Maumelle’s board is once again considering lifting restrictions on dog breeds

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Maumelle city council is considering for the second time in two years an ordinance that would repeal the ban on residents owning pit bulls in the city.

The ordinance would amend the city code to revise enforcement procedures, eliminate the categories “potentially dangerous animal” and “dangerous animal”, modify the current definition of “dangerous animal” and remove the ban on certain breeds from dogs.

Council member Chad Gardner sponsored the ordinance, which had its first reading at the City Council meeting last week.

Gardner said the proposed ordinance would revise and strengthen the city’s animal services code and end Maumelle’s discrimination against certain breeds of animals based on their appearance.

“We will not have animal control examining dogs based on their breeds and appearance, and in turn, we will allow animal control to treat all dogs the same,” Gardner told the board members.

Eva Palmer, a resident of Maumelle and an elder at St. Joseph’s School in Conway, told council members that she had done extensive research on the breed ban for a Girl Scout project and supported the repeal of the ban.

“I understand the intention of [breed-specific legislation] is to protect the community from potentially dangerous animals, “Palmer said.” However, I have learned that BSL is not an effective solution and does more harm than good. “

Palmer told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in an interview Thursday that she began researching the topic in July, after becoming interested in the topic in 2019 after learning of Maumelle’s pit bull ban. American Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and American Bulldogs.

She ultimately decided that addressing the ban would be a good topic for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

Palmer said she started researching breed-specific legislation and came to the conclusion that such legislation was ineffective.

“It punishes those who have prohibited, well-trained dogs without holding accountable owners of really dangerous dogs,” Palmer told the council. “Additionally, BSL provides a false sense of security without emphasizing the importance of socialization and training, as it implies that a dog’s behavior is their fault.”

Palmer suggested alternatives to breed bans, including a focus on dog owner accountability, stricter leash laws, increased availability of low-cost sterilization services, laws prohibiting chaining, and containment of dogs; and stronger enforcement of animal cruelty laws.

“I decided it was important for me to speak at the city council meeting on February 1 because I realized that communicating my findings to my local lawmakers is the only way to make a tangible difference in repealing race-specific legislation, ”Palmer said in an email to the Democrat-Gazette. “Although it was scary for me to deliver my speech to the city council, I think it was a necessary step to effectively disseminate my research to the public and inform city councilors of my project. “

RJ Mazzoni urged other council members to consider taking a measured approach to repealing the ban.

“When you look at Cabot, they have certain restrictions where they have to be spayed and other restrictions,” Mazzoni said. “I think some steps are too far, like having a sticker on your house, but that’s something we should consider. We have to look at everything. We can’t go from zero to 60 here.”

Council member Steve Mosley said he understood supporters of the proposed ordinance viewed the ban as discriminatory and believed that a dog owner should be held accountable, but said he did not did not consider them to be good arguments.

“They try to equate dogs with humans,” he said. “Dogs don’t have the same rights. Dogs are born with certain innate abilities, like retrievers automatically picking up things and English setters pointing fingers at birds.

“Pit bulls are fighters and they tend to crack. I don’t think you can blame the owner. It’s the dogs that bite. If the dogs aren’t around, they won’t bite anyone.”

Gardner and fellow Council member Terry Williams in 2019 introduced an ordinance to lift Maumelle’s ban on dog breeds such as the American Bulldog and Pit Bull, but the proposal was rejected.

Gardner said Thursday that one of the reasons he’s brought him back this year is because new members have been elected to city council.

“I knew that at least one of them was looking to help revise the Animal Ordinance,” he said. “In 2019, we failed 5-3, so we technically lacked a voice to get it passed. With a new election and new faces on the board, I decided to start over.”

City attorney Melissa Krebs and officials from the city’s animal services department helped create the proposed order, Gardner said.

“Two years ago I received a lot of support from the community,” Gardner said. “I only got four or five emails that were against it, but many were for it.”

Mosley told the Democrat-Gazette that he voted against the previously proposed ordinance when it was published over a year ago, and he said he also plans to vote against the current proposal.

“I have personally seen what a pit bull can do to another animal when it attacks, and so I have safety concerns for our children and our pets here in Maumelle,” he said. he stated in an e-mail. “I heard countless voters the last time this happened and again in a door-to-door campaign, and I continue to be convinced that the vast majority want to keep the ban in place.”

Gardner said 21 states had banned discriminatory racial bans last year, adding that it was time for Maumelle to move forward. He said the idea that the city isn’t safe because of pit bulls and bulldogs doesn’t make sense.

“We had more Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd dog bites than any other dog in 2018,” Gardner said. “Are we going to ban Labradors? No, because it’s ridiculous, and Labradors are the most popular dog in the country.

“There is no data to show that one specific breed is more dangerous than another. If you look across the country, you will see that various breeds of dogs are banned. One person was attacked by a German Shepherd, and they banned the German Shepherds. It was all emotional. decisions made at the time. “

Gardner said if communities focused on educating and enforcing dog laws that prevent chaining and tying, as well as helping with spaying, they would be more successful in reducing dog bites. dog than they would by discriminating against specific breeds.

“Breed bans are not an effective solution to preventing dog bites and give residents a false sense of security that they are being protected from dogs,” he said, “but the point is. any dog ​​can bite “.


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