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Ordinance on dangerous dogs being considered

The Logan County Quorum Court is considering an ordinance that would prohibit owning or housing a “dangerous dog” by county residents and put restrictions on those who now own a “dangerous dog.”

The measure was read and approved in 5-4 vote for the first time at the Monday, March 10 Quorum Court meeting held at the Logan County Courthouse in Paris. JPs present and voting to approve the ordinance were Ken Hart, Joyce Koch, Charles Pearson, Mike Schluterman and Denny Stone. Those voting no were Jeannie Andrews, Eddie Finney, Bob Kreps and Lindel Parsons. Quorum Court member Don Rogers was absent.

The Quorum Court has 10 members since JP Charlie Reames resigned, effective March 1. Reames resigned because he moved out of his district and Gov. Mike Beebe has yet to name a replacement.

A second reading is scheduled on Monday, April 14 at the Logan County Courthouse in Booneville. A third and final reading is expected in May. An ordinance has to be passed three times and signed by the County Judge before it becomes law.

Under the proposal, a dangerous dog is defined as one that “exhibits aggressive or dangerous behavior that could result in severe injury or harm to any person or domestic animal or that has bitten any person or dangerous animal. Those who own a “dangerous dog” when the ordinance is passed would not be required to get rid of the dog but would face certain requirements to continue keeping the dog.

Those include:

• Posting a sign easily read from the road advising that a “dangerous dog” is being kept on the premises;”

• The animal must be kept in a securely enclosed and locked pen at least six feet tall. The sides and top must be secure and the sides must be embedded into the ground to a “sufficient depth” that the dog can’t escape;

• The animal can also be kept inside a enclosed, habitable structure — such as a house — only if the windows and doors are closed;

• If the dog is not in an enclosed facility, the dog must be kept on a secure, strong leash, be properly muzzled and handled only by those 18 and above and strong enough to “keep proper control” of the dog.

Violations of the ordinance will be a Class A misdemeanor punishable by not more than one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Logan County Judge Gus Young said last week that the idea for the ordinance came from the Logan County Sheriff’s Department.

“Eight to 10 months ago, a deputy had issues with a dog bothering walkers,” Sheriff Steve Smith said. “The dogs were pretty aggressive. Basically what we want is, if a vicious dog, regardless of breed, bites someone, we have recourse to give them a ticket. This isn’t about taking someone’s dog and we’re not interested in having a dog pound in the county.”

Young said JPs voting no on the first reading had a major concern.

“The concern is that we may be getting close to getting into the animal control business, which is something the county can’t afford,” Young said.

The ordinance being considered is similar to one in effect in Paris.

Also at the meeting, JPs passed a resolution declaring a vacancy in the District 5 seat on the Quorum Court. The seat was held by Reames until he resigned.

JPs also sent a letter to Gov. Mike Beebe recommending that he appoint Robin Ellington of Paris to serve the remainder of Reames’ term, which expires Dec. 31. Ellington was recommended by Reames, Young said. John O’Brien of Paris is seeking the seat in the November general election and he is unopposed.

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