Council says no pit bulls in Winfield
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
WINFIELD — At last night’s Winfield City Council meeting, the council revisited the potential revisions to the animal control ordinance, particularly whether or not to allow pit bulls, and the result moved one city employee to quit her job.
The discussion was about the proposed changes to a new ordinance, which will have the first reading at the next city council meeting.
The council voted 3-2 to keep the American Staffordshire Terrier, commonly known as a pit bull, as a dangerous animal that is not allowed in the city of Winfield. After the vote, Sherry Messer, animal control officer, expressed her disappointment in the ruling and told the council she was done.
“I quit. Find somebody else,” Messer told the council before walking out of the meeting.
During the discussion about dangerous animals preceding the vote, Mayor Chris Finnell read to the council the different proposed criteria that would classify an animal as dangerous, including any animal that has attacked or bitten a person or domestic animal at anytime without provocation; any dog with a history, tendency or disposition to attack, cause injury or otherwise endanger the safety of persons or domestic animals; any dog that snaps or bites or manifests the disposition to snap or bite; any dog that has been trained for dog fighting, animal fighting or animal baiting or any dog owned or kept for such purposes; and any dog trained to attack on command except those used by law enforcement or military agencies.
“This is the dangerous animal criteria that was added in when we had stricken the pit bull terrier breed specific part,” said Finnell.
“I’m against striking that out,” said council member Jan Walter.
“I am, too,” echoed council member Roger Sharp.
“I feel this way — like I said last month — after talking with citizens and people that have contacted me and with some of the things that have happened in the past, here and in other towns,” said Walter.
Finnell explained to the council that, as in the past, a pit bull was considered a dangerous animal in the city’s animal control ordinance and — depending on the vote — it may be again.
“I have chihuawas that want to bite me. If you take out pit bulls then you have to take out them and German Shepherds and a lot of other dogs,” said Messer.
Sharp then reminded everyone that any dog that shows dangerous tendencies would be considered a dangerous animal and would not be allowed in the city limits.
“Well, if any dog meets those characteristics they would be banned too,” said Sharp.
“The pit bull would be the only breed specific part,” said Finnell.
“Oh, that is so totally wrong,” replied Messer.
“I think if we have it in there that any other animal that attacks like that, then why are we being breed specific with a pit bull?” asked Councilman Ryan Rees.
“I’m not wanting to make it a big deal,” Rees continued, “but if we could link every dog in here that could possibly be in this town, why are we right off the top saying no pit bull?”
“I think a lot of it is because this is what our code has always been, if we we take it out then we open ourselves up to something we don’t want to open up here,” explained Sharp.
The council also:
• Approved the Welcome Inn and Casey’s liquor license renewals.
• Discussed speed concerns on West Central street.
• Noted that this year’s Crooked Creek Days celebration was an improvement on previous years.
The next Winfield City Council meeting will be held on Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. in City Hall.