Thursday, April 19, 2007
Supervisors vote to remove pit bulls
By SUE WATSON
A homeowner complaint concerning threatening dogs not kept under covered pens drew fire from supervisors at Monday’s board meeting.
Supervisors passed a motion to have the dogs picked up a month or more ago, according to Supervisor George Zinn III. He said he wants immediate action to give the sheriff authority to pick up about 11 pit bulls the homeowner said constantly growled, barked and lunged whenever anyone comes out of the house.
Sheriff Dickerson, who sent a deputy to accompany zoning director Conway Moore to investigate, told supervisors he had to have an order from a judge before picking up any dogs.
“We have to follow the law,” Dickerson said.
A hearing is set for April 24 in court on the matter, Moore said.
“I was under the impression we would have gotten a judge order to pick them up and set a court date,” Zinn said. “Are you saying the dogs pose a definite threat or danger to you?”
The homeowner said one was tied but does get loose at times.
“He (the pet owner) went around my neighborhood telling everybody to keep their kids up and one tied dog killed another,” the homeowner said.
Supervisor Keith Taylor said the owner of the dogs is known to be operating a kennel without a permit.
“I think that one of the animals lunged at the officer and Conway,” he said. “I don’t want to wait until the chain breaks and something happens.”
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett said ordinances are already on the books to handle menacing dogs. He questioned how it is taking so long to get the matter before a judge.
“If you wait until after the court date, and it injures a kid, it’s too late,” Taylor said.
Moore said she understands the ordinances to require outside dogs be kept in a pen, not just on a chain.
Taylor added that the ordinance requires the pen to be covered on the top so dogs cannot get over and out of the pen.
“If we feel 100 percent confident they are not confined and are a danger...,” Taylor said.
“Yes, I feel like we should do something,” Moore said.
Zinn said the board should have grounds to pick up the dogs if the owner is in violation of county animal ordinances.
Dickerson said his deputy observed one dog that appeared to be somewhat threatening and 15 other dogs, some tied and others in kennels.
“I really need an order,” he said.
The homeowner argued there should be a limit on the number of pit bulls a person can keep at a time.
The Town of Potts Camp and DeSoto County have outlawed pit bulls altogether, Dickerson said.
“If we can get a judge to sign a seizure order, I will try to fix some space to hold them,” Dickerson said. “I cannot pick them up without a judge’s order.”
Board attorney Tacey Clayton Locke said the board of supervisors has filed a complaint in the case but conflicts came up in the judge’s schedule.
“So I will reset the date for the hearing,” she said. “I don’t know anything about picking them up beforehand.”
Dickerson said the county could seek an emergency order from a judge.
“But I can tell you, if the dog is loose and a threat to you and your family, kill him,” Dickerson told the man bringing the complaint before the board again.
“I motion we obtain immediate removal of these dogs,” Zinn said.
In a followup interview with Moore and Dickerson Tuesday, Moore said the number of dogs, the majority of which are pit bulls, has varied at the location in question on South Red Banks Road past Hawks Feed Mill from as many as 45 to as few as 11.
Moore said a justice court judge and Clayton reviewed the animal ordinances and found they require three consecutive citations be written before a judge can give an order to seize the animals.
“This (the ordinance) is something, in my opinion, the board may want to revisit,” said Dickerson. “It certainly handicaps us in a situation as far as seizing an animal that could be a threat to the public.”
In other business, the board of supervisors:
The board of supervisors meets Monday, April 23, at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 103b Market Street in downtown Holly Springs. The room is adjacent to the Marshall County Tax Office on the east side of the square.
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