Since the June 21 pit bull attack on a 7-year-old boy, local woman Cheryl LaBon responded with the Justice for Javon petition. On July 21, LaBon announced reaching her goal of more than 1,000 signatures for the petition.
The Justice for Javon petition proposes the following measures to be taken by pit bull owners:
- Have their dog registered with their neighborhood, a block club if one exists
- Insure their dog for at least $50,000 as an addition to their home owners insurance
- Have a visible “beware of dog” sign on their property
- Have at least an 8 to 12 foot fence surrounding their yard
- Be responsible for all medical bills of any injury caused by the dog
- Pay a $2,000 fine if not compliant
As LaBon takes her signatures to city hall, the public responds with the following.
“I’ve heard there are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners. So I’m not, you know, not denigrating the breed of pit bull but just asking for owners to be responsible and try to contain the dogs and you know, treat them appropriately. The petition seems to be, I think, something that will get people’s attention and hope to enforce in [this] thinking: responsible ownership.”
“There were a few things that are probably a little strong, but it definitely sends a message to the council that they need to regulate pit bull owners more carefully. I have nothing against pit bulls or pit bull owners. I think they’re great dogs if they’re well behaved, but in circumstances like this, there definitely needs to be more regulation.”
“Hopefully it could be a solution because after I read in the paper how [Mayor] Otis Johnson felt about it I actually felt like, you know what, it’s something that need[s] to be done. I feel like anyone who owns a dog should be held responsible—point blank.”
“I appreciate the concern. I’ve seen the pit bulls a bit out of control at the dog parks where I take my dogs and I hope that the city will at least consider strengthening laws, especially with the reputation pit bulls unfortunately have developed. I think it’s often more dependent on the way they’re brought up than simply some inherent trait in the breed, because I’ve seen very well-behaved pit bulls. But again, any dog that exhibits any behaviors that are possibly threatening or considered threatening should be more appropriately [handled]—either not brought out or properly restrained by an owner.”
“I think more things should be added. I think that’s just the top ones that they could think. The only one I have a question mark around is the insurance. That’s a lot of insurance for someone to ask to cover a dog and if I had a dog, I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to take out that much insurance.”
“People should be responsible for their dogs just like they should be responsible for their kids if they screw up or do something wrong, just like they should be responsible for themselves … especially as a pit bull owner or a Rottweiler or any breed like that. I mean, if you can’t handle that dog, you shouldn’t have it. You know, there’s a big difference between owning a pit and owning a poodle. These dogs are gladiators by nature, they’re a fighting breed, and if they don’t have a dominant owner, they’ll basically do what they want. Little dogs are the ones that don’t ever get disciplined because they’re small and they don’t pose a big threat. Well you can’t have that same attitude with the pit bull breed or with a bull dog breed because that’s what they’re geared for—they’re working, fighting dogs and if you’re not educated on that breed, you shouldn’t own one.”
Raymond Todd Valderrama
Pit-Bull Owner for four years
“One of the things I would recommend is possibly the local reality people [being] advised that if they have a client that’s moving into the neighborhood with a pit bull, that they advise them of any rules or whatever because people might move in and not know anything about this. There are more vicious dogs that just pit bull you know, so that’s one thing and then … other people can be injured besides children. Anybody can be attacked by a dog, so yes … there could be some measures put in place but they need to be more comprehensive I think.”
“These enforcements on pit bulls seem kind of reasonable to me. I know if I had kids, or even with him, I don’t want like a pit bull ready to attack or anything like that.”
Rosemary Moore with Pluto
St. Petersburg, FL
“I think this is not something that really could be enforced on a city level. I think that you could get neighborhoods to come up with their own kind of self-policing ordinances, but when you’re talking about personal property and you’re not talking about taxation, you’re actually talking about city-wide stuff with so many things [involved] that I just don’t think that it’s realistically possible. Do I think that some kind of regulation for all-dangerous animals [should exist]? Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. But I don’t think outlawing the ownership of a pit bull in itself is something that is enough to potentially penalize somebody for their taste in dogs. I mean I think that prudence is part of it but what are you going to do, you’re going to have irresponsible people no matter what. It’s not an excuse and it’s not a ‘shrugging your shoulders’ and an ‘oh well,’ but I’d have to think about possibly what you could do.”
Gary Rowden with Dominique
Contact Sam Reveley.