Archived Story

Dadeville council discusses ‘serious safety problem’

Published 12:27pm Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dadeville residents attended Tuesday’s city council meeting to ask the council to call off the dogs.

“We do have a serious safety problem,” said Richard Jarrell. “We need to address it now.”

Jarrell told the council about a dog attack he went through recently.

“I was walking my dog down my street on a leash,” Jarrell said. “Here come four pitbull mixes charging me.”

Jarrell said the pack of dogs knocked him to the ground and attacked his pet. Then he showed pictures of the injuries to his dog, and the blood and scratches on his home’s door frame where his dog “was frantically trying to get in the house.”

Jarrell said the problem is not the dogs – it’s the humans.

“We have a growing number of irresponsible pet owners in our community,” Jarrell said.

Jarrell also produced letters written by others in his neighborhood who were concerned about vicious dogs.

“This is a decent middle class subdivision, and you’ve got people walking up and down the streets with guns,” Jarrell said. “It’s not getting better … It’s getting worse.”

Jarrell encouraged the city to pursue an ordinance that would enable the police/the city to fine pet owners whose dogs attack others. The same ordinance, he said, should address the removal of vicious dogs.

City attorney Robin Reynolds explained the city’s current dog ordinance – which is dated 1958.

“Basically it says if you are an owner of a dog, you have to keep that dog muzzled,” Reynolds said. “If you fail to muzzle that dog, you can be fined from a minimum of $2 to a maximum of $20.”

Reynolds said the ordinance is obviously outdated and he would work with the council to draft an ordinance that would enable the city to address the problem.

“It’s a problem all over the city,” Mayor Joe Smith said.

He then shared a story about his experience dealing with a dog problem during his time as sheriff.

“Several years ago I raised a good many goats, and I had some dogs kill 27 goats of mine in two weeks,” Smith said. “I had a friend who ran a drugstore, and I got him to order me some strychnine … and I put out antifreeze.”

Smith said his wife warned him he was likely to poison the neighbor’s pets.

“I said, ‘My goats are my pets,’” Smith said.

Smith said his wife called all their neighbors to warn them about the poison, but after a weekend of leaving the poison out, Smith said there was none left Monday. Tuesday was when he got the call from the vet.

“It was the vet. He said Joe, what kind of poison did you put out. I knew not to tell a lie, because I was the sheriff at the time,”

So Smith said he told the vet, who informed him that the neighbor’s dogs had been poisoned – one was dead, and one was in the process of dying.

“I was in a race for re-election then, so I was scared not to go ahead and pay the vet,” “I knew I’d get in trouble because I’d broke the law, putting out poison. A few days later I got a bill from the vet, $431. I went ahead and paid it to keep from making the paper again.

Smith said he learned a lesson from the incident.

“I never tell anybody what to do anymore about a dog – I tell them what I’d do, and if I kill one, I don’t let anybody know about it. Not my wife – nobody.”

The city also discussed the fire department’s truck, which is still out of commission. Although the city recently accepted a bid from NAFECO to repair the truck, NAFECO added a new potential charge – up $2,800 to repair valves if deemed necessary during the pump test.

“It’s still $9,000 less than the next bid,” said Reynolds, but he added the cost for valve replacement, if necessary, had been written into the bid originally.

Councilwoman Pat Potts said her concern was that the company would add additional extra charges.

“They’re reneging on their bid,” Potts said. “We’re going to do what we have to do, but if you can’t trust them to make good on their bid, I don’t trust that they’ll (only) charge $2,800 on the pump test.”

Although the council discussed the issue and voiced dissatisfaction with the added charge, members voted to continue to move forward with paying NAFECO to repair the truck.

“We don’t have any choice,” said councilman Mickey Tarpley.

The council also:

- approved a resolution declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

- agreed to enforce the city’s policy regarding the pick up of large loads of brush and branches – first load free per year, every load thereafter $50

- voted to pay the city’s portion to repair the cart used to take care of the ball fields, in the amount of approximately $1,000

- discussed the McKelvey building, voting to enter into a contract with an environmental agency to assess the building

- decided to have Reynolds draft an ordinance to participate in the back-to-school sales tax holiday

- voted to reappoint three board members to the mental health center