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Jasper residents show strong opinions over proposed ‘Pit Bull’ ownership restrictions that goes to vote in June

Following up on a story we brought you first at MarionCountyMessenger.com, city leaders are now facing much public scrutiny as residents publicly give their opinion on the proposed and locally-controversial new ordinance regarding pit bull breed dog ownership in the city limits.

According to the new ordinance #376, which passed on first reading, it states: To own a Pit Bull breed dog inside the city limits, the owner must have a $100,000 insurance and the dog has to be registered with the city recorder. Other restrictions include any pen for the dog must have a solid floor or covered 2-ft. into the ground; the pen must also be inspected. 

The city already has a leash law in place and other regulations as part of the city’s municipal code (http://bit.ly/2q3zCd2); however, city leaders say that law and those rules just aren’t working.

Right now, it’s illegal for any dog to run loose in the city of Jasper. It’s also against the law for people own dogs known to be vicious or dangerous, unless the dog is confined or restrained.

Officials say the push for this ordinance comes after increased calls to the city and local police involving dogs of the pit bull breed. They say they’re concerned about the safety of residents and that someone could get hurt by animals who are not properly cared for.

While no humans have been attacked and there’s no reports of anyone being bitten by a pit, the problem seems to relate to other concerns.

Jasper’s Animal Control Officer, Justin Baker, said that these concerns stem not only from dogs running at large, but from those on private property. He says he believes aggressive pit bulls and mixes can be dangerous.

Baker said the city recently had a report where a pit bull breed dog was chained in a homeowners yard and another dog entered the yard and was attacked and killed by the pit bull. He also said that  a pit knocked over a pedestrian back in March. Baker responded with a police officer, and the dog charged at Baker twice during the confrontation.

Residents who own this breed of dog are not happy with city’s decision and would have only about 30 days to comply with the rules of any ordinance that’s passed.

We’ve received many responses regarding the matter via social media and email. Daniel Chambers of Jasper is a pit bull owner. Chambers says his pit bull is the most loving and gentle dog you will ever meet.

“I’m seriously considering walking into that meeting with him,” he said. “No city should be able to pass breed-specific legislation.”

Even residents from outside Jasper echoed with similar opinions.

South Pittsburg resident, Nancy Jackson, said, “Not only are breed restrictions wrong, but the definition of a pit bull dog is so ambiguous that legal enforcement is a joke.”

“Do you punish only Staffordshire Bull Terriers or maybe a dog you Think is a pit bull. Or maybe a Cane Corso or English Mastiff. Start with what’s reasonable. Enforce the leash laws for all dogs.”

Jasper Police Chief, Billy Mason, has shown support for the new ordinance. Mason said in recent interview with WRCB-TV, that “If you want to treat that dog as your family member, and it’s loving on your kids and everything, that doesn’t mean it’s going to love on every single thing.”

“The dogs break their chains or get loose and attack other dogs,” Mason said. He says that owners need to be responsible for their dogs.

The leash laws seem to be at the heart of the issue with many residents in Jasper.

Lisa Keahey said in a comment on our original story that she agrees that the leash law is a problem.

“I can’t even walk my dog around Gamble [subdivision] anymore for all the dogs and them jumping my dog. And they aren’t pits either,” she said.

Jasper Mayor Paul Wayne Evans has said that the exact wording of the ordinance could see some modifications before the second reading, but has not given any further indication on what those changes might be.

Residents who own pit bulls in Jasper now worry about how to be prepared for any stipulations that will be placed on responsible owners of the breed. With no further information on what wording might be changed, it leaves things up in the air with a very short time to comply once it goes to a vote.

The city will hold a public hearing on the matter on Monday, June 12th, 2017 at 6:00 PM CDT at the city’s Annex building located behind the Marion County Health Department in Jasper. Officials say if you are interested in speaking and letting your thoughts and opinions be known, you must be a resident of the city of Jasper and request to be put on the agenda for that meeting.

Here’s the video from the meeting, as aired by KWN-TV…




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Permanent link to this article: https://marioncountymessenger.com/2017/05/jasper-residents-show-strong-opinions-over-proposed-pit-bull-ownership-restrictions-that-goes-to-vote-in-june/