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Many Changes Made To Dog Ordinance In Garland County

Dog ordinance will be voted on next Monday in Garland County
HOT SPRINGS, AR -- The issue of legislating which specific breeds of dogs should be banned has been discussed for years in Garland County, and while there are many sides to this story, it appears a dog ordinance committee has finally agreed on how to handle the issue.

One of the major things to come out of a Monday night meeting was an agreement that all dogs will be required to be licensed by the county if an ordinance passes. The committee did vote on some restrictions for what they call high-risk breed dogs, including pit bulls and pit bull mixes. But the only restrictions are those dogs must be confined in the yard and on a leash when walking.

Dr. Brian Peters has been working as a veterinarian in Garland County for 13 years.

"As a whole, if you ask me to sit and watch a bunch of dogs come through and say which ones would be aggressive, it wouldn't be the pit bull," Peters said, adding that if he was a member of the dog ordinance committee, he would vote against breed-specific legislation, saying it likely won't be effective.

Instead he says all dogs should be licensed and must stay on their owner's property.

"To me, you might single out that dog breed and a month from now, it's going to be a German Shephard that tears the leg off a lady," Peters said.

But dog ordinance committee chairman Mickey Gates looks at things differently. He blames pit bulls for 50 percent of serious bites in the county.

"And sad to say, there are some irresponsible people using these dogs to be bullies in their neighborhood," Gates said, adding it's simply a safety issue.

He says if one breed is doing the most biting and attacking, it should face certain restrictions.

"We hope [restrictions on pit bulls] will cut back on the attacks on animals, on people... People should have the right to walk down their neighborhood without the fear of being chased or their dogs being attacked," Gates said.

The dog ordinance, which includes licensing all dogs and some restrictions on pit bulls, will go before the full court quorum next week. If passed, it could become law in three months.

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