Dog owners respond to Etowah's proposed pit bull ban
MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Ten years ago Pit Bulls like King could not call the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga home, even if it was temporary. "In our shelter alone we did not adopt them out, they were euthanized here," says Executive Director Guy Bilyeu.
When Bilyeu took charge in 2003 things changed. He refused to stereotype power breeds like the Pit Bull as aggressive and violent.
"If you want to know the worst animals for biting and things like that, they're going to be Chihuahuas, Jack Russell Terriers, the little guys," explains Bilyeu.
He says Hamilton County has made huge strides in protecting and caring for dogs like King. "We have the only felony conviction for pit bull fighting, so they know we're serious about it," Bilyeu says.
However, other cities don't see it the same way, at least not yet. In McMinn County, Etowah is moving to ban the Pit Bull breed within city limits.
"It'd be like giving up one of our kids," says dog owner Sherri Cooper. The ordinance didn't sit well with Cooper and her Pit Bull Rocky.
"I was very angry that somebody could actually think that my dog was viscous and mean, aggressive and would end up biting a kid," says Cooper.
She helped organized a march to support Pit Bulls. She says she doesn't like one breed being targeted when it's not the dog's fault. "It's not the dog it's the owners who own the dog that make the dog mean," Cooper says.
"You cannot legislate out problems in your community. You need to be very direct with those problems and train your judges and shelters on how to deal with those problems," Bilyeu says.
Etowah Councilman Burke Garwood admits he's had a change of heart since he voted for the first reading nearly two weeks ago and says the ordinance went further than he thought.
Cooper can only hope he keeps his word. "Stop the proposal, go and research some information about the breed," Cooper says.
Etowah city officials will vote on the second and last reading of the Pit Bull ban Monday.