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TN: Brownsville enforces pit bull ban with amendment


March 20, 2016

April Roark has 60 days to have her dog Marley micro-chipped, spayed, and registered with the Brownsville-Haywood County Animal Shelter, or risk losing her 4-year-old pit bull.

On March 8, the Brownsville City Council passed an amendment to a 2008 law that banned pit bulls within Brownsville's city limits. Shelter director Jerry McClinton said a misinterpretation of the ordinance had allowed pit bulls to still be brought into the city as pets.

"I think there was some misinterpretation of the ordinance when it passed. They were totally banned in 2008," McClinton said. "We'll take a little responsibility for that."

McClinton said the amendment was brought to the city council in an effort to allow owners to keep their pets if they follow new procedures.
April Roark and Marley, a 4-year-old pit bull.

"We're allowing people who own pit bulls a 60-day period to register them with the city," he said. "They also have to be spayed or neutered, registered at the animal shelter, have their photo taken, and be micro-chipped."

McClinton said the animal shelter will keep track of the records to ensure no registered animals are taken from their owners. Pets must also be kept in closed yards.

Roark said she understands the new amendment, though it means Marley now has to be spayed and micro-chipped, and her yard has to be fenced in to keep Marley inside. She is glad she gets to keep her four-legged child.

"We were having a lot of pit bull fights at the time (in 2008), and the ordinance was put into effect then," she said. "I'm all on board with the city's amendment to keep our dogs if we abide by the rules."

Roark said her husband wants to see the ban lifted, though she said she understands the ban is meant for the safety of residents and other animals.

"My husband wants the pit bull ban lifted completely so there's not a breed-specific issue, but it's for people's safety," she said.

With the ban in place and a 60-day registration period, Roark said she now faces the reality of possibly never having another pit bull if something happens to her beloved Marley.

"I've got another 60 days to get another dog. That's the only problem I have with it," she said. "It's just like losing a child, and that's my only problem."

Roark said she plans to have all the requirements completed so she can keep Marley with her two other dogs, and she hopes other pit bull owners will follow suit so they are not faced with the possibility of losing their dogs.

"I tried to get the word out on Facebook," she said. "I don't want any dog taken away from their owners. Our dogs are like our family."

Brownsville enforces pit bull ban with amendment