Dog ban has long history in Maumelle

A pit bull ban in Maumelle is among the oldest things in the city.

Maumelle was founded in 1985, in 1986 the first animal control ordinance was passed on June 16.

The ordinance then “prohibited the keeping of a dog substantially conforming to standards set by two kennel clubs as to certain breeds, including American Pit Bull Terrier.”

It also, “empowered an enforcement officer to enter upon any premises for the purpose of seeing an animal prohibited by the ordinance.”

The language is taken from a legal abstract of a case Steele Holt, who owned a pit bull and lived in Maumelle, pursued.

Holt sued the city in Pulaski County Circuit Court in 1987. That suit was eventually settled. 

The ordinance was amended in April 1988 and the ability of an animal control officer to go into a home was removed. It was amended again in May 1988 to prohibit certain breeds of dogs.

Holt, who still owned a pit bull, again sued in Circuit Court, lost and appealed up before the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1991 ruled that the Maumelle ordinances were legally valid.

In a law school article, then student Lindsey Bailey wrote, “the ordinance that named American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers as banned breeds in Maumelle. The court declared that the ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague in its classification of banned dogs, which includes: ‘any dog whose sire or dame’ is one of the banned breeds; any dog whose owner registers or admits the dog as being one of the banned breeds; any dog “conforming or substantially conforming” to one of the banned breeds as defined by one of two kennel clubs; or any dog “which is of the breed commonly referred to as ‘pit bull’ and commonly recognizable and identifiable as such.” 

Bailey’s article continued and she wrote, “the court also concluded that the city had a reasonable basis under the state’s police power for including specific breeds in the list of banned dogs, namely for the purpose of preventing injury to people and property by dogs.”

Maumelle’s ban was so effective, it was the model for the city of North Little Rock when it banned pit bulls in 2007 as then-City Attorney Jason Carter said it had already been tested by the Arkansas Supreme Court in an article about the proposed ban in The Times of North Little Rock.

Bailey’s law school writings weren’t in support of the ban.

“This article urges the city of Maumelle, along with municipalities in Arkansas and other states, to heed the recommendation of the [American Bar Association] and repeal breed-specific dog ownership laws in favor of breed-neutral legislation.”

Bailey added, “breed-specific legislation, such as the Maumelle ordinance, raises constitutional concerns, is ineffective in reducing the number of injuries caused by dog bites, and that breed-neutral legislation is a more effective and less discriminatory alternative.”

The full article from Bailey can be read by clicking here

The animal control ordinance has been amended over the years and most recently in 2006 when the American Bulldog was added to the list of banned breeds.

The 2006 language of the ordinance said, “Banned breeds of dogs are banned entirely and may not be owned or kept within the city. Banned breeds of dogs are any of the following:

1) American Pit Bull Terrier.

2) Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

3) American Staffordshire Terrier.

4) American Bulldog

The ordinance added: 

  • Any dog whose sire or dam is a dog of a breed which is defined as a banned breed of dog under this section.

  • Any dog whose owner registers, defines, admits or otherwise identifies the dog as being of a banned breed.

  • Any dog conforming or substantially conforming to the breed of American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or American Bulldog as defined by the United Kennel Club or American Kennel Club.

  • Any dog which is of the breed commonly referred to as "pit bull" and commonly recognizable and identifiable as such.

The debate continues anew as the Maumelle City Council will hear a proposed ordinance that will change how Animal Control handles pit bulls, among other breeds.