Wed
Jan 23 2008
09:09 am

And you, too, James, Grover, James, and Dudley!

I know several of the Rockwood Councilmen and, to a person, they are good people trying to give back to their community. I know they want to do the right thing...But banning one kind of dog just isn't it!

Pit Bull's aren't even the most dangerous dogs!

A RoaneViews pat on the back to Rockwood City Councilman Dudley Evans for voting against a breed specific dog ban for Rockwood.

There is much more effective legislation that Rockwood can enact, that will protect our communities far better than the Pit Bull ban on the table at this point.

Here's the RCN article, which, by the way, is rather well done, inclusive of comments from both sides.

When the community comes in and offers a more effectively written piece of municipal code, our elected officials have to stop barreling down the wrong road and read the directions. And just because Harriman messed up, Rockwood doesn't have to enact the same wrong headed law.

So Councilmen...There is a better way. Let your constituents help you out on this one.

Way to go WhitesCreek!!! My

Way to go WhitesCreek!!! My question is why is the council so adamant in supporting Mayor Miller's proposal when it was very obvious no one has researched authoratative sources regarding canine aggression, dog bites and non-breed specific legislation. Instead, the council used sources on the Internet and pseudoscience/statistics gathered by the media who we all know is sensation driven when it comes to dog attacks. The Pit Bull Paparazzi is driving the hysteria of pit bulls. Perhaps a quote by Dorothy Thompson can best explain what was happening Monday night in Rockwood...

"There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyze the causes of happenings." (Dorothy Thompson 1894-1961)

For real statistics and analysis of canine aggression, look to the source of people such as Karen Delise of the National Canine Research Council. There's an excellent start to getting the real truth and solving the real problem which is not a dog, but people. The council was given a copy of her book "Fatal Dog Attacks, The Story Behind the Statistics." It is one of the most comprehensive study completed on fatal dog attacks in America and spans almost 50 years of data. Researcher Delise does not rely on media sources but instead utilizes the reports of such people as animal control officers, law enforcement, medical examiners, court proceedings, etc.

This author has offered to consult with Mayor Miller to answer questions and confirm data. To this date she has not received any contact from the Rockwood Mayor.

Time to Ponder...

I had a famliy emergency in GA and had to step out of the Rockwood City Council Meeting a few times on Monday, but overall I think I got a few points that might need to be aired. Being away for a day or so (I had to go to GA), I have had much time to think about what I learned from the Monday meeting (yes we must learn from even events we perceive as to have a negative outcome).

1) We are very fortunate to live in communities where our political representation still wants to protect the people. That was the major reason quoted by Mayor Miller and the Council on Monday. They wanted to do something to prevent a Pit Bull mauling in Rockwood. If the only mauling they want to protect Rockwood from is the Pit Bull mauling, they are on the right track. Yes, they have the potential to do more damage than the Jack Russell but not more damage than a Doberman or a Husky.

2) There were people there from all around Rockwood, but only 2 from Rockwood. One was for the ban, but admitted to owning a Doberman. The other was against and had several breeds of dogs, but not a Pit Bull. At first, this frustrated me so. I could not believe that not one Pit owner came out. Then I got to thinking. There are 2 types of Pit owner. One is the reason we have these problems and get stuck with bans. The other loves their dogs and looks at them as family members (and yes councilmen, for some as children). I tend to be pretty vocal about my opinions (I know that surprises some of you!) but what if I could not sell my home and move somewhere else? What if I lived alone, just me and my dog? What if I were poor or even middle class with a mortgage and a house of kids? What if I did not trust the council to do what was best for me? Would I come forward to let everyone know that I had a Pit? Would I take the chance that my dog would be identified as a result of my actions? Maybe that is why Rockwood Owners did not come forward.

3)Grandfathering is just lip service! Bottom-line is the average Pit owner might be able to comply by keeping their dog in the house (most do anyway!)and not building the expensive kennel. They might be able to comply with muzzle and 3 foot leash or just not taking them out in public. The place that it would hit the fan is the insurance policy. We have been unable to find a company around here that will write it and the ones in other states range from $500 to $700 per year with additional cost for each dog. I have a full pit and a pit cross. That means I would have to insure 2 dogs. As working class people, I could not afford the insurance and I am sure I am not alone. So...only the wealthy and the drug dealers will get to keep their pits.
Note: Just spoke with Mr. McFarland at State Farm and he says unless my dogs have been excluded from my policy for a previous bite, my homeowner's liabilty can meet the insurance policy requirement. My currnet homeowner's company says no they will not cover me if my dog is deemed a vicious dog by local ordinance, even if it has never biten. Check your homeowners. PS Renters are on their own!

4) One councilman assured me that they already have a vicious dog law. Well the code is posted beside us. Look at it. I am not an attourney, paralegal or even legal secratary (as you can guess by my spelling) and I believe I could get you out of responsibility for that violation! That does not specify how the dog should be contained or the consequences for violation. It does not even state what is considered vicious. May I suggest improvement and enforcement of that ordinance as well as the other animal control ordinances before creating another one that will not solve the issue either? If we have all these Pit Bulls running loose, why aren't they falling under the leash law?

5) Questions about Animal Control in Rockwood
-Does the Animal Control officer have the ability to write citations?
-If not, who does issue them in Rockwood?
-Are citations being written?
-Are the consequences being enforced? Fines paid? Follow up/inspection that restrictions are being met?
I am not asking to be nasty, I am searching for solutions that would aid Rockwood. I am trying to find the actual problem not the symptom. The dogs that killed Jennifer Lowe had been reported as "at-large" a coouple of times before her death. A simple leash law and enforcement that resulted in removal of the dogs as a penalty may have saved Jennifer.

As you can see, my mind can travel many places sitting in a hospital waiting room!

Wylamena

Pit Bull Ban

For the past few weeks, I have read various articles concerning dogs and their behavior. I had no idea that every article I read was so misleading, especially the ones written by Merrit Clifton. I received a goodly share of phone calls about the ordinance and a fair share was for the ordinance. Up until a few years ago, I lived in Surry County, Va., the same county as Michael Vick, so I have seen a Pit Bull or two..And retiring from an insurance debit in Petersburg, Va. I have dealt with more than my share. Not that all of my experiences with them have been bad, I guess what I am trying to say is that I did not go to the Council Meeting blindly as some pointed out. Maybe I didn't please everyone,and maybe more research will cause me to consider other ways to control a problem before our next vote. I only wish that more Rockwood citizens would come to the City Council meetings and show an interest in Rockwood. We all make mistakes and your input certainly helps. Ray Collett

There is good legislation that can be enacted

Senator Kilby has recently seen the light about "Pit Bulls" and I figure our local folks will too.

A little bit of knowlege is all it would take to understand that the vicious dog problem can't be eliminated with something so blunt instrument like as a breed specific ordinance.

What we need is a "viscious dog/irresponsible owner" ordinance, such as the one Knoxville is working on. I don't understand why the MTAS Pit Bull sample law even exists, but it points out the fallacy in thinking MTAS has its act together. It obviously doesn't give much thought to constitutionality or rationality, but merely crafts municipal code to do what the officials ask for.

I think what is needed is to

I think what is needed is to present the City Council with a Better law that protects citizens from all viscious dogs, not just one breed.

The Rockwood ordinance is inadequate on several levels and opens the City up to lawsuits from several different directions as I read it. There is a posting on MTAS on this very subject, in that the law is vague as to what constitutes a pit bull, and relies on the judgement of an Animal control officer to make absolute determination with no right to appeal before an animal can be destroyed.

This is a bad move as it stands. There is a better way that serves everyone, and protects the Citizens and the City as well.

Pit Bull Ban

Thank you Councilman Collette for the courage and candor of your post. Speaking of "Pit Bulls"... did you know a "Pit Bull" shared the Whitehouse with President Theodur Roosevelt, sat at the side of Helen Keller, Thomas Edison,Mark Twain and John Steinbeck? Both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Bernadette Peters owned one and so did the late Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter). This was THE dog chosen to represent America on posters during World War I and is presently the mascot of 19 TN schools and colleges.
Just wanted you to be aware of some of the "history" of the American Bull Terrier as he was once known as. I think it's important for the council to know the calbre of dog you're looking to ban.
You mentioned Michael Vick. I know for a fact that despite being tortured 21 out of those 22 dogs were found to still be of such stable temperament after testing by multiple canine expert/behaviorists the dogs were deemed "adoptable", i.e. non human aggressive. How many of us could have withstood that kind of torture and limped out licking the hand of the species responsible??

Folks,

Good government is the responsibility of every citizen. That means that we can't sit out in the peanut gallery and take shots without offering to serve our time in the middle of the bull's eye.

For the most part, our elected local officials do not get compensated enough to make it worth their while to serve...They do it because of a sense of obligation. They are trying to do their best in a tough environment.

Our job is to be supportive and offer positive reinforcement. If they come up with an ordinance we don't like, we have the option to rant and rave and call names...or offer a different ordinance that is better.

That is the challenge in this case.

The alternative ordinance for Knoxville has been posted here. Is it what we need? If so, email it, print it out, show it to our elected officials.

Good government does not happen in the dark. It take the constructive involvement of every citizen.

Get to it!

The Knoxville ordinance

WC... The council members

WC...

The council members were given sample ordinances from the Responsible Dog Owners of Tennessee. They were give the ordinances of Oliver Springs, Tullahoma, Tacoma (Washington) and one other (can't recall) as well as the proposed Knoxville ordinance. They have alternative ordinances in hand to look at. Let's hope they study those real hard between now and the next meeting.

That's great!

Presenting alternatives and making your case is what Democracy is about.

Good work,

Now we see what happens?

Community Involvement

Your points are well taken WhitesCreek.My previous post was meant to be informative not cynical.Many people are not aware of the honorable and unique history of the APBT but it was the first thing which caught my attention long before I made the decision to own a pit bull.
Knoxville's ordinance is an excellent attempt to craft a law which is reasonable to yet has significant bite for those who are irresponsible or criminal.

From What I Understand

From what I understand some of the council said they wanted more statistics before they voted. Looks like plenty have been offered. Not only that but a group of responsible dog owners offers them sample ordinances they feel would better serve the community than a ban on a particular breed.
In reading one post above one thing that jumped out at me is this statistic from Karen Delise:
"No documented case where a single, neutered, household Pit Bull was the cause of a human fatality."

In the article in the Roane County News one lady quoted Mayor Miller as saying his greatest fear was having to face a parent of a child that had been attacked and having to say "I'm sorry I didn't do anything." When she asked Mayor Miller what his response would to a parent of a child that was attacked by a dog other than the one he was trying to ban would be, does anyone know if he had a comment?

If I were the Mayor I'd be busting my rear to come up with an ordinance that covers all vicious/dangerous dogs in the event of an attack, not just a single breed. Because if he doesn't, he better start thinking of what his answer will be to that parent because, unfortunately, somewhere in the future it will happen and many people will recall this chance he had to get it right.

Again, the council asked for statistics and it sure looks like they've been given plenty to look at. You know the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it!" Well, they've got it, now let's see what they do with it.

My two cents....

I've been reading the posts here. Maybe I'll do some researching of my own and throw my two cents a little later.

This is a great Community response, Folks

This is how government on all levels should work, but especially at the community level. Keep it up.

And remember to talk to your elected officials personally. I really believe they mean well and just need good information, but maily, they need to know how YOU feel about things.

Pit Bull Ordinance

Thanks to all of you who have sent links to various websites with PitBull information. As the time nears for the second reading, one thing really concerns me. I have seen many of Rockwood citizens over the past few days and not ONE, nor not even ONE phone call, or email, or message in any way concerning this subject. I do appreciate the words from everyone and all of them (out of towners included) will certainly be given the utmost attention, but it sure would make this job easier if some of Rockwood's citizens would share their views. And please use your name, I do.......Ray Collett

Ray,

If nobody from Rockwood has spoken to you about this law...Why is the City Council spending time on it in the first place? No law is better than bad law. (Actually I think you folks are trying to do the right thing but in the wrong way)

Now, I'm going to get onto this idea that you hint at, about not hearing from Rockwood folks. I hope that doesn't mean the City Council thinks it can pass bad law just because Rockwood towns people are asleep at the wheel. (I know for a fact that there are lots of RoaneViews readers from Rockwood. I wish they'd speak up more. They seem to be reluctant to be identified)

My address is Rockwood, TN even though I live outside the city limits, and hope the City Council realizes my family and I are very much affected by what the City Council does. I think it is a real problem precisely because I don't get a vote in City elections. This is just one more reason I favor a metro style government, for the greater voice voters would have.

At any rate, I'll tell you right now, a lot of people are shy about speaking their mind about things like this. They seem to be willing to talk to me about it and they are hoping that the Council sees the wisdom in working on a good and effective law, as has been presented to them, and not the reactionary, "Pit Bull" law. The Councilmen owe it to the townspeople to inderstand what the law and should realize the burdens a bad law puts on people and that it opens up the city to lawsuits, whereas the broader, better, and far more effective viscious dog/owner responsibility law solves everybody's problem and protects the citizens in a constitutional manner as well.

I know you care about doing a good job. Thanks for your willingness to listen and think about this.

I know y'all are used to me & WC disagreeing...

but not this time.

WC would make a fine addition to Rockwood's City Council, I have no doubt - if were qualified (by where he lives). Alas, he can't do that, though.

But, even though I appreciate Ray Collett VERY much for his openness and discussion here, I must agree with WC that the City Council is under NO obligation whatever to pass a bad law just because enough citizens don't protest against it. Having been shown better laws as examples is ALL the reason needed to refrain from passing what is clearly and on its surface a bad law. Having a better example to follow is all that is needed to pass a better law. Please don't fall into the trap of knowingly passing inferior legislation merely because enough citizens aren't complaining about it!

I breed-specific law is based on ignorance, and laws based on ignorance are bad laws at their core and from the get-go. I don't think there's any way to refute that statement.

RB

WC, you need to run for

WC, you need to run for councilman! I want to address some things Ray has talked about. First, I live in Harriman but because of being close to Rockwood this ordinance would affect me. I will state right here for the Rockwood, as for myself (and others in Harriman) if and when that ban is put in place I will no longer spend my money in Rockwood...not just inside the city limits of Rockwood. I don't even know where the city limits begin and end. I spend thousands of dollars at businesses with a Rockwood address. Some of these businesses are Wal Mart, Goody's, Shoe Show, Radio Shack, Jerry's Bait, Junior's restaurant, not counting all the little gas stations, etc. I'm required to be in Knoxville at least 3 times a week so I would frequent the Wal Mart and other stores there. As for residents in Rockwood speaking out, I saw one in an article on Volunteer TV. I think her name was Kippy Vaughn. She does not own a pit bull but had several dogs. She stated she was against it. I guess people are reluctant to speak out. Heck, I would be too it I felt it was useless. Maybe they think their voices wouldn't make a difference when the Mayor seems to have his mind made up already.

Well, R2L

I love my friends even when they mess up.

Harriman already has passed this law so you're going to have to think about this.

We just need to keep educating and communicating. I appreciate all the elected officials around Roane County. If they do something wrong...It's out fault as well, for not talking to them.

If the job paid more than $50 a month, I still wouldn't be interested.

WC, From my understanding

WC,

From my understanding Harriman is looking at taking out "pit bulls" from their dangerous dogs ordinance. Not sure how they're going to this...recend or reword but it is being discussed from what I've heard. What is so frustrating is you have a great number of people TRYING to communicate with the council and it seemingly is getting nowhere. I thought they wanted (or was willing and wanting to) to speak with the people that offered. Anyway that is what several of them implied at the meeting. Just wonder if they've followed up with that with anyone they took phone numbers from. WC, I don't know if you were at that meeting or not but when you have one councilman sitting back in his chair seeming to be more interested in his fingernails than what is being said and a mayor whose mind is made up regardless what would have been put in front of him that night then it's no wonder citizens of Rockwood aren't there. Makes one wonder if they feel it's useless. Maybe someone else with more information on the councilmen contacting the speakers can let us know. I would bet that hasn't taken place.

Pit Bull Ordinance

Thanks gang for all of your input. It has opened my eyes, even my sister (a pit bull owner) in Va. called me. She saw it on CNN. I voted the way I felt and I had spent lots of time reading ordinances while recooping from my heart problem and honestly thought I had made a correct decision. I had no pressure from any person be it politician or citizen. I owe no one anything, as far as a favor or whatever. I now realize that there are much better ways to handle the situation and even though I will not tell any other council member or mayor of my decision (Sunshine Law), maybe now there are at least two of us (Councilman Evans) that will vote against the ban. Ray Collett

Mr. Collett, Thank you for

Mr. Collett,

Thank you for your last post. I'm glad to know you have looked at the information provided to you as well as do researching on your own. I was sorry to hear about your heart problem and I sincerely hope you continue to improve and get stronger. I left the meeting feeling really low because of impressions I got from some members of the council. I thought our countless hours of putting together packets of sample ordinances and statistics as well as our words were falling on deaf ears, but with your post I realize I was wrong. I DO want irresponsible owners held accountable and the sample ordinances the council was given addresses that. It's those type of owners that give the good ones a bad name. Again, thank you for being willing to look at the information and realize there is a better way to target the problem instead of banning a breed. And please send kuddos to your sister!!

Thanks Ray, We should offer a substitute act

Why don't we suggest a work group that can look at sample vicious dog law and see what we can offer to the City Councils?

I think we all realize there is something lacking in our present legal ability to deal with irresponsible dog owners, and there needs to be some way for a dog to be declared viscious based on its history, and owners to be held responsible.

From my interaction with city Councilmen they want to do what is best for the community and we should support them in that endeavor. This would be a good way to do it, possibly offering the same law in all of our cities for consistency.

Can we get some volunteers if the City Council is willing?

That's exactly what we would

That's exactly what we would love to see happen. We have 2 specific people that would be available on conference call to help answer the questions of the council members. One is a dog bite expert ((link...)) and the other is the author of the book Fatal Dog Attacks ((link...)). Both have confirmed they will be available if the council is willing to meet. Our goal is to sit down with the council and working together to come up with an ordinance to do just as WC stated. Just post if they are willing and there will be numerous volunteers to join in the meeting.

Will the Knoxville ordinance

Will the Knoxville ordinance do the job? If so, I say a bit of plagiarism is in order. let's not reinvent the wheel, let's just make sure it applies to our needs and doesn't put an undue burden on the municipality or the dog owner.

Dog Ordinance

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I think that the proposed ordinance will have to acted on (voted on the second reading) BEFORE any other ordinance of that sort can be discussed. If we vote against it on the February second reading, then a new item can be added to the next agenda discussing workshops to be formed. I think I am right on this, but I have been wrong before (as you can see). Ray Collett

I have to say...

I have to say that I told you so to a few people, they know who and what! That said, would Rockwood turning out for the next meeting sway the thoughts of the council? How many Rockwood citizens would it take? Not just Pit Bull owners, but any Rockwood Citizen should come. This does not affect Pit owners alone. This ban will affect tax dollars because enforcement will cost money, it will cause overcrowding for rescues and shelters, it will not protect you from the attack of any other breed of dog and it will not hold the dog owner accountable. ROCKWOOD must come even if they are not dog owners. This ordinance affects EVERYONE! If you have never come to a City Council Meeting before, now is the time to start. That will be Monday, Feb 18 at 7:00 PM. C'mon ya'll!

Wylamena

Ok, here's the way to get good law.

Rockwood folks should contact all of the City Councilmen and ask that the current bill be voted down and replaced with a bill similar to the Knoxville bill that passed yesterday. (Let's make sure we appreciate Mr Collet for being open minded and listening to the points made here.)

I would like us to get a copy of that bill as passed and check it out. I don't agree with some of it's components but it's far better than what is currently being considered.

This needs to be done asap and not five minutes before the next meeting, in order to be fair to the commissioners that actually prepare themselves by reading their packets before they get to the meeting.

Then get the word out to everybody, letters to the editor, etc. that we want our children protected from ALL viscious dogs and we want ALL dog owners to be resposible, not just Pit Bulls and their owners.

Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Huskey, Curr, mongrel, Yard dog, Heinz 57, Chihuahua, and Pomeranian owners need to be responsible, too!

WC, It's my understanding

WC,

It's my understanding the Knoxville bill passed just as it was posted in the KnoxNews Sentinel. If so, the councilmen have that copy in a notebook (binder) given to them by the Responsible Dog Owners of Tennessee. I don't have the link but you can get a copy via knoxnews.com.

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