Maumelle: Dog debate taking shape

Pit bulls, other breeds banned in Maumelle, for now

City Council member Chad Gardner took the first step last week in lifting Maumelle’s current ban on pit bulls and other breeds of dogs deemed dangerous by the city when he introduced legislation that would revise Animal Services.

Currently the city has five designations for animals and Gardner’s legislation would reduce that to three, leaving Nuisance, Dangerous and Vicious, but removing Hazardous and Potentially Dangerous.

It would also, “end Maumelle’s discrimination against certain breeds of animals based on their appearance and will recognize and treat all dogs equally rather than placing labels on certain breeds because of their appearance.”

Maumelle has since 1998 made it illegal to own or keep Pit Bulls or American Bulldogs inside city limits.

North Little Rock also bans Pit Bulls, while Little Rock has no bans but residents there are required to register them as potentially dangerous and are only allowed to own two.

Gardner’s move made for an immediate reaction from fellow Council member Steve Mosley who sent out a lengthy email to constituents and other residents of Maumelle.

In it, Mosley wrote, “I firmly believe that legalizing Pit Bulls and other dangerous dog breeds would strip off a layer of safety that residents currently enjoy and make our community less safe.”

He added, “I've personally seen what a Pit Bull can do to another animal when it attacks, and thus I have safety concerns for our children and pet animals here in Maumelle.”

Mosley noted Gardner had previously attempted to have the Pit Bull ban lifted and it had been defeated after, “an avalanche of emails and phone calls from mainstream Maumelle residents.” Mosley then asked for that effort again and said, “I must ask you again to step up and directly communicate with each and every Council member and let them know your stance on this issue.”

Mosley then included the email addresses for council members, Mayor Caleb Norris and City Attorney Melissa Krebs.

Mosley’s personal experiences don’t jibe with the recommendations from the ASPCA, or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In those, the organization said, “there is no evidence that breed-specific laws make communities safer for people or companion animals.”

They also noted that, “breed-specific laws are also costly and difficult to enforce” and that bans come with what they called, “unintended consequences.”

Among those were, “Breed-specific laws have a tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety” as the focus becomes one of enforcement of the ban instead of what the ASPCA called “effective enforcement” tools like:

  • Dog license laws

  • Leash laws

  • Anti-animal fighting laws

  • Anti-tethering laws

  • Spaying and neutering

  • Laws requiring owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed

Indeed, Tracy Roark, Manager of the city of Little Rock’s Animal Village and Education Center said dog ownership is the most important factor in preventing incidents and added Little Rock has had just, “one legal Pit Bull bite [of a person] since 2006.”

That doesn’t include dog violence to other dogs and animals.

ASPCA said its recommendation was a breed-neutral approach for animal control regulations and that other options include:

  • Enforcement of dog license laws

  • Increased availability for low-cost spay and neuter services

  • Dangerous dog laws focused on owner’s behavior

  • Graduated penalties and options for dogs deemed dangerous

  • Laws holding dog owners financially accountable as well as civilly and criminally liable

  • Laws that prohibit chaining, tethering and unreasonable confinement

Text of Steve Mosley’s email

Friends and Neighbors,

As you know, I send out emails to my constituents about important issues that are in front of the City Council. As such, I am sending you this email to let you know that the issue on Pit Bull dogs has resurfaced. Essentially, Council Member Chad Gardner has again introduced legislation that would serve to lift our longstanding City ban on Pit Bull dogs and several related breeds. I firmly believe that legalizing Pit Bulls and other dangerous dog breeds would strip off a layer of safety that residents currently enjoy and make our community less safe. I've personally seen what a Pit Bull can do to another animal when it attacks, and thus I have safety concerns for our children and pet animals here in Maumelle. 

Councilman Gardner's ordinance was defeated the first time, a year or so ago, by an avalanche of emails and phone calls from mainstream Maumelle residents. Essentially, such communication ultimately convinced a majority of Council members to keep the current law in place. As such, I am afraid that I must ask you again to step up and directly communicate with each and every Council member and let them know your stance on this issue. For your use, I have included the email addresses of all the Council members as well as the Mayor and City Attorney as follows:

chad4maumelle@gmail.com, jessieholt@sbcglobal.net, dougshinn4maumelle@gmail.com, tierneymichael@sbcglobal.net, twilliamsward3@gmail.com, rjmazzoni@outlook.com, ken4ward1@msn.com, mosleyaldermanward1@aol.com, calebnorris@maumelle.org, melissakrebs@maumele.org

We have a Code of Ethics for City Council Members in our City Code Book. In it there is a clause stating "Council Members shall bear in mind at all times their responsibility to the entire electorate and shall refrain from actions benefiting special interest groups at the expense of the city as a whole." I think this ethics clause is very applicable in this situation, and so I again plan to vote "no" on this legislation. 

Again, please contact all Council Members and the Mayor. Hopefully you'll agree that safety should be the top priority here in Maumelle!  

As always, it is an honor and privilege to serve as one of your two Ward 1 Council members! 

Steve Mosley

Maumelle City Council Member

Ward 1, Position 1 

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