Trumann citizens debate on allowing ‘pit bulls’ back into the city

Trumann citizens debate on allowing ‘pit bulls’ back into the city
Pit bulls have not been allowed within the 5 square miles of Trumann Arkansas since 2011. (Source: KAIT-TV)

TRUMANN, Ark. (KAIT) - The American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Bull Terrier and any dog that conforms to the breed have not been allowed within the five square miles of Trumann, Arkansas since 2011.

Eight years ago, the city passed an ordinance banning “vicious or dangerous animals.”

Specifically, the ordinance includes any dog which is of the breed commonly referred to as “pit bull.”

Those who already owned one were grandfathered in; however, they had to pay an annual license fee of $100 and liability insurance not less than $100,000 to the city.

But, one city council member is trying to change that. Matthew Miller says he has had many people in the city contact him to make a change.

“My proposal, it’s not lifting the ban completely, it’s just allowing responsible pet owners to register their pit-mix with the city of Trumann and legally have it in the city of Trumann,” said Miller.

On Dec. 10, Miller presented the city with an amended ordinance to allow pit bulls back in the city, but with new guidelines.

Those guidelines included providing an annual color photograph to animal control, signage like “Beware of Dog” must be present, and the removal of the fee for all pet owners to keep their pets.

The council voted down the changes.

Rhonda Quails is not only an animal advocate, she also sits on the board of Northeast Arkansas Humane Society. She says these types of laws are breed-specific legislation.

“They’re forcing people underground with their dogs,” Qualls said.

She also says dogs should be judged by their merit and not their owners and it’s time to change the conversation.

“Responsibility should lie with the owner. The dog is playing the price for irresponsible ownership," Qualls said.

She said pit bulls aren’t the only dogs that attack.

“Any dog has the potential to attack at any time. Just because you have the characteristics of this particular dog, we’re just going to ban it all? That’s fear-based legislation, it’s panic policymaking,” Qualls said.

She says it’s not just Trumann who has these laws in place. Currently, in Arkansas at least 43 municipalities in the state have some type of breed-specific ordinance including Lake City and Caraway in Northeast Arkansas.

Lifetime resident of Trumann, Connie Carter, was attacked by a pit bull while walking her dog and was out of work for a week.

“They’re dangerous. They are bad about attacking,” Carter said.

But, more importantly, she says the pet owners are irresponsible.

“Nobody loves animals more than I do. I just think you’re opening up a can of worms if you amend this ordinance," Carter said.

A can of worms, Miller says he will not back down from.

“I am a pet lover; I love dogs of all kinds," he said. “I am going to stand behind it until something changes.”

Miller is currently reworking his ordinance to present again with hopes it will pass at the Jan. 14 meeting.

Region 8 News will keep you updated on if the vicious animal ban in Trumann will be amended.

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