Thursday, May 17, 2007
Kahr gives input on animal control
By SUE WATSON
George Kahr, who has worked with the Humane Society in Florida and is now a member of the Marshall County Humane Society, encouraged the board of supervisors Monday not to ban pit bulls or specific breeds of dogs.
“A total ban on anything is pretty drastic and nearly impossible to enforce,” he said, noting he has reviewed ordinances available on the Internet to see how other states and counties have dealt with vicious or dangerous dogs.
Kahr, who owns three rottweilers and has kept five dogs, said his animals could be considered dangerous by definition of being over 30 pounds in weight and capable of harming a human.
He has to restrain one of his dogs or she will jump up on guests.
“Under law she’s classified as a dangerous animal,” he said.
By definition, vicious dogs show aggressive behavior and are likely to attack and cause injury or can be trained to attack on command, he said.
“That’s an issue we need to deal with responsibly with respect to pit bulls,” Kahr said. “Some animals have been bred to attack small animals.”
He said any dog with a good disposition can be properly trained and socialized, but he thinks teens misuse pit bulls because of machismo, and a belief that a pit bull increases their stature.
With respect to costs of enforcing animal control ordinances, Kahr recommended the county provide trained staff, facilities and certified staff to administer euthanasia when required. Many governing bodies fund animal control with fines and fees, he said.
The ordinances should require strict escape-proof kennels, he said. Pit bull ownership should be limited to two per household and require the pets be sterilized, he said.
“If you want a good pit bull for a pet, sterilization is the way to go,” Kahr said. “I recommend you not go with a full ban on pit bulls, unless you go house to house to enforce it.”
Supervisor George Zinn III said if the pit bull was outlawed it would be a crime to own one, but due to cross breeding, it could be hard to determine what percentage of pit bull breed would be required to outlaw it.
“That’s why the definitions are important, because a German shepherd can be dangerous,” Kahr said.
Supervisor Willie Flemon, who has some bird dogs, said dogs are “bad to dig out” of a kennel.
Kahr said concrete slabs with the fence bolted down to it and a covering over the top will serve as a secure kennel, or that landscaping timbers can be used around the edges of a steel fence to keep dogs from digging out.
“There are also laws requiring the owner to have liability insurance,” Kahr said, citing the cities of Biloxi and Pascagoula.
“Money is the first thing,” said Flemon. “I think fees and fines are better than raising taxes.”
Fees can be collected by requiring breeders to have licenses, Kahr said.
Putting a limit on the number of dogs a breeder could keep would be unworkable, Kahr said, citing hunting dog breeders as an example. Breeders could be required to meet the space requirements for humane treatment of animals and to be licensed.
Zoning director Conway Moore said the ordinances adopted by the county limit the number kept in a kennel to four.
“I suggest you take no action or make no specific pit bull ban,” Kahr said. “All encompassing bans in most cases do not work.”
Kahr offered to research animal ordinances and come back to the board with his findings.
Board attorney Tacey Clark Locke recommended Kahr look at leash laws, how expensive they are to enforce and where they have worked successfully.
“I’m offering my services because it’s a subject close to me,” Kahr said. “I would not want to keep people from keeping dogs for field trials providing they have kennels, immunizations and quality care.”
Locke said the board of supervisors has done the best it can in providing animal control, considering the availability of funds.
“I well understand that, because I pay taxes here, too,” Kahr said.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett said professional breeders with legitimate business interests should be allowed to kennel animals.
“I kind of agree, you won’t get anywhere banning a breed,” added Supervisor Eddie Dixon.
“I encourage your research,” said Zinn.
Kahr said it will take about 45 days to do the research and come back to the board of supervisors with a report.
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