Thursday, July 19, 2007
Potts Camp ordinance prohibits vicious dogs
By SUE WATSON
A recent dog ordinance passed by the Town of Potts Camp has drawn some criticism and concern by pet owners, according to Mayor Jimmie Collins.
He said the board of aldermen may have to revisit the ordinance from time to time. He has received very few calls from pet owners concerned about the definition of vicious dogs, he said.
The ordinance prohibits a vicious dog to be within the town, requires vaccinations and identification tags, muzzles when walking a dog on a leash, and the penning of dogs kept outside the house, according to alderman Joan Cox, who backs the ordinance.
Collins said the ordinance was needed because meter readers were having trouble getting to meters at some residences.
The language in the ordinance was causing some concern from residents who quibbled about the definition of vicious, he said. The ordinance requires that vicious dogs be muzzled when on a leash.
“I had one guy to call and say he had two pit bulls and had gotten rid of them and then got a citation for another dog,” Collins said. “The dog does not have to be a pit bull to be vicious.”
The ordinance has been in effect for about two months. Potts Camp police enforce the ordinance. The town has no provisions for picking up and housing animals.
Collins said the town has a problem with dogs running loose. People are dumping off unwanted pets in the town. Some residents carry a stick when they are walking, another indication that dogs are threatening the peace, he said.
Potts Camp is a small town and most dogs are recognized by the public.
“We’ve got stray dogs and you can notice this in certain areas,” he said. “I see dogs I’ve never seen before. Being a small town, people are dropping off dogs who don’t live here. I see them usually at the first of the month.”
Good hearted residents are feeding strays, allowing them to linger at their homes, and then when there is a problem with the dog being a nuisance, no one claims ownership of the dog, Collins said.
The mayor said he worries that a vicious dog will attack a youngster. The ordinance is there to protect citizens, he said.
Several cases are expected to come before the municipal court soon. Collins is advising residents who have received citations for their dog to explain their situation to Judge Cunningham.
Collins said he believes the board of aldermen is being fair to residents and the ordinance is being applied equitably.
He doesn’t have a dog, but said he understands people who do.
“I understand every dog owner - whether it is a pit bull or another kind of dog - has to love a dog or they wouldn’t want them,” he said. “We have a dog problem here. I hate it for the people who take care of their dogs and keep them up. Some are pleased with the ordinance and some are upset with it.”
The mayor hopes those who have concerns will come to the board of aldermen meetings, get on the agenda and participate in the discussion.
Alderman Cox said she has not received any calls from residents regarding the ordinance but she fully supports the ordinance.
She has personal experience. A vicious dog attacked her little chihuahua on the back deck and killed it right in front of her eyes. Other strays are setting up housekeeping at night on her deck, so she has to remove the cushions from the furniture at night to keep them from being slept on by strays. Cox said she wants her grandson to be able to play on the back deck but worries about stray dogs attacking him, after her little dog was killed.
The alderman said the public has been advised for three or four months about requirement for fencing in dogs that are kept outdoors.
“No one has done it,” she added.
The public asked for the ordinance for a long time before one was passed, she said.
“We will enforce what we have now for the safety of the citizens of Potts Camp,” Cox said. “That’s how I would vote.”
One alderman’s son was chased into the utility room by a stray and had to be rescued, that’s how bad the stray dog problem has been, Cox said.
“There are so many strays down here it is pitiful,” she said. “Everybody just dumps their mangy dog off and they run in packs. The dig up the flower beds. People won’t own them even though they are feeding them.
“The town just had to do something. People were complaining at nearly every board meeting.”
Some cats have been attacked by stray or vicious dogs in Potts Camp, Cox said.
Cox joined mayor Collins in inviting anyone who has concerns with the new dog ordinance to call town hall and get themselves placed on the agenda so they can have their say.
The Potts Camp mayor and board of aldermen meet on the first Tuesday each month at 6 p.m. at city hall.
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