On Sunday we received a notice that Monday night’s Parish Council committee meetings would be addressing the existing dangerous and vicious dog ordinance. First thing Monday, I downloaded the agenda from the clerk, and there were two harrowing attachments: The first was an ordinance that was proposed (and defeated) here in 2011 that declared pit bulls (and mixes) inherently dangerous. The second was an ordinance from a neighboring town that included lots of restrictions for pit bull ownership, like they must be muzzled when they leave the property, additional insurance requirements, and so on.
There was quite a bit of confusion about the meeting because the director of the animal shelter spread the word that it was postponed for two weeks, until she was back from vacation. Turned out, that wasn’t the case. Luckily, John and I predicted that and attended the meeting.
We both spoke for our allotted three minutes. I talked about responsible dog ownership and how being a responsible dog owner is breed neutral. John spoke specifically about why breed bans are costly and ineffective and don’t address the root of the problem.
The councilman who put forth the discussion said that he had seen things around the Parish – not simply the fatal attack last month – that gave him cause for concern, like pit bulls being on chains 24 hours a day. He also said that he thinks apartment complexes need to regulate the dogs they allow (many already do, but there seems to be some confusion on this point, which I personally think comes from tenants not following the rules, but another discussion, another day). Finally, he said that he feels like the fines for animal abuse aren’t significant enough.
At that point it went to the rest of the council for discussion. I took tons of notes, but here’s the bottom line:
With the exception of two council members (one seemed to be a fence-sitter, the other seemed to be pro-BSL), the rest of the council agreed that they will revisit the ordinance, but they will NOT incorporate breed-specific language. There will be no BSL in Houma!
And, even better?
One of the council members said that she wants to organize a community board to work on the parish’s animal welfare issues and to spread awareness and education. Such a phenomenal idea!! And obviously I’m going to volunteer!
I’m so glad we went – John and I were the ONLY TWO members of the public who attended. Sigh.
Our voices were heard, and they listened. Now, we’ll attend Wednesday’s full meeting to see what the councilman puts forth in terms of his proposed revisions to the fines and the tethering law.
Thanks for all the support and resource sharing. We were so fully prepared and were able to address all the potential breed-specific concerns head on! As this community board progresses, I’ll let you know how it goes! I think this could be really great!
I had planned to type up my notes and give a recap. Honestly, this post would’ve been up sooner and more concise, but Lukey decided to rip open his stitches which had nearly healed. My fault. We left him unsupervised without the cone for about 20 minutes. Anyway, spent two hours at the vet this morning. Two. Ugh. But he’s ok.