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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2007
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Commission to discuss dangerous dog law at work session

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — Lawrence County Attorney Cecil Caine said there are four ways the county can pass legislation to protect residents from dangerous dogs.

Commissioners have been discussing the issue since April, when Animal Control Officer Carolyn Atchison said she didn't have the authority to impound aggressive dogs or reprimand owners. She asked the commission to consider a local act to protect citizens from attacks.

Commissioners said Monday they are not sure what the best route or legislation would be at this time, and agreed to a work session to discuss the matter June 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Chairman Mose Jones said he will invite the legislative delegation and that concerned residents and animal experts are invited to attend.

Caine said the commission may not have to pass a local law if the state passes a dangerous dog bill next year. The bill has been introduced in the past four regular sessions, but has never made it out of committee.

Another option is to adopt a countywide leash law, but Caine didn't recommend that.

"Most people are opposed to it, and I don't know of any other counties that have done it, but that's one tool that you absolutely have," he said.

If commissioners are able to decide what kind of law would most benefit the county, they could also go the "traditional way," said Caine, and ask the legislative delegation to adopt a local act.

If commissioners went that route, it would be about 10 months before legislators could introduce the bill and at least a year before it would go into effect.

The commission would also be stuck with the act until the following year.

"The only problem is that whatever you send down there, it better work because you can't fix it until the next legislative session," said Caine.

The final option would be to adopt an ordinance like Mobile County did recently. The commission would have to agree to hold a countywide referendum, allowing residents from unincorporated areas to decide.

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