granted the couple that allowed them to keep six dogs despite a city ordinance limiting households to three.
Rankin Ledger Staff Writer Justin Fritscher contributed to this report.
http://www.mcherald .com/apps/ pbcs.dll/ article?AID= /20090120/ NEWS/901200311/ 1001
A public hearing on this issue is scheduled for March 17, 2009. Please continue writing to the Ridgeland city officials. ~ Jodi
Ridgeland to hold public meeting on pit bulls March 17
By Leah Square
leah.square@ mcherald. com
Ridgeland city leaders are expected to vote next month on a controversial proposal that calls for the banning of pit bulls and other “dangerous” dog breeds from the city but allows banned dogs currently existing in the city to remain if certain requirements are met.
City officials have been tweaking the proposal for months and this week presented a final draft that likely will be discussed in a public hearing and voted on March 17. The hearing is expected to be crowded as many residents have vocalized impassioned disdain for a breed specific ban while other residents have passionately supported such a ban during recent Board of Aldermen meetings.
The city’s proposed amendment to the animal control ordinance calls for the banning of pit bulls, Rottweilers, wolf-dog hybrids, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, the offspring of any banned breed and any dog declared “dangerous” or “vicious” as defined by the ordinance.
The proposal also includes a grandfather clause that allows up to three banned dogs per household currently residing in the city to remain as long as the dogs are not deemed dangerous or vicious and the owner, within 60 days from the effective date of the amendment, meets certain registration, training and enclosure requirements.
Any dog owner caught harboring a banned dog could be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned up to 90 days or both, the proposal says.
Mayor Gene McGee said the proposal does not punish responsible dog owners but instead takes dogs out of the hands of people who are attracted to certain breeds for malign reasons.
“We don’t want people to be irresponsible with their animals. There’s some language in there that protects those individuals that are responsible,” McGee said.
So-called dangerous dogs have been banned in other parts of the metro area.
Clinton does not allow pit bulls nor Rottweilers. Pit bulls also are prohibited in Richland.
Rankin County officials are tightening controls on pit bulls in the county by requiring registration with Rankin County’s animal control office and limiting where the dogs can be housed.
Ridgeland city leaders had anticipated a public hearing on the proposal would be held March 3, but aldermen agreed this week to set the hearing for March 17 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall because of a scheduling conflict with Ridgeland High’s annual draw down fund raiser event. McGee and several city officials plan to attend the March 3 fund raiser.
http://www.mcherald .com/apps/ pbcs.dll/ article?AID= /20090204/ NEWS/90204003
New ordinance to ban pit bulls, existing dogs grandfathered
By LACEY MCLAUGHLIN
RIDGELAND - Under a proposed animal control ordinance, current pit bull owners would be allowed to keep their dogs as long as they are registered, but new ones would be banned from the city.
Residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed ordinance at a public hearing set for March 17.
The issue has been discussed and debated by city officials for several months now following an altercation between two neighbors.
During the Mayor and Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, City Attorney James Gabriel resubmitted a proposed amendment to the animal control ordinance that would effectively ban American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Wolf-dog hybrids.
The new proposal includes a grandfather clause that would allow residents to keep up to three banned breeds that are currently present in the city.
However, from the date the ordinance is set, owners will have 60 days to register the banned breeds.
Also included in the amended ordinance is a stipulation that any dog deemed "dangerous" will be required to present proof to an animal control officer that a safe and secure enclosure is provided for the animal and be subject to routine inspections.
Requirements also call for the owner and dog to register for a training course and complete the course within six months of registration to keep the dog.
Mayor Gene F. McGee said he thought the revised ordinance provided guidelines that protect responsible dog owners.
"Hopefully they can accept the ordinance that the city has put together," he said. "The grandfather clause provides language for responsible dog owners."
Under penalties stipulated in the ordinance failure to comply would result in up to a $1,000 fine or jail time.
Alderman-at- Large Gerald Steen said he is a firm believer that there is enough evidence to show that Pit Bulls are dangerous breeds and supports the ban, but said he would keep an open mind during the public hearing.
"I am open minded to listen even though I haven't been swayed yet," he said. "I would like to get all the facts because this is a sensitive issue."
An amendment to the current animal ordinance was proposed during a board meeting last October and was delayed after several citizens attended the meeting to voice their concerns.
Citizens voiced their concerns again during a meeting last November. The board agreed to explore different options and gather more information about the legality of a breed-specific ban.
The proposed ban is the result of a dispute between two neighbors on Ralde Circle in which one neighbor considered the other's dogs to be a threat.
Gloria Grantham of Ralde Circle was the owner of four pit bulls and a Rottweiler when her neighbor, April Scott told the board in September that the Grantham dogs were dangerous.
In May the city granted the Granthams a special permit to keep six dogs, despite a city ordinance allowing no more than three. Later the board revoked that permit due to the Scott's complaints.
http://www.onlinema dison.com/ main.asp? SectionID= 1&SubSectionID= 1&ArticleID=21079&TM=18302.47
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