Commissioners take another look at pit bull laws -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Commissioners take another look at pit bull laws

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Roger Marietta, City Commissioner Roger Marietta, City Commissioner
Donna Strickland, Albany Humane Society Executive Director Donna Strickland, Albany Humane Society Executive Director

An Albany proposal suggesting stricter enforcement against pit bulls is under review.    Commissioners are giving a second read to the city attorney's pit bull ordinance.    

Many leaders supported the proposal, but one commissioner wasn't convinced. Commissioners agree restrictions against pit bulls will improve public safety. But some want to take more aggressive steps than others.       

The say a dog's bark is worse than its bite, but others say it's just the opposite with pit bulls.    "I have to say being here, working with the humane society for nearly 19 years, the worst bites we've had in this office have been inflicted by pit bulls," said Donna Strickland, Albany Humane Society Executive Director.   

And that danger is exactly why commissioners asked the city attorney to draft a pit bull ordinance to improve public safety.  But some say the proposal was too rigid. "We don't want people to be forced to relinquish the pets that they love," said Roger Marietta, City Commissioner.   

He says that could happen if leaders enforce the proposal mandating a six-foot fully enclosed fence for pit bulls.  It must be 25 feet away from property lines. And the owner will be required to get a $100,000 liability insurance policy.  

"Poor people or middle class people that can't afford all these restrictions, a $6,000 fence and everything, are gonna have to, they just, what they do is let the dog out loose and then they claim it's not their dog,"  said Marietta.    

He says pit bull restrictions in Terrell County led to numerous stray animals.   "We don't want a flood of unwanted pit bulls roaming around the streets of Albany," said Marietta.     Changes to home owner insurance policies created problems for Albany dog owners in the past.  

"We did see a lot of people who brought them in because their insurance wasn't gonna cover them before," said Strickland.   But there could be an easier answer.   "There might be a low cost alternative to just require owners to muzzle their dogs anytime they're outside the house," said Marietta.    

A simple step, he says, could be combined with other low cost measures to improve public safety and protect dog owners' rights. Marietta says he supports a pit bull ordinance, but he worries the existing proposal will be too costly for owners and too difficult to enforce.  Commissioners are expected to revisit the issue at their night meeting in February.


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