Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Leaders are mum about pit bull ban- Ridgeland, MS

Ridgeland city legal officials are mum on whether a working final draft of a controversial proposal includes a ban on pit bulls and other so-called dangerous dogs from the city as did an initial draft.

"I'm not going to say a word," said James Gabriel, a city attorney. "I haven't gotten anything that is something they (the mayor and Board of Aldermen) want out yet."

The city's attorneys, police chief and top officials have been collaborating on the final draft, which could be ready for public review by early February. A public hearing likely will be held in March, city officials said.

The city first presented a proposed amendment to its animal control ordinance regarding dog breeds in September. The proposal called for the banning of pit bulls, Rottweilers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and their offspring from Ridgeland.

When the proposal became public, city residents were emotional, outspoken and seemingly divided about the possibility of a breed-specific ban. Many showed up to board meetings to express their concerns.

This prompted the board to delay voting to gather additional information, explore potential litigation issues and work on a possible revision.

"It (a final proposal) is supposed to be ready for the first meeting in February," said Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee.

The city, McGee said, expects to set a public hearing on the matter at that Board of Aldermen meeting, scheduled for Feb. 3. The hearing likely will be held the first meeting in March, he said.

Both Richland and Clinton do not allow pit bulls. Clinton also has banned Rottweilers.

Rankin County officials also are tightening controls on pit bulls in the county. Reservoir-area Supervisor Wood Brown said pit bulls must be registered with Rankin County's animal control office and have to meet requirements when it comes to where they can be housed.

Talk of strengthening Ridgeland's animal control ordinance comes on the heels of a Rottweiler attacking a Ridgeland police officer last summer and months of heated feuding between couple Pete and Gloria Grantham of Ralde Circle and their next-door-neighbor. The neighbor, April Scott, describes the Granthams' two pit bulls and Rottweiler as dangerous, although a Ridgeland Municipal Court judge has ruled the dogs do not appear to be a threat.

Even so, the Granthams were forced to remove two of their four pit bulls and their Jack Russell terrier when the city in September revoked a special permit they had granted the couple that allowed them to keep six dogs despite a city ordinance limiting households to three.

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