Society

Breed-Specific Pit Bull Ordinance Introduced in New Orleans Suburb after Vicious Mauling of Linda Henry

| by Denise A Justin
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On Monday night, City Councilman Glenn Green introduced his promised ordinance to strengthen the existing Pit Bull law in Westego, Louisiana, at the meeting of the Westwego City Council. The first ordinance was enacted in 2000 after a 2-year-old boy was fatally mauled by his family's pit bull in their backyard just outside Westwego city limits. Westwego is in Jefferson Parish, which is a suburb of New Orleans.

This time Green proposed an even more stringent law in response to the savage mauling of Linda Henry, 54, who was attacked by three of her own four pit bulls inside her home on March 13, 2013. She lost an eye, an ear and much of her scalp in the attack, and the dogs chewed her arms so severely that doctors amputated them. Linda and her boyfriend had raised the Pit Bulls in their home since they were puppies. Westwego police officers were forced to shoot and kill all four dogs when they attacked the officers who responded to rescue the woman at 341 Avenue A, only a block from Westwego City Hall, about 3:30 p.m.

In a Chamber filled to capacity on Monday evening, Councilman Green introduced his proposal as a procedural matter, called the "first reading," at which time it is set for a public hearing and vote at the July 8 council meeting. Public input will be accepted until that time, Green said. "I'm getting a lot of calls, and I really expect everybody's opinion on this," he told The Times Picayune.

The proposed ordinance, written by City Attorney Joel Levy, would require pit bull owners to get a license from the city; owners would have to be 21 or older; and they would have to maintain at least $100,000 in liability coverage through their homeowner's or renter's insurance. Owners would also have to post warning signs outside their homes.

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A Pit Bull is defined as “an American pit bull terrier, an American Staffordshire terrier, a Staffordshire bull terrier or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits or genetic markers of any one or more of the above breeds." DNA testing would be done to determine whether the dog fits the description, the proposal states.

Penalties for attacks by such a dog could include a fine of at least $500 and no more than six months in jail. Unless the owner can prove that the dog has been given to someone outside the city, the dog could be euthanized, according to the report.

The proposal is not available for public review at City Hall; but Councilman Green announced that interested parties can access it through him at City Hall. "If they ask for a copy, I'll give it to them," he said.

He said the ordinance is aimed at Pit Bull owners, not the dogs themselves. "I don't want people to think I'm singling out dogs," he said. "If you control your animal, you shouldn't have a problem."

Read Also: Tough New Laws Proposed After Pit Bull Owner Linda Henry Loses Eye, Ear and Both Arms in Attack

Source: Times Picayune