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MailTribune.com
  • Council seems split over pit-bull ban

    Medford City Council seems torn over potential pit-bull ban; citizens speak in favor of their pets
  • Pit-bull supporters heard mixed messages from the Medford City Council Thursday over the issue of a breed-specific ban to deal with dangerous dogs.
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  • Pit-bull supporters heard mixed messages from the Medford City Council Thursday over the issue of a breed-specific ban to deal with dangerous dogs.
    The council voted unanimously to task the Police Advisory Committee with finding ways to deal with dangerous dogs and irresponsible dog owners in Medford.
    Mayor Gary Wheeler said a breed-specific ban wasn't on the table.
    "We have given no instructions to take any steps toward a ban," he assured about 20 pit-bull supporters in the audience.
    Other councilors voiced a different opinion.
    "I want all options left open," Councilor John Michaels said. "If there are issues with a breed, I want those put forward."
    Councilor Tim Jackle said, "We have no preconceived notion as to where this is going."
    Medford police have recorded 89 attacks by dogs in three years, of which more than half were by pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Police also say pit bulls are the dog of choice for drug dealers.
    Some cities in the country have banned pit bulls, while others have opted for sterilization or muzzle laws. In some cases, cities have banned pit bulls and other breeds considered dangerous from city parks.
    The Police Advisory Committee will hold a public hearing to seek suggestions on ways to deal with dangerous dogs.
    The council wants the committee to come up with a recommendation that will offer a proactive means for law enforcement to deal with dangerous dogs.
    Also, the committee will recommend a stair-step approach to deal with irresponsible dog owners.
    The council has asked for recommendations by April.
    Pit bull supporters urged the city not to take extreme measures.
    "You'd be taking away good dogs from good families," said Amber Shaw of Jacksonville.
    Jessica Hall of Medford said, "I don't think it's a particular breed that we need to worry about. The majority of pit bulls are family dogs."
    She said that if the council decides to approve a muzzle law, then all breeds should be muzzled, not just pit bulls.
    Rachelle Long of Phoenix said people are reacting with unnecessary fear and emotion in blaming a specific breed of dog.
    "I don't think we want fear and emotion dictating where we are going with this," she said. "Unfortunately pit bulls attract ignorant owners who are not interested in their wonderful qualities like personality, loyalty, intelligence and affection. They are looking to use their physical attributes to instill fear and bolster their ego."
    James Carpenter of Medford said, "Generally what it comes down to is bad owners, not bad dogs. There is no such thing as bad dogs."
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.
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