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Howard: Vicious animal law is 95 percent finished

September 6, 2011

By CARL SMITH
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing regarding the development of a countywide vicious animal ordinance at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 13, in the Oktibbeha County Courthouse.
Board President Marvell Howard said supervisors are already close to finishing a draft of the ordinance and should be able to vote on the matter in its recess meeting Sept. 15.
“We’re probably 95 percent complete with developing a vicious animal ordinance,” he said. “We intentionally haven’t finished it so we can get input during the public hearing. Unless major changes need to take place after we receive public input, I think we should be ready to move forward.”
Howard said he did not want to release specifics about the resolution’s draft, but he said it does include specific language which will define what constitutes a vicious animal. He said the definitions would classify an animal as vicious if it attacks a person or demonstrates an outward, aggressive demeanor.
“It’s going to have several different things. If an animal does one of those things, (including attacking a person), it will be classified as such,” Howard said. “We do need to specify if a dog is protecting an owner’s property, then it’s not vicious.”
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said the potential ordinance would put the responsibility of an aggressive animal on the owner’s shoulders.
“In my mind, I think a vicious animal is one that is basically uncontrollable to the point it doesn’t have obedience or respect of command from its owner,” Trainer said. “If a dog is uncontrollable, then its owners cannot calm or restrain it.”
On Sunday, Trainer said the potential ordinance could enter the county into a formal, working agreement with Starkville Animal Control. This working relationship, he said, would take the burden of handling vicious animal cases off of the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department.
Supervisors have discussed the need for a vicious animal ordinance since an Aug. 13 mauling injured two children. Deputies were dispatched to 2796 Self Creek Road that day after a 911 call was placed. The caller, Katie Riehle, told dispatchers her children had been bitten by a neighbor’s dogs.
When deputies arrived, they found two children, ages 4 and 10 years old, with multiple injuries. Both children were transported to Oktibbeha County Hospital, and the oldest was later transported to Jackson’s University Medical Center.
A deputy shot and killed a pit bull which approached him in an aggressive manner after the attack. Rich McKee, a member of Starkville Animal Control, was dispatched to the scene and took custody of four other pit bulls.
Three of the pit bulls were scheduled for euthanization yesterday, but a scheduling conflict postponed the procedure to today, McKee said.

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