Shortly after Springdale aldermen approved amendments to an ordinance Tuesday night that would outlaw animals who show dangerous tendencies, area residents responded to the changes.
The Springdale City Council passed the much-discussed dangerous animals ordinance, six votes to two. The ordinance outlines what should be constituted as “dangerous animals” and how owners and the animals should be punished for violations.
The ordinance was passed by the city’s ordinance committee last week and recommended to the council.
Ordinance committee members had initially discussed the possibility of a breed-specific ban, after an alderman said he wanted pit bulls banned from the city after his dog was attacked. Alderman Mike Overton and the committee members later backed off of the request and said they did not want a breed-specific ban.
The ordinance states animals may be impounded or euthanized of they are determined to have bitten a person or another animal, or if they are suspected of carrying a disease transmittable to humans.
Aldermen speaking on the issue over the past month have focused on dogs as the subject of the ordinance, but the proposed ordinance instead makes “animals” the subject.
"I think it's good that they're not just being prejudice to one animal," said Tina Bell, a Springdale resident. "I think it's good they left it open to all animals."
Several exemptions are built into the ordinance, such as the provision that states animals shall be exempt if they are protecting offspring or a person. They would also be exempt if injured, responding to pain or tormented or abused. A person committing a crime or teasing the dog would also exempt the animal from any action by the city, the proposed ordinance states.
Police dogs are completely exempt from the proposal, the ordinance states.
The proposal outlines several ways action can be taken against offending dogs. A complaint by another person that an owner’s dog has bitten or attempted to bite a person or animal unprovoked would send the case to city court. If the animal is deemed to be dangerous in Springdale District Court, the animal would be taken from the owner and either impounded or euthanized.
A dog or other animal may also be impounded or euthanized based on a citation by police or animal services, followed by court action, according to the ordinance.
"I mean if a child gets into a fight and hurts another child, do we put them down? No, we keep them alive," Bell said. "I mean pets and animals are like family, so I don't think they should be euthanized."
Mary Wiley owns a black lab and said the new changes upset her.
"My dog is a part of our family and I can't imagine him just being gone," she said.
Wiley said there are better ways to handle dangerous animals than to euthanize them.
"I can't even fathom how they can think this is the best solution for anything," she said.
Mayor Doug Sprouse said the ordinance assures owners that their animals will not be taken without due process through the court system.
An owner may be fined up to $500 per day for failing to follow the ordinance.