HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - Just weeks after a deadly dog attack on a 5-year-old boy in Garland County, leaders are discussing an ordinance to prevent attacks like it from happening again.
Hot Springs Animal Control is now saying after examining the body of the bull mastiff that attacked the child, the animal was at least 50 percent pit bull. That is just one of the types of dogs leaders hope to put tougher regulations on in an effort to protect the public.
"Largest number of breed specific bites were pit bulls at 21 percent in 2008 and 2009. In 2012, I did the same type of study again. Pit bull or pit bull mixes made up 58 percent of our bites," said Animal Services Director Dan Bugg.
In recent years, Bugg said the number of pit bulls in Hot Springs and Garland County has continued to rise along with an alarming number of dog bites.
"It's not a bite and let go. It's a bite and ragdoll, or rend, or tear, and we're watching and seeing a lot of people in these reports where their life will change at that instant," said Bugg.
That is why Justice of the Peace Mickey Gates said a subcommittee of the quorum court is looking to tighten their current vicious dog ordinance, requiring certain breeds be micro-chipped, fenced or on a leash throughout the county.
The subcommittee approved new language Monday that the county adopt a list of "high-risk breeds," and owners of those breeds will need to meet special conditions. For instance: dogs considered "high-risk" will also need to be spayed or neutered, and owners must carry a $100,000 insurance policy covering any damage or injury caused by their dog.
"We will issue a citation to the owner by looking at the collar or by looking at the microchip, and whoever is determined to be the owner will be issued a citation. Then they get to tell a judge why they have failed to secure that dog," added Gates.
It's one step closer, Bugg said, to a safer community, and any action is better than none at all.
"Folks have the right to walk the streets of the community, exercise, ride their bicycles. Kids have the right to play outside in their yard without being attacked or mauled by someone's dog," explained Bugg.
Garland County already has a vicious dog ordinance that requires officers to issue citations to dog owners after a bite has occurred. Leaders hope the new proposal would keep those bites from happening in the first place.
"It needs to be uniform," said Hot Springs veterinarian Dr. Brian Peters. "We want to include everyone: the 80-year-old lady with the little dog, and the young family that has a kid that could get hurt. So, I think they're thinking in the right way. It's just hard to put on paper."
Next, the new language will need to pass through another committee before it goes in front of the Quorum Court for final approval. After Monday night's meeting, Gates said that he considers the proposed law a consensus of the people. He said it won't completely satisfy everyone, including himself, but he considers it a reasonable and rational approach to dealing with the issue.