Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 3, 2013

More owners register pit bulls in the city of Bluefield

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — More pit bull owners in Bluefield are registering their pets as the city’s Board of Directors continue to mull an ordinance banning new pit bulls from being allowed within the city limits.

City Manager Jim Ferguson said only eight owners had complied with a 2008 ordinance requiring pit bulls be registered with the city police department as of March 26. Ferguson said Tuesday the number has more than doubled with 22 pit bull owners having registered at least one dog with the city.

“The number has increased substantially,” Ferguson said. “Many of the owners who have registered have registered multiple dogs. I know of at least one gentleman who came to register all three of his dogs. I am not sure of the exact number of dogs.”

Ferguson said he thinks recent press attention to the city ordinance has encouraged more pit bull owners to register their animals.

“People are more willing to register their animals since we have had all this publicity,” he said. “All of that has increased awareness of the ordinance. These are people who do not want their dogs to not be compliant, in danger of getting a citation or being brought before city court.”

As per the current ordinance, pit bulls or wolf-hybrids that are registered with the city must also be muzzled when outside their kennels, cannot be leashed to inanimate objects, and cannot be walked on leashes longer than 6 feet long. The animals must also be confined to a locked kennel with a secure bottom, and floor and sides embedded no less than two feet deep. Owners must display “beware of dog” signs on their property as well.

Ferguson said the new ordinance is still in the drafting phase, but he expects a first reading of the ordinance to be held at the board meeting at noon on Tuesday, April 9.

“It appears the new ordinance is slated to be on the agenda for the board meeting next week,” he said.

The new ordinance would prohibit any further pit bulls from moving into the city limits as well as require all current dogs living within the city to be registered.

Ferguson said the new ordinance will be read three times before it comes up for a vote before the board. If the ordinance passes, Ferguson said pit bull owners will have a 10-day grace period to register their pets.

“The original ordinance was passed in 2008, and there has been a month since this new ordinance was announced, so people have had plenty of time to register their animals,” he said. “There will be three readings of the ordinance, which could take a month or so. If it passes, there will be a 10-day period for owners to register their animals. There is plenty of time for everyone to register their dogs and comply with the ordinance.”