September 20, 2011 1:04:00 PM
There's a better way to handle vicious dogs than to wait for one to attack and injure livestock, or worse, a child.
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors is on the right track. After recent dog attacks, supervisors are drafting an animal-control ordinance that would include a leash law. The idea is to crack down on owners who apparently don't care enough about their own dogs, as well as their neighbors' well being, to properly supervise their dogs.
The county board held a public hearing on "vicious dogs" last week. That's good. What's even better is that members of the public pointed out that the county has no animal-control law on the books in the first place.
As a result of that valuable input, supervisors are also looking at issues such as a leash law. That's even better.
It should be noted that Lowndes County has an animal control ordinance and a strict leash law. So does the city of Starkville. To tell you the truth, we're scratching our head as to why Oktibbeha County doesn't already have one, too.
It makes more sense to us to try to punish owners when their dogs are roaming the streets unattended than to wait to punish them after their dog attacks a child.
On Aug. 13 on Self Creek Road an unattended pack of five dogs attacked two children, sending them to the hospital. A deputy shot and killed the most aggressive dog. Three dog owners now face aggravated assault charges.
George Carrithers, chief deputy with the Oktibbeha County Sheriffs Department, said his office had received complaints about the dogs in the past but couldn't issue citations because there is no animal-control ordinance.
On Aug. 12 a couple reported seeing three roaming dogs kill one goat and injure two others on their Chapel Hill Road property.
In July 2010 farmer Bill McGee, of Mactoc Farm, had five dairy heifers killed by roaming dogs. Several more cows were injured.
McGee wants an enforceable leash law so something can be done before either another one of his cows is killed or he has to pack a firearm at all times to start shooting roaming dogs.
Yes, it's helpful to have an ordinance that -- after the fact -- defines a dog as "vicious" after it mauls or threatens a person or animal.
But it makes even more sense to have a law on the books that makes it a crime to let your dogs run loose.
And we have a question for District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson, who says he thinks such a law would be unenforceable because of a tight budget and lack of manpower within the sheriffs department.
Would you rather have Mr. McGee and an irate posse of armed citizens chasing after these dogs?