Magnolia City Council members said Monday that they want more public input before imposing new rules on owners of pit bulldogs.

The council heard the second of three required readings of the ordinance on Monday, which says that by allowing convicted felons to own or possess a pit bull or vicious dog is a nuisance and a hazard. It also says that there is a need “to keep convicted felons from owning or possessing pit bulls or vicious dogs in the City of Magnolia, Arkansas, much like the prohibition of owning a firearm, as both can be used as weapons against the citizens of this city.”

Passage of the ordinance would amend Magnolia Code as follows:

“Any person who has been convicted of a felony under the laws of the United States, of the state of Arkansas, or any other state, government, or country, is prohibited from owning, purchasing, receiving, harboring, keeping, or being in possession of or having under his or her custody or control a dog that poses a danger to the public's health, safety or welfare, or any dog defined as vicious by Section 4-29, including but not limited to pit bulls. A person who violates this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not less than $500. A convicted felon under this article shall not include felons whose convictions were set aside.”

Councilman James Moore called for a meeting of the Council’s Animal Control Committee, which is chaired by Councilwoman Margie Russ.

Moore said he has visited with dog owners.

“I not only think that this is profiling the ex-con, but it is also profiling the owners of pit bulls,” Moore said. “I truly feel this is unfair.”

Russ said she would call a meeting of the committee, which includes Councilmen Larry Talley and Rodney Peterson.

No one has made comments to her about the proposal, Russ said.

“I really think this needs to be discussed,” Russ said. “I need to know more about it.”

“I do know there’s a dog problem. I don’t know if it’s bulldogs, but there are a lot of dogs that are vicious around my house that are being turned loose at night. They’re not really bulldogs, but there are some big, bad dogs and I’m afraid to go out at night,” Russ said.

Mayor Parnell Vann, who introduced the proposal last month, said that when problems “are bigger than me, I bring them to you guys. This council passes the laws of this city.”

“We have repeat offenders that (animal control officer David Cushman) has in court that he cites for not upholding the city ordinance we currently have. This is a great breed of dog, but it’s in the hands of the wrong people,” Vann said.

“We do have a problem, but I don’t think we’re addressing the problem the right way. We’re punishing the dog and the good dog owner,” Moore said.

“I think it’s unfair to some convicted felons who are good people who have made mistakes, to go back and punish them,” he said.

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