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IN-Elkhart County Pit bull ban meeting delayed


Posted: Aug 31, 2009 10:30 AM CDT

The Elkhart County Common Council has pushed back a discussion on whether or not to adopt a pit pull or breed-specific ban within the Elkhart city limits.

Last month, a 4-year-old Elkhart girl was bitten in the face by a pit bull. This and other recent attacks prompted the council to look at a proposal that would ban pit bulls and pit bull crossbreeds. Earlier this month, the council decided to advance the discussion to the public health and safety committee.

The discussion, which should include veterinarians, Humane Society representatives, and the general public, was originally scheduled to take place at the Monday, August 31st council meeting. That discussion has been rescheduled to take place at two sessions: Thursday, September 3rd at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, September 8th at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at Elkhart City Hall.



Residents feud over possible pit bull ban

Posted: Sep 03, 2009 9:31 PM CDT

A heated debate over man’s best friend has Elkhart dog lovers divided. A proposed ordinance that would ban pit bulls in city limits brought out a large crowd to the Elkhart council chambers Thursday night. The city held the first of two public hearings on the proposal. The ordinance would make it illegal for Elkhart residents to own pit bulls.

About 150 people came out to voice their opinions on the possible ordinance before the council. The two main voices were those who say pit bulls are aggressive and dangerous breeds, and those who say it’s the owners, not the dogs, who are to blame.

There is a grandfather clause in the ordinance that would allow pit bull owners to keep the dogs they currently own. But they would have to jump through a lot of hoops within 180 days of when the law takes effect. Those hoops include getting at least $300,000 in insurance coverage, micro-chipping the dog, using a muzzle in public and a few other regulations. It’s unclear exactly how each council member will ultimately vote, and how much public opinion will sway their final decisions.

We met up with two women who hope to help sway that public opinion. The women have very different views.

After hearing about the new city ordinance that would ban pit bulls, Lori Egert, a vicitim of a pit bull attack, decided she would tell the council her story. “He could have torn off my nose, or what if he didn’t get my nose and he got my eye or my throat?â€

Egert is a U.S. Mail carrier and was attacked by a pit bull two years ago in front of a house in Elkhart while on her mail delivery route.

When describing the moment of the attack, Egert said “I think I was in shock; I didn’t feel pain.â€

But the attack did more than just cause nerve damage to Egert’s nose.

“Emotionally it’s been a nightmare. I would see a puppy I would see it and I would be very emotional and very stressed. I didn’t have anxiety before I was attacked, but I have anxiety now,†said Egert.

But Pit Bull Rescue Owner Leslee Smith says that pit bulls aren’t to blame.

“The breed is not innately aggressive what so ever,†said Smith. She says owners breed aggressive dogs, and “Irresponsibility from an owner can turn a dog aggressive– any dog– because they’re animals.â€

Through her shelter Smith takes in pit bulls and rehabs them so they can be healthy, adoptable dogs. She says the ordinance is just playing into the stigma that all pit bulls are dangerous.

“It should be aimed toward all dog owners no matter what dog you have, if you have an Akita, a Sheperd, a Rottweiler,†said Smith.

Egert isn’t sure where she stands on the ordinance. She says that while banning pit bulls may be a start, it doesn’t address the aggression of all breeds.

“People always say my dog won’t bite. Your dog has teeth, it can bite,†said Egert.

You can voice your opinion at the next public meeting. That’s slated for Tuesday at 6:30 PM right here at City Hall. Following that meeting, the city council will vote on whether to enact the pit bull ban or otherwise revise the current animal control laws.

Reporter: Nadia Crow





Committee discusses Elkhart pit bull ban

Posted: Sep 15, 2009 7:48 PM CDT

Elkhart continues to debate a proposed ban on pit bulls.

A nine-person committee got together for the first time Tuesday night to discuss the proposal. The committee includes people on both sides of the issue.

As written, the original proposal would ban pit bulls within city limits, but grandfather in current pit bull owners provided they meet certain requirements like muzzling their dogs and getting $300,000 worth of insurance.

But some committee members hope the ordinance will be changed so it doesn’t single out one breed.

“It’s nice being here to educate some people on the board trying to come up with a better ordinance for the city that’s not breed specific,†said pit bull breeder Austin Kemery.

“Everything is on the table,†said City Council president Rod Roberson. “The ordinance is currently specific in language around pit bulls. And we will talk about that as a committee as to whether or not to keep it or to amend it, revise it or remove it all together.â€

The committee is scheduled to meet three more times and will give its recommendations to the City Council by November 1. A vote could come in mid-November.



Elkhart pit bull committee meets

Posted: 11:29 PM Sep 15, 2009
Reporter: Brandon Lewis
Email Address: Brandon.Lewis@wndu.com

Members of an animal control ordinance committee met Tuesday evening to discuss a proposed ban on pit bulls, among other changes to animal control laws.

The nine person ad hoc committee did not hear any public comment, and is not required to hear any additional comments beyond those already expressed at previous council committee meetings.

Mayor Dick Moore greeted the committee, but also ensured they understood what their role would be in this ordinance.

“I felt I must address the committee this evening to be sure the committee does not waste time on drafting or suggesting an ordinance that goes beyond the reality of what government can actually provide,†said Moore. “This issue was not, is not, bite driven. This issue is attack driven.â€

During the initial introductions, some members of the committee expressed their opinion on the proposed ordinance as it was already written, or expressed their opinion on pit bulls.

“I combat on anywhere from one, if I’m lucky, to on a bad day 15 vicious dogs,†said committee member Kevin Sturgis.

All said they were willing to maintain an open mind during the meetings.

“Its up to the process to work its way though, to determine how we weed through that info, and hopefully the bias-ness will be held at a minimum and the data and the facts will be brought forward,†said council president and committee member Rod Roberson.

“The important piece is are we all willing to listen?so that we do come up with something that is enforceable meaning full, that’s respectful of good pet owners,†said Elkhart Humane Society director Anne Reel. Reel is also serving on the committee.

Roberson said he worked to select members from different professions that could be impacted by the ordinance.

The committee established an aggressive schedule, and hopes to have a final recommendation by November 1st. It will meet next on October 6th.

Indiana will establish a weaker animal control ordinance on January 1st. According to state law, a city may not create a stricter ordinance once a state law has been put into effect.

The council and mayor must approve the ordinance before December 31st in order for it to get grandfathered in, otherwise Elkhart must abide by state law.



Proposed ban on Pitbulls not ready for approval yet

Updated: 6:58 PM Oct 28, 2009

Proposed ban on Pitbulls not ready for approval yet
Elkhart, IN

A new animal ordinance for Elkhart that started as a proposed ban on Pitbulls isn't ready to go yet.

Posted: 5:03 PM Oct 28, 2009

A new animal ordinance for Elkhart that started as a proposed ban on Pitbulls isn't ready to go yet.

A committee of experts has been studying the issue for a month.

The committee was originally scheduled to present new legislation to the city council early next week, but, according to our reporting partners at The Elkhart Truth, the nine-member commission needs more time.

After four meetings, the group has made its way through two-thirds of a 30-page draft, including a section on licensing and restraining vicious and dangerous dogs.

The committee plans to meet twice next week and hopes to have a draft of the ordinance ready for the public soon after those sessions.

The group still hasn't discussed a possible ban of specific breeds, like Pitbulls.