Board barks at ban; Officer suggests banning pit bulls

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, November 12, 2014

VIDALIA An appeal by a city police officer to ban pit bull dogs in the city limits was met by apparently unreceptive ears at the Vidalia Board of Aldermen’s meeting Monday.

Vidalia Police Department Humane and Code Enforcement Officer Neil Mohan brought the request to the board, saying 36 of the dogs are in one school zone alone.

“We need to do something to protect these children,” Mohan said. “Most of these dogs are for one thing and one thing only. The majority of these dogs are aggressive dogs, and they are fighting.”

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The pit bull breed is one of the most polarizing among observers of canines, with some saying the dogs are vicious and are dangerous to be around, while others say the breed is naturally sweet and has been misrepresented in popular portrayal.

Alderman Tron McCoy bristled at the idea of a pit bull ban, saying he has two of the dogs, and the animals are well maintained.

When Mohan asked the board to consider what could happen if a pit bull bites a student at Vidalia Junior High School, McCoy responded that any dog could fit in that scenario.

“What happens if a poodle does? All of them have teeth,” he said. “I’ve got a wiener dog, but he’s a hell of a lot meaner than my pit bull dog.”

McCoy took the discussion from the theoretical to the personal, noting he’d visited Mohan’s residence before and seen a dog there — a Rottweiler — “that nearly ate me up.”

Mohan responded he had gotten rid of the dog because it was aggressive.

Alderman Ricky Stevens suggested the city find a compromise and instead require all dogs to wear rabies tags, which would mean they were evaluated for demeanor — among other things — at a veterinarian’s office every year.

City attorney Jack McLemore said if the board enacted a ban it wouldn’t be required to grandfather in existing dogs if the ban was done in the name of public safety.

Mohan noted cities larger than Vidalia had banned the animals in the past.

When the discussion appeared not to make any significant progress, McLemore suggested the board form a committee and look for some common ground on the issue.

But at the end of the meeting, the aldermen had not done so and had let the discussion die without action.

In other news, the board voted to award a $99,057 bid to W.E. Blain and Sons for improvements to Advocate Row.