City of Etowah proposes pit bull ban within city limits

City of Etowah proposes pit bull ban within city limits

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"You don't know how a strange dog will act around children," said Bohannon. "You don't know how a strange dog will act around children," said Bohannon.
"Our group and other supporters just feel like it won't help with the problems the city is having," said Leslie Woody. "Our group and other supporters just feel like it won't help with the problems the city is having," said Leslie Woody.
When not leashed or muzzled, the ordinance specifies that any pit bull be confined indoors or a locked in a pen or kennel. When not leashed or muzzled, the ordinance specifies that any pit bull be confined indoors or a locked in a pen or kennel.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

ETOWAH (WATE) - A McMinn County town wants to make it illegal to own any breed of pit bull, including mixed breeds, within city limits.  

The Etowah City Commission passed the first reading of the ordinance unanimously in September and the final vote will take place in late October.  

In the ordinance, the definition of a pit bull is broad. It includes Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bulls and American Staffordshire terriers, as well as any dog that has the characteristics of being of the pit bull breed.

The ordinance defines "predominantly" as more than 50% pit bull.

Etowah resident Laura Bohannon fears her children will be attacked by a pit bull. She lives next to a home where several of the dogs are kept in the yard.

"It's a little scary when you have children," said Bohannon. "You don't know how a strange dog will act around children."

Although there's been no attack, Bohannon said the dogs got loose one time.

"It was on our yard. It was across the street in our yard. It was kind of running amok all over," she said.    

Bohannon complained to city officials, and shortly thereafter the Etowah City Commission passed a first reading of the ordinance to ban pit bulls.

The ordinance claims the dogs are "dangerous to humans and other animals" and have "a tendency to attack" those who aren't provoked.  

Current owners will be allowed to keep their dogs, but those owners will be required to register their dog with the city and muzzle them when out in public.

When not leashed or muzzled, the ordinance specifies that any pit bull be confined indoors or a locked in a pen or kennel. Owners must also post a "beware of dog" sign on their property.

In addition, all offspring born of pit bull dogs within the city limits must be removed from the city within six weeks of the birth of such an animal, according to the ordinance.  

"Our group and other supporters just feel like it won't help with the problems the city is having," said Leslie Woody, founder of Break the Chains, a pit bull rescue located in Madisonville.

Woody said she plans to ask city leaders not to ban pit bulls. She fears the ordinance could lead to more pit bulls being euthanized.  

Woody said a stronger leash law, including higher fines to owners with dogs that run loose, would help more than a complete ban.

"It boils down to responsibility. People don't watch their children, it's with any big dog, with any dog. People should be supervised around any type of pet, " Woody said.  

Some residents think a pit bull ban is far too reaching.  

"I think it's ridiculous, totally ridiculous. Why are you going to just pick on pit bulls? There are other dogs that are just as mean," said Sandy Craine, an Etowah resident.    

The city said the dogs would be seized and removed from the city of an owner violates the rule. 

6 News contacted Etowah's mayor and city commissioners, but they didn't get back to us or didn't want to talk about this story.

The final ordinance will be read at Etowah's next city commission meeting on October 22.    

The town of Jefferson City has an ordinance against pit bulls and the town of Dandridge backed off a similar ordinance in 2009.  

In 2010, an 85-year-old woman was mauled to death by a pit bull in Etowah.

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