By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
Nailing down an effective animal control ordinance has council members leaning toward a city policy directed at controlling the people as much as the pets.
Council members suggested that recent tactics have been like treating the symptoms and not the disease.
There's no getting around it: Animal control is 95 percent violent dog control, and that means pit bull control.
But control of pit bulls is just the problem, because state law prevents any city from singling out breeds in ordinances.
Tuesday night, members of the Killeen City Council agreed to give the issue of dangerous and vicious animals back to the animal advisory committee so that it can somehow figure out a working policy that will fix the concerns council members have about animals that threaten public safety.
City Attorney Kathy Davis said one city in Texas passed a pit bull ordinance, and then was forced to repeal it. But she said that no matter how the council chooses to revise the ordinance, it can't pass anything breed-specific; it's strictly prohibited by the state.
Councilman Juan Rivera said that when the item goes back to committee, it needs to figure out how to hold the owners responsible in such a way that it makes an impact on the problem.
"It's the person, it's not the dog (who's committing the offense)," Rivera said. "We need to hold the citizens who own this type of pet responsible."
George Fox, president of Assisi Animal Refuge in Killeen, gave a short presentation and handed each council member an information packet focused on pit bulls with statistics and prevention methods that work.
"We're talking about a group of animals that you have to be very careful with. ? We're talking about irresponsible pet owners," Fox said. "We should consider targeting specific areas of the city. One of the things our organization is doing, we're preparing a plastic card for ordinance violations for police officers. We've got people all over town who won't tie their dog during the daytime, but as soon as they know the animal control has gone home for the night, they tie the dogs to a tree."
That increases their hostility and prevalence to attacks, Fox said.
Councilman Otis Evans said the city needs to find a way to reach the public so that people know what's acceptable and what's not, who to contact as a neighbor and what their rights are.
"I think there's a key part that's already in the ordinance that alludes to the neighbors identifying threats and making that known to the appropriate parties," Evans said. "I think that's an information thing – if they feel threatened, they need to know who to call. I think we need to get on the campaign trail. I've talked to people, and they want to know what the city is doing."
He added that the city's efforts can only reach so far. It's up to the public to take action if they want results. They city needs to teach them how.
In other council discussions, the fee for waste disposal will likely be upping monthly bills next year, at least slightly.
City Manager Connie Green said the new hauling and disposal contract with Waste Management will increase expenditures by as much as $700,000, and "in all probability, there will be an increase in solid waste rates."
Green said the disposal costs will be divided between the commercial and residential sectors and be based on the weight of the garbage for each area. Those increases will be passed onto the consumers, he said.
The council also briefly discussed the sign ordinances for garage sales and real estate signs, and both topics are headed back to the committee level for evaluation.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.