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City of Etowah proposes banning pit bulls within city limits

7:25 PM, Oct 7, 2012   |    comments
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The city of Etowah in McMinn County has proposed making it illegal to own any breed of pit bull, including mixed-breeds, within the city limits.

An Etowah City Ordinance up for a vote by the city commission in the coming weeks claims the dogs are "dangerous to humans and other animals" and have "a tendency to attack" those who aren't provoked.

Under the ordinance, current owners will be allowed to keep their dogs. But those owners will be required to register their dog with the city, muzzle them when out in public, keep them confined indoors or in a locked pin, and must post a "beware of dog sign" on their property. Offspring born of registered pit bulls will be removed, according to the ordinance.

The city commission passed the first reading of the ordinance unanimously on September 27th. The ordinance would take the approval of a second reading to become law.

When 10News reached out to Mayor Jimmy Bull and city commissioners, they either said "no comment" or didn't return our calls.

The definition of pit bull under the ordinance is broad and includes: Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, mixed pit bull breeds, and "any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of dogs" previously listed. The ordinance defines "predominately" as more than 50% pit bull.

The ordinance says if you fail to comply, the dog will "be subject to immediate seizure and inpoundment" and could also face fines.

Break the Chains, a pit bull rescue located in nearby Madisonville, is upset by the proposed law. Founder Leslie Woody says the ordinances' description does not describe the entire breed.

With the help of volunteer foster families, Break the Chains has rescued more than 300 pit bulls.

She works to keep pit bulls from being euthanized. She's afraid the Etowah ordinance would make that job harder.

"If they ban these breeds of dogs, think of all the dogs that are going to have to be euthanized that didn't do anything wrong," Woody said.

She says the three pit bulls that live with her are loving and playful.

"I tell everybody, 'You've never been loved until you've bee loved by a pit bull,'" she said.

She plans to voice her opinion at the next city council meeting.

According to Woody, that meeting is set for Monday October 22nd. However the commission will discuss the proposal at an agenda meeting on Friday October 19th. You must register with the city to speak at the meeting.

Several years ago, the cities of Dandridge, Rockwood, and Middlesboro, Kentucky also proposed banning pit bulls. Those laws never passed.

Other cities, including Jefferson City and White Pine, have banned those dogs, however.

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