July 21, 2006 - Montgomery City Council members met Thursday to discuss vicious animals . The meeting of the Public safety Standing committee was prompted by recent pit bull attacks. On June 17, 2006, A PIT BULL broke free from its chain and ran through an open gate and attacked two children playing behind a house. Medics treated the children at the scene and advised them to seek further medical attention.
Diane Sherman, who lives in Forest Hills, said her dog was attacked in her front yard by a neighbor's PIT BULL while her 14 yr old son was walking it on a leash. It took 3 adults and her son to break up the attack and she's very lucky her son didn't get attacked but she has a $700 veterinarian bill for her mauled pet. She said the process of filing a "vicious animal affidavit" took her 4 hours! "I think that is the reason more people don't file vicious animal affidavits," she said. "I almost got up and walked away!"
Steven Tears, director of the Montgomery Humane Society, encouraged the council to take action to stop backyard breeders, who are not held accountable, and encourage people to spay and neuter their pets. He said they often find out about backyard breeding or dog fighting after a drug bust. Tears also suggested a breeder's license.
C. T. Tolliver, an animal control officer for 22 years, said people receive a written warning for their first violation of the leash law and a citation for the second offense, which leads to an automatic court appearance where a judge sets the fine. If a person or their pet is attacked, they are advised they can fill out a" Vicious Animal Affidavit". The affidavit prompts an investigation by animal control officers, who submit their findings to a municipal court judge. The judge ultimately determines the punishment and the fate of the dog.
City Councilman Glen Pruitt has expressed concern about what he sees as a growing pattern of violence involving pit bulls. At his urging, the council's public safety committee is looking into possible ordinance changes.
Capt. Huey Thornton, a Montgomery police spokesman, told a Montgomery Advertiser reporter that he believes pit bulls are responsible for the majority of a growing number of incidents involving vicious dogs. We would suggest that any new ordinance start with tough penalties - jail time and a lifetime prohibition against dog ownership - for anyone who used any type of vicious animal to protect an illegal enterprise, such as a crack house.
The city also should ensure it has adequate procedures for allowing citizens to report concerns about potentially vicious animals and having animal control officers to investigate whether those concerns are valid. Citizens should not have to wait until someone is attacked before getting help!