Albany Georgia tables breed discriminatory ordinance

Following the first vote, in which a strict breed discriminatory law was passed in Albany Georgia, support from officials began to wane.

If the proposal had been passed unanimously, officials could have waived the second reading and passed the proposal in one night.  The vote came in at one short of unanimous and was scheduled for the next vote.

This began the back slide of support for the proposal.  Many in the community and from organizations dealing with these issues began reaching out to the commission to express opposition to BDL and offer alternatives to the proposal between the first and second meetings.

There were several issues being raised, from the difficulty of enforcement, to concerns that the ordinance as drafted was to going to be too much of a financial burden on people.

After that first vote, the council had 2 new members take their seats.  Both of these council members were opposed to the proposal.  “Commissioner Coleman and Ward III Commissioner B. J. Fletcher took office after the ordinance was introduced.  Neither likes the existing proposal because of cost to owners and questions about enforcement.”  Additionally, Fletcher stated that any law they enact should be “concise” so that it is able to be enforced.

One council person felt that the ordinance should be passed and then revisited to be amended later on.  Jon Howard said there should be changes made to the proposal but wanted to pass something first and make changes when they see what is and what is not working.

At the last meeting, the final vote was to be held, but instead the commission voted to table the proposal.  Usually when a proposal is tabled, a date is set for it to be considered again.  This is not the case in Albany.  There was no discussion whether this would be considered again, and when that may be.  According to news reports, the commissioners are considering the proposal dead at this time.

This does not mean that the proposal is dead, however.  Until it is officially killed off, the proposal is still possible in the future.

Two council members are staunchly for a breed discriminatory law.  Additionally, one is for a breed discriminatory law because he knows of backyard breeders and some how thinks that the proposal will end that.

There are several important things to note about Albany’s Animal Control.  They do not have their own facility and pay the local humane society to house dogs.  This proposal would put an extreme burden of both the finances of the city, as well as the finances of the local Humane Society.

Records are not kept in any adequate way.  The commissioners had used the statistic that there were 48 bites attributed to “pit bulls” in 2013.  These are both animal and human combined.  The most recent census data from Albany puts the population in 2012 at just over 77,400.  There was no other data supplied about the numbers of other bites, though the indication is that there are many other bites that need to be addressed in the city and the 48 is a minority of incidents.

Georgia had passed a state level dangerous dog law that dealt with many issues some time ago, which was supposed to have been incorporated into the local municipalities by now.  Albany has not yet done so.  In fact, though there is a breed neutral dangerous dog law on the books, there is no classification for a potentially dangerous dog, nor is there any particular nuance or deterrent in the current ordinance.

Groups in the area are working to change this, so that Albany can strengthen the dangerous dog laws and be able to address the real cause of dangerous dogs in the community and come into compliance with the state law.

One group, Stubby’s Heroes, has provided substantial information to address the various issues being experienced by the community.  They have offered breed neutral alternatives and are working to bring in those who can help Albany comply with state law.

At this point, there will be no breed discriminatory law in Albany.  The situation still bears watching into the future.  The best bet will be for officials to enact one of the alternatives offered so that all dangerous dogs in the community are addressed, and responsible owners aren’t penalized for the actions of the few.

Thank you Jo for the information and update regarding this issue.

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