A story in the Herald last month struck a nerve with fourth-graders at Trimmier Elementary School, prompting the class to write letters to the Killeen City Council regarding the city’s dog ordinance.
In a May 6 council meeting, the council discussed changes it could make to an existing ordinance to hold dog owners more responsible for their pets and prevent at-large dogs.
Lala Aghaian, a fourth-grade teacher at Trimmier Elementary in Killeen, sent the council hand-written notes from her students with their opinions and ideas on issues such as having dogs microchipped, requiring dogs to be spayed and neutered, and strengthening the city’s fence ordinance.
“(The students) were passionate and they did their research and came up with ideas,” Aghaian said.
Councilman Jonathan Okray responded via letter to each of Aghaian’s 22 students. On Friday, Councilman Steve Harris visited the class to talk to them about their ideas and opinions.
“I was so surprised he wrote to each student,” Aghaian said of Okray’s letters. “They are over the moon. They feel empowered by taking part in the process. It is wonderful to be in a city where councilmen take personal time for students.”
In his letter to the council, Carlos Cruz said he agreed with microchipping dogs but “(a) family should have a choice about spaying or neutering their dogs.”
Carlos said Harris talked to the class about how to prevent dog attacks, while the students took notes.
Ariana Brown agreed with the council that the fencing ordinance should be more stringent.
“Why I want this is because it can create safety for our citizens and our city,” she said. “We asked him questions and he gave us other questions. I think it was exciting.”
Harris said he also encouraged the students to continue their involvement in city government.
“Even if they’re kids, they still have a voice in what goes on in the city,” he said. “It’s important that they voice their opinions to the city even though they are kids. We still take into consideration what children say because even as young as they are, they’re still citizens, and we want them to be happy here.”
In his letter, Ronnie Leslie adamantly expressed disapproval of having all dogs in the city spayed and neutered.
“I think the idea of getting all dogs spayed and neutered is just straight ridiculous, and that’s just my opinion,” he wrote. “If this law succeeds then eventually all dogs will die. In the future all people will regret this when there’s no more dogs in the future. ... Please don’t spay and neuter dogs or we will be stuck with cats as it will also ruin my future. I’m a boy, so dogs are my best friends.”
Ronnie said it was “fantastic” to talk to Harris about the issue.
“I had never spoken to a city councilman. This is an amazing opportunity,” he said. “It was fun writing a letter. It makes me feel special. All these people are paying attention to our writings and we’re one simple class.”
Todd Martin with Killeen ISD contributed to this story.