Pit bull proposal gets sharp reaction pro, con Aldermen inundated about tough legislation

October 05, 1998|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Annapolis city council members are being inundated with electronic mail from critics and supporters of a bill that would make it more difficult for city residents to own pit bulls.

The bill would require pit bull owners to be at least age 25 and carry $500,000 in liability insurance. They also would have to pay registration fees and report the birth of puppies.

Reaction to the bill has been intense since its introduction Sept. 14 by Aldermen Cynthia A. Carter and Ellen O. Moyer.

"We have received so much mail about this," said Carter, a Ward 6 Democrat. "But we are going to pass this law, maybe with a few amendments, but we will pass it, I assure you."

Demetrios N. Fotos, a city resident, wrote that the council "should focus on abusers and not responsible citizens who have dogs."

Amanda Pillsbury, another city resident, wrote, "These dogs are a real threat to children, to animals and they are living a life of abuse. We need to put some strong laws into place and enforce them now."

The city council will hold a public hearing on the measure at 7 p.m. today.

Recent pit bull attacks in Annapolis and across the state -- as well as increasing reports of dogfighting in the county -- prompted Moyer and Carter, a Ward 8 Democrat, to draft the legislation.

The Annapolis measure follows efforts in other localities to enact laws that make it easier to confiscate problem dogs and protect residents. Annapolis' law, if passed, would be one of the toughest because of the age and insurance requirements.

While most other localities have laws allowing abused or vicious dogs to be confiscated, Annapolis would go a step further by restricting a breed. The law would require owners to pay a $100 registration fee to police within 48 hours of ownership and provide a photo of the animal.

Owners also would have to provide proof of liability insurance and keep the dog in a building or kennel or muzzled and restrained in the owner's absence.

The bill carries penalties of a $250 fine for the first offense and $300 for repeat offenses. It defines pit bulls as Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and American pit bull terriers.

"It is unfair and discriminatory," wrote Victor Chudowsky, who said he lives just outside Annapolis. "We own an American Staffordshire terrier. We are not drug dealers or dog fighters.

"Rest assured we will contribute to the campaigns of your opponents if you support this unfair measure," Chudowsky wrote.

Pub Date: 10/05/98

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