Elmore County commission plans leash law hearingPublished 1:44pm Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By KEVIN TAYLOR
Herald Copy Editor
It was less than 72 hours after the Elmore County Commission announced a public hearing on a county leash law that a 4-year-old East Tallassee girl was mauled and killed by at least one neighborhood dog.
Dog attacks are common across the United States. An average of 4.7 million dog bites occur each year according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Of those 4.7 million, at least half involve children younger than 12 years old.
Less than a month ago, Weoka resident Patricia Boddie appeared before the commission to ask it to adopt the state leash law.
The commission then set a date for it to convene a public hearing to garner more input from the public.
“I feel like there needs to be more public input from our county residents before this commission acts,” Commission Chairman David Bowen said.
The commission set the public hearing for 5 p.m. March 24 in the courtroom of the Old Elmore County Courthouse in downtown Wetumpka.
Bowen said it is a sad coincidence that the hearing was set so close to the recent dog attack in East Tallassee.
“It’s a tragic event that has occurred in Tallassee, and certainly my heart goes out to the girl’s family,” Bowen said.
Trey Taylor, who represents all of Tallassee within the Elmore County lines, said he is hopeful there will be a good turnout at the public hearing.
“This is a two-sided coin, and that’s why I want to hear from as many people as possible,” Taylor said.
Taylor remembered the last public hearing held before the commission in which a large number of Slapout residents were armed with petitions asking the commission not to allow a restaurant across the street from Cains Chapel United Methodist Church to serve alcohol.
“Those folks came with hundreds of signatures in opposition of the proposed retail liquor license for the restaurant. You couldn’t help but to listen to them,” Taylor said. “I hope we have that spirited of a turnout (March 24).”
Taylor as well expressed his condolences to the family of the 4-year-old girl who was killed from the dog attack last week.
“It is a terrible tragedy,” he said. “And I still feel the people should decide if there needs to be a leash law throughout the county.”
According to the Code of Alabama 3-1-5, it requires “every person owning or having in charge any dog or dogs shall at all times confine such dog or dogs to the limits of his own premises or the premises on which such dog or dogs is or are regularly kept.”
The law stipulates if anyone violates the section then they will be subject to a fine no more than $50.
But for the law to be effective in the county and outside of municipalities which don’t already have leash laws, it must be adopted by the commission.
And then the question comes of how the law will be enforced.
At present there is one animal control officer within the county to cover more than 600 square miles.
“As far as I’m concerned, the owner of that dog is responsible for the actions of that dog,” Taylor added. “So even if a leash law is passed there are more questions to ask, like what will the fines be and will one officer be enough to work the county?”