Mayor Holds Final Public Meeting About Proposed Changes to Pet Ordinance

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FULTON - Mayor LeRoy Benton met with residents Wednesday evening for the third and final time about the proposed changes to the city's pet ordinance. The Pet Ordinance Committee will now discuss comments from the meetings, which the mayor says have been both positive and negative, and give the proposal to city council who will vote next month on whether to adopt the changes.

There are three main parts of the proposed changes. The first requires that pet owners register their dogs, cats, and ferrets. The registration will cost $10 if the animal is microchipped and neutered or spayed and $50 if it is not.

The proposal also changes the definition of a dangerous animal in the city. Under the new proposal, the a dangerous animal is one that meets at least one of these six criteria:

(1) Any animal which, according to the records of the police or animal control officer, has inflicted severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property;
(2) Any animal which bites or otherwise injures any person or domestic animal or pet;
(3) Any animal owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of animal fighting or any animal trained for animal fighting;
(4) Any dog, not owned by a governmental or law enforcement unit, used primarily to guard public or private property;
(5) Any animal which habitually snaps at, growls or otherwise manifests a disposition to bite, attack or injure any person or domestic animal or pet; or
(6) Any animal which causes any person to have a reasonable fear of immediate serious physical injury.

The final major change is the prohibition of the unsupervised tethering of animals. Two pit bull attacks in Fulton have led to the proposals. The third part of the ordinance is specifically targeted to prevent similar attacks in the future.

Melody Whitworth of Dogs Deserve Better advocated for the banning of tying up animals because both of the dogs involved in the attacks had been previously tied up for extended periods of time.

"Statistics prove over and over again being tied up for an extended period of time causes aggression in dogs and is the number one reason for bite cases," Whitworth says.

If the proposed changes are passed by city council next month, the new rules will go into effect in January of next year.