The city’s ban on pit bull terriers is unfair and discriminates against a breed of dog that is no more dangerous than a poodle.
Chris Smith, who recently moved to Carthage, and Kevin Wheeler, who said he may be moving to Carthage, both came to the Carthage City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday with that message, asking that the city revisit the nearly-20-year-old pitt bull ban.
“I’d like to get it lifted,” Smith told the committee. “Two of my family members, they’re more than pets, are pit bulls and I don’t believe any certain breed should be banned. It would be like banning certain kinds of people because they do something wrong every once in a while. There is not one breed that is more temperamental than any other.”
Smith said he was at the meeting because Jacob High, who addressed the committee in February about the ordinance, could not attend.
Carthage’s ordinance specifically bans bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bulls, the American Staffordshire terrier and dogs of a mixed breed or of other breeds than those listed or mixed breed known as pit bulls, pit bulldogs or pit bull terriers.
It also bans any dog that “has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of bull terrier, Staffordshire terrier, any other breed commonly known as pit bulldogs or pit bull terriers or a combination of any of these breeds,” according to the ordinance.
The ordinance grandfathered in dogs in Carthage prior to Jan. 26, 1993 and subjected them to stringent controls.
Anyone convicted of violating this ordinance is subject to fines of between $200 and $500 and the dog must be removed from the city limits.
Smith and Wheeler asked the committee to consider changing the ordinance to a vicious animal ordinance without listing any specific breed.
Smith and Wheeler pointed out that poodles and other smaller breeds of dogs bite people more often than pit bulls, but pit bulls are singled out only because their bites do more damage.
Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan informed the committee that he would oppose changing the ordinance.
“My experience is what they said is correct, other dogs bite people, I wouldn’t disagree with that,” Dagnan said. “My experience is also that if someone gets hurt very badly by a dog bite, it’s probably a pit bull that did it. Their bites are very dangerous and that’s why I would oppose any change.”
Public Safety Committee Chairman Dan Rife referred the ordinance to City Attorney Nate Dally and asked that he research the ordinances in other communities.
Rife said he expected to revisit the ordinance at the next Public Safety Committee meeting slated for 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 16 at the Carthage Police Department.