After much debate, pit bulls will not be banned in West Fork, Arkansas.
According to Mayor Frances Hime, a proposed ordinance which would have introduced Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) to the town, will no longer go forward after the city council voted against banning pit bulls, but instead proposes to introduce stiffer penalties to vicious animals and irresponsible owners.
The city was considering a ban of pit bulls after there were several incidents involving loose pit bulls chasing or attacking people in the past year. When originally proposed, Mayor Hime felt the city needed to take action. "They are running loose and we've had incidents in this city that alarmed us enough to look at this issue."
However, she put the blame firmly on irresponsible dog owners. "I don't want to punish the animal, but we have to get at the people somehow, and this is the way that we send the message," she said.
However, the proposed ban was met with skepticism and opposition by the representatives from a local humane society and concerned dog owners at a public town meeting held in May.
At the town hall discussion dog owner, Bob Sims said, "I'm not so sure that it's constitutional, I think it's more a matter of raising and enforcing laws that are probably preexisting."
Mayor Hime said she could see both sides of the issue, having owned a pit bull herself. "I understand the feelings completely, I've had a pit bull in the past, I had it for many years, they're sweet and loving, but there are people who aren't responsible."
After lengthy discussion and review, the council will now change current ordinances to not single out any particular breed, but instead have greater punishments for irresponsible dog owners.
In a statement Hine said: "The animal is always a victim when its owner fails to recognize it for what is and treat it in the manner it was born to, a sentient being with its own genetic and cultural history. Animals are not our children and they are not human, but they are definitely entitled to be treated humanely."
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