On Tuesday, Councilman Bobby Richardson, chairman of the council's Animal Control Committee, laid out some of the basics of the new ordinance, which would go into effect immediately upon its approval.
It's not about picking on a particular breed, Richardson said, as he explained the new requirements for Altus dog owners. It does, however, target aggressive dogs, whatever their breed.
On March 8, the council took up the animal control issue, trying to come up with a way to deal with constant attacks by pit bulls on animal control officers as well as citizens in town. That meeting was attended by several pit bull owners who adamantly defended their dogs and pleaded for fairness.
The new ordinance sets forth new regulations that dog owners will need to get accustomed to.
First of all, any dog over the age of six months must be registered annually at a cost of $5 for a spayed or neutered dog, $10 if it's not spayed or neutered. To register a dog, the owner will have to show proof of current rabies vaccination. And owners will have to make sure their dog sports the tag on its collar or harness at all times. Service animals or animals temporarily brought into the city would not be required to be registered.
The additional $5 paid for non-spayed/non-neutered dogs would be deposited into the city's Spayed and Neutered Fund.
During the school year, only people 18 and older will be permitted to walk a dog, on a leash, within 300 feet of a public school or in a public park adjacent to school property.
This stipulation is in response to reports of dogs getting loose from their owners and presenting a danger to children on school grounds. "I think if we can keep one person from getting hurt or a little boy from losing an arm, I can take the heat on this request here," Richardson said.
The new ordinance sets regulations for "potentially dangerous dogs" and "dangerous dogs" and prohibits the presence of dogs, cats and other animals at public events, with the exception of service dogs. It also prohibits the sale of dogs on street corners or commercial parking lots without a permit
Councilman Donald Jouett said Tuesday night, "If you're a responsible person with your ... whether it's a pit bull or a Chihuahua or something ... as long as you're a responsible person, you should not have any problems with these new laws."
The ordinance is still in draft form and is expected to be completed and placed on the agenda for the council's approval on Aug. 2.
"This not a done deal," Richardson said.