Pit Bull Control Controversy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/23/08- East Texas

Pit Bull Control Controversy

While the debate over pit bull bans continues across the country, some East Texans feel the scary reputation they've received is unfair. 

Animal control officers do stress owner responsibility, saying they need to know just how powerful and potentially dangerous these dogs can be.

"They have a powerful jaw structure; they were bred that way," said Shawn Markmann, Tyler Animal Control.   "I believe the stats say they can get 2000 pounds per square inch, so you have to be careful with those types of dogs."

Most everyone agrees these breeds need to be controlled, it's just how to do that that's so controversial.

"If you own that dog you have a responsibility both to yourself and society at large to make sure that animal does not get loose," said Markmann. 

"I put 90 percent of the blame on the owners of the pit bulls," said Terry Cashion, Humane Society of East Texas. 

While there are no breed-specific bans in place here in East Texas, there are other animal control ordinances such as "leash laws."

"We have patrols out all the time and we get complaints all the time," said Joey Seeber, Tyler Mayor.  "I think the leash law works. I would be concerned about being breed-specific. I don't think you can name every single breed that are being aggressive, it's not just pit bulls."

"We've seen some really aggressive chows, we've seen really aggressive shepherd mixes," said Markmann. 

There are many other ideas floating around on how to control these breeds.

"I think having insurance on a dog like this would be something more likely to help control these guys then strict city laws and things like that," said Dr. Gary Spence, Spence and White Veterinary Hospital.  "I mean these guys are quickly deserving such a law."

In the wake of attacks, like Sunday's deadly mauling in Louisiana, many are on edge.  But it may take more than a law to guarantee everyone is safe,

"We just have to be careful with our companion animals," said Markmann.  "Any of them can turn at any time."

Courtney Lane, Reporting  clane@kltv.com

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