Thursday, October 9, 2008

BSL battle brewing in Mississipi community

from the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, MS:

Ridgeland postpones vote on dog ban
Aldermen may revise ordinance that would forbid certain breeds

Leah Square • October 8, 2008

RIDGELAND — City leaders had planned to vote Tuesday on a proposal banning certain dog breeds in the city but postponed the vote to gather more information and, possibly, soften the proposal.

The mayor and Board of Aldermen announced Monday they were considering amending the city's animal control ordinance to ban American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Rottweilers. Also named were dogs whose mothers or fathers are one of those breeds, dogs resembling one of the named breeds and dogs deemed "vicious" by a Ridgeland Municipal Court judge.

City leaders Tuesday decided to table the measure after being inundated with phone calls and e-mails regarding the proposed ban. Several residents showed up for the board meeting Tuesday intending to voice concerns.

"It's a very emotional issue on both sides," Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee said.

McGee said the city may tweak its original proposal and revisit the issue at its next board meetings Oct. 20-21.

"We'll try to come up with something that does not penalize responsible animal owners and deal with those that are not responsible."

A breed-specific ban, however, is not off the table, McGee said.

The breed ban discussion comes after months of feuding between Pete and Gloria Grantham of 615 Ralde Circle and their next-door neighbor, April Scott, over the Granthams' pit bulls and Rottweiler.

Aldermen appear to be split on the possibility of an amendment that singles out certain breeds.

Gerald Steen, the alderman most vocally for a breed ban, said Tuesday he is willing to consider alternatives.

"We have a challenge in front of us. I am very open-minded to look and listen."

Alderman Scott Jones is against a breed ban and suggested instead amending the animal control ordinance to obligate owners of certain breeds to take "extra steps" in order to keep their dogs.

Jones also said he is unsure if citywide breed bans have been successful and would like to look further into those statistics before making a "knee-jerk" decision.

Clinton does not allow pit bulls or Rottweilers. Madison city leaders last month began talk of a pit bull ban.

Pete and Gloria Grantham, who own pit bulls and a Rottweiler, showed up at the board meeting Tuesday to protest the proposed ban and said they were upset the city didn't call a public hearing to allow residents to comment.

"If they're going to ban anything citywide, they need to have a public (hearing)," Pete Grantham said. "That's only right."

The Granthams have been involved in a heated battle with Scott over their dogs for months. Scott, the mother of two young girls, has said the couple's dogs are a danger and a nuisance - a claim the Granthams dispute.

All attempts at a private compromise on the dogs between the neighbors, as suggested by a Ridgeland Municipal Court judge, have been unsuccessful.

The parties are due to make a third appearance in court over the issue Monday.

Ridgeland aldermen voted unanimously last month to revoke a permit they had granted the Granthams in May that allowed them to keep six dogs on their property despite a city ordinance limiting households to three.

The Granthams at one time owned four pit bulls, a Rottweiler and a Jack Russell terrier. The couple now keeps two pit bulls and the Rottweiler on their property.

It's unfortunate that, once again, it's the bully breeds that get bullied because of the inability of human beings to get along with one another. Let's hope Alderman Jones stands his ground.

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