Whitehall City Councilwoman Jackie Thompson’s pit bull legislation was put to sleep June 3 meeting, with she and Leslie LaCorte as the only supporters of the ordinance to ban the breed.
Voting against it were council members Wes Kantor, Leo Knoblauch, Jim Graham, Bob Bailey and Chris Rodriguez. Bailey has alternative legislation dealing with bad dogs and owners, which received a first reading.
"People keep asking me why I’m going after pit bulls," Thompson said after the vote. "Well, because pit bulls are representative of the new order. Bred to kill, they bring terror into hearts of those who must live amongst them."
She described them as abused, killers, maimers and a twisted status symbol.
"Would it have been my first choice of issues to address legislatively? If not for the citizens on Beaver Avenue who are living in fear, probably not," she continued. "But circumstances sometimes dictate how we shall act. I felt compelled to make a pit bull ban the first legislation that I presented to this council."
LaCorte added "It’s a sad day in Whitehall. I had hoped to tighten the reins to make it a safer community. I think we are going to see more moving in. We’re welcoming them. We’re going to take a hit. It’s just a matter of time."
Once again, as they have for months of argument, about 50 people attended the meeting expressing support and opposition.
Pit bull owners and those showing opposition to the ban sported "evil-doer" buttons mocking Thompson’s referral over the past five months to pit bulls as "tools of terror" and the owners as "evil-doers."
Anna Cluxton, who is not a Whitehall resident, announced that she and others are starting a new organization, Help Fido. She offered that they plan to bring low cost spay/neuter clinics, microchip identification and inoculation services to the area.
Whitehall resident Barb Penn informed council and Cluxton that those services have been available to residents for many years. She suggested they assist with funding the existing services to enhance what is already available.
Penn is an animal rights advocate, who works daily in animal rescue, and has for 30 years. She has shared with council on numerous occasions that she supported Thompson’s proposed ban after seeing the aftermath and human suffering as a result of pit bull attacks in the city.
Resident and American Bull owner Janiece Miller told council that she has researched records of who owns dogs in Whitehall, and knows who they are, and how many they own, noting that some have more than the allowed three.
She said that the city has other problems they should be dealing with, including going after the bad owners.
According to Tim Donahue, in the dog licensing division of the Franklin County auditor’s office, the only information Miller could obtain through a public records request would be the names and addresses of registered dog owners by ZIP code. The information would not provide the number of dogs or the breed.
Donahue said that he didn’t recall Miller making a public records request. He can, however, release more specific information to city entities.
The City of Whitehall recently requested information of who owned registered pit bulls within the city, and it was supplied.
In other business, Knoblauch introduced another noisy animal ordinance. Thompson had proposed one that was defeated. Knoblauch tightened the language of the existing ordinance and the one Thompson introduced.
It states in part, "No person shall keep or harbor any animal or fowl within the municipality which makes repeated and successive sounds for a period of more than 15 minutes audible off the premises on which such animal is kept."
Service Director Ray Ogden offered some good news. After meeting with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city will be receiving a reimbursement for $22,560 for all costs related to the March 7-9 severe snow storm.
He also announced that the annual open house at the service garage on Poth Road will be June 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dean Coffman, vice president of the Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Board, addressed council regarding services they provide to help to those with mental issues, alcohol and substance abuse.
Last year the agency served 1,100 Whitehall residents with a $2.3 million treatment investment.
The next council meeting will be June 17 at 7 p.m.