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Council discusses vicious dog ordinance

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Salem City Council met on Sept. 3 to discuss a new city ordinance banning vicious dogs. The mayor presented the council members with examples of several vicious dog ordinances from surrounding areas, and also passed out a copy of a lawsuit that had been filed to challenge a vicious dog ordinance in Missouri. It was pointed out that the city of Maumelle's ordinance has been challenged twice in court and prevailed.

Police Chief Al Roork spoke about the problem of dogs in the city, including a recent attack upon himself by a pit bull. "I estimate we have between 20 and 25 pit bull owners in the city, and I know of two Rottweiler's within city limits," said Roark. "Pit bulls are a desirable breed for certain individuals in our county. Ninety percent of attacks are pit bull related. These dogs have been bred to fight, they aren't treated right, they're kept chained or caged, and when they bite, they don't let go."

The council agreed that pit bulls, mixed pit bull breeds and Rottweiler's would be included in the new ordinance. City attorney, Duane Plumlee was attending the meeting, and expressed the point that existing dogs would need to be grandfathered into any ordinance the city enacts; however, he stated that certain restrictions could be put into place making it very difficult for current owners to be compliant, such as posting signs, neutering the animals, having their vaccinations up to date and more.

The council moved to have Plumlee create a draft ordinance for review at the regularly scheduled city council meeting on Sept. 24.

In other news, the city's finances are doing well, despite not having been reimbursed by FEMA for the final amounts owed. The mayor was confident that checks from FEMA would be forthcoming in the next week or two. Sales tax collection has remained above projections which the mayor said pointed to people shopping locally in town.

In the police report, Roark stated that a semi-trailer took out the signal light at the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 62/412. He said a technician was on site and that they hoped to have the light back in working order within a day or two.

The department had 71 complaints in August, five auto accidents, six domestic disputes, one sexual assault investigation, four reported thefts and one vicious dog attack on a person.

The city fire department had 10 calls in August, six for motor vehicle accidents and four EMS calls. They completed fire inspections at the school, at Salem Head Start and at the jail. They also assisted in the Bar-D fire in Ash Flat, sending five people to help contain the blaze.

The Town Creek clean-up project is complete and finalized. All contractors have been paid and the job has been closed out. The city also recently acquired it's new ADEQ permit to operate the city sewer system. The new permit is good for five years.

The city's pre-application for a grant for a composting operation has received preliminary approval, and the city is going forward with a full application for the grant. The mayor expects to hear a result in late September or early October as to whether or not the city will receive the grant.

It was also discussed that the city is in need of new heavy equipment, including two dump trucks, a back hoe and a service truck. The mayor is looking at a funding program through Rural Development that may assist the city in acquiring the new equipment. This program was utilized by the city last year to purchase two police vehicles.

The council then went into executive session to discuss pay raises for the two newest members of the Salem Police Department, and then adjourned the meeting.

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I live in Maumelle. We continue to have vicious dogs. My neighbor's dog killed my cat. True, various breeds are banned but this does not stop some dogs from being vicious.

The problem is owners not being the "pack leader". Pit bulls were bred to be very protective and obedient. (Petie, the dog on "Our Gang" was a pit bull). People train pit bulls to be vicious. They also train Chihuahuas to be vicious. Some training is intentional and some is consequential.

To solve this problem in your city require training for dog owners. Then when someone fails to be the "pack leader" it is the fault of the owner, not the dog, or the breed.

-- Posted by diplod on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 4:14 AM

Creating an ordinance concerning vicious dogs is important to our community. So too should be enforcement of the leash laws within city limits. While pit bulls and other large breeds might be considered more dangerous, the fact remains that any dog can bite, create a nuisance, or cause damage to other people's property. For the animal's safety, as well as the safety of people, dogs should be kept in a secure enclosed area. Owners who don't want to abide by the city ordinances should be fined. They should also question whether they are worthy companions for " man's best friend".

-- Posted by ldenny58 on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 7:08 PM

The City of Melbourne adopted an ordinance similar to what Salem is considering. An ordinance doesn't do any good unless the Council, animal control, law enforcement don't do their part to enforce the ordinances.

There needs to be tougher penalties for people who do not keep their animals at home, and for those who dump animals because they no longer want them. The rural areas become dumping grounds for animals, which leads to more problems when the dogs pack up and go after livestock.

No ordinance will be worth the paper it's written on unless it is enforced!

-- Posted by goatgirl on Fri, Sep 11, 2009, at 12:44 PM

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