Local governments can still have vicious dog ordinances

[private]Legislation that would have prevented local governments from enacting ordinances to ban specific breeds of dogs – such as pit bulls – was put down by a House committee Tuesday.

A Governmental Affairs subcommittee declined to take a vote on HB 124, which effectively killed the bill for this session.

“I consider the case closed,” said Rep. John Yates (R-Griffin), the bill’s sponsor.

HB 124 would have prohibited city and county governments from passing any ordinance “for the regulation of domestic dogs that classifies based on breed.” That would have made it illegal for local governments to ban pit bulls or other types of dogs that endanger citizens.

The bill was opposed by lobbyists from the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), who said the legislation would have made it impossible for their governments to deal with local public safety issues.

“What comes next?” asked Todd Edwards of ACCG. “No leash laws? No tethering laws? No laws requiring neutering and spaying? You’ve got to let the counties do their jobs.”

“It comes down to a question of, who makes the decision?” said the GMA’s Tom Gehl. “Should it be the state legislature or the city and county governments that actually have to deal with the problem?”

Several local governments have adopted vicious dog ordinances to deal with canines that attack and maul people. Gehl said the only city government with an ordinance that specifically bans pit bulls is Lawrenceville in Gwinnett County.

The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla), the former mayor of Camilla, and the members were sympathetic to the need to control dangerous animals.

“We actually lost a child to a vicious dog attack,” said Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville).

HB 124 is one of several bills introduced this session that would enact a statewide standard or prohibition that eliminates local control over an issue.

Legislators are considering other bills that would prevent local governments from banning the use of plastic bags (SB 139), moving monuments or statues (HB 50), enforcing moratoriums on structures like cellphone towers (SB 142), or regulating public swimming pools (HB 219).

© 2015 by The Georgia Report
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Tags: ACCG , dangerous dogs , Darlene Taylor , GMA , Jay Powell , local governments , pit bulls