Texas state law (Texas Health & Safety Code §822.047) prohibits breed-specific ordinances. Garland, TX, has recently instituted breed-specific fencing requirements for “pit bulls.” However, it does not appear to be officially codified in the city’s ordinances; at the moment, they are calling this an “ordinance-based directive.”
Garland is attempting to “sweeten the deal”–perhaps to quiet objections–by saying that because of this ordinance, they can now start adopting out “pit bulls” from their animal shelter, something which they refused to do in the past. Yet, finding good homes for pit bulls is done elsewhere in Texas on a regular basis without the need for breed-specific ordinances, and without the need to discriminate against all “pit bull” owners in the city.
If secure fences are important for “pit bull” ownership, it is because they are important for dog ownership in general; all dog owners should be held to the same requirements and should be expected to provide the same standards of care for their dogs. There is no legitimate reason why “pit bull” owners should be required to have secure fences while owners of other breeds or types of dogs are not required to have the same.
Please note it is unclear what, if anything, city council members know about this directive. Please direct primary correspondence to the creators of this directive: Jason Chessher (Deputy Director of Health) and Diana Oats (Animal Services Manager). Correspondence to city council should be made with the consideration that council members may not be well-informed about the directive.
The Animal Services Advisory Committee has been working on this directive. Next public meeting of the committee: 12:30 PM on Friday, July 16, 2010 in the City Council Work Session Room at City Hall, 200 N. 5th St.
Contact information for city officials:
Jason Chessher, Deputy Director of Health, JChesshe@ci.garland.tx.us
Diana Oats, Animal Services Manager, DOats@ci.garland.tx.us
Mayor Ronald Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org
Douglas Athas, email@example.com
Laura Perkins Cox, firstname.lastname@example.org
Preston Edwards, email@example.com
Larry Jeffus, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Willis, email@example.com
Barbara Chick, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Williams, email@example.com
Darren Lathen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fencing Requirement for Pit Bull Dogs
Complete directive language:
News Release sent May 24, 2010
Garland, Texas – May 24, 2010 — Garland Animal Services is preparing to enforce new fencing requirements for pit bull dogs or pit bull crossbreeds. Pit bull dogs or crossbreeds thereof have been responsible for the most dog bites since statistics have been kept (2004). Additionally, 27% of the dogs caught while running at large are pit bull dogs. In response to this growing public safety problem, Garland Animal Services has developed an ordinance based directive that requires owners of pit bull dogs to maintain the animals within a six foot fence.
Specifically, the fence must meet the following requirements:
- The fence must be six feet tall, measured from the ground.
- The fence must be constructed of wooden planks at least ½ inch thick or 11 gage chain link fencing.
- There may be no gaps or openings larger than 2 inches.
- Fencing must be firmly attached to brace posts buried no less than 18 inches deep.
- All gates must have a locking mechanism that keeps the gates securely closed.
These directive requirements become effective August 1, 2010.
Pit bull dog owners are exempt from the aforementioned requirements if their dogs are properly registered prior to August 1, 2010 and if they maintain compliance with all applicable Animal Service Ordinances such as the display of city tags and not allowing the dogs to run at large. Pit bull dogs not registered prior to August 1, 2010 must be maintained within an enclosure that meets these requirements. Owners who obtain pit bull dogs after August 1st must consider the cost of fence construction as a cost of owning a pit bull dog.