Jasper passes controversial ‘Pit Bull’ ordinance

The Jasper board of Mayor and Alderman passed a new ordinance on the second reading and after a public hearing on Monday night.

The ordinance prohibits Jasper residents from owning pit bulls in the town. Anyone who already owns a pit bull in Jasper will be able to keep their dog, by adhering to a set of standards and requirements listed in the ordinance.

In a story we brought you first at MarionCountyMessenger.com, the locally-controversial new ordinance places restrictions on ownership of pit bull breed dogs within the city limits.

When introduced and passed on first reading last month, ordinance #376 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.”

After the first reading was passed and word got out around town, many residents took to social media, such as Facebook, to voice their criticism of the city leader’s decisions.

Some of those residents began by contacting their local officials in an attempt to present to them research, facts, figures, or even to ask questions regarding how this would affect them. Several residents opposing the restrictions say they feel city leaders have mostly ignored them or not given any real answers.

In addition to posting about the ordinance online, local residents also took to social media and going door to door with a petition asking local residents to show city leaders than a breed-specific restriction was unwanted.

Prior to this ordinance, Jasper already has several laws on the books regarding dogs and pets. However city leaders say the existing leash law and other regulations that are part of the city’s municipal code http://bit.ly/2q3zCd2) just aren’t working.

Read the entire contents of the official ordinance as passed here…

According to the existing laws, 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 breeds. 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.

The exact language of the ordinance has been one of the big questions many have asked and gotten little response from the city. After the first reading passed last month, mayor Evans stated that the exact wording of the ordinance could see some modifications before the second reading. Citizens learned those changes on Monday night at the city annex building as city leaders met in front of a packed crowd of people — mostly opposing the ordinance and breed-specific legislation in general.

Per the board, those who wished to speak had to be residents of Jasper and there were plenty there to voice their concerns, opposition, and plead their case to the board in hopes to sway their opinions against or away from the ordinance or come to a  “meet in the middle” solution in some way. Those attempts, however, seemed to fall on deaf ears as the ordinance was passed

Those attempts, however, seemed to fall on deaf ears as the ordinance was passed by a unanimous vote.

We’ve talked to several of those who came out in opposition of the ordinance, and they feel city officials were not willing to listen to the residents they serve. One resident who wished to remain anonymous, said they felt as though the board didn’t even care what they had to say, stating that they spent more time talking about the condition of the fire hall than listening to the taxpayers and residents about a situation that directly-affects those in attendance.

In between comments from citizens Mayor Paul Wayne Evans kept ensuring residents during the meeting that [the city] “we’re not going to take your dog”;, however, many have pointed out that the statement is contradictory to the text of the ordinance that residents must comply with or face seizure and impoundment of their pet.

Existing ‘pit bull’ owners who live within the city limits of Jasper and have these types of ‘pit bull’ breeds described in the ordinance will now have only a limited amount of time to comply with the rules and requirements of the ordinance that passed. Many say they’re simply looking at leaving or moving from the city or even Marion County as a result.

Stay with MarionCountyMessenger.com for more on this story.



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