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Lafourche councilman wants tougher rules for pit bull owners


A deadly pit bull attack in Houma last month triggers the call for stricter laws and better enforcement of the animals. Now, a Lafourche Parish councilman is introducing a proposal that he thinks will make the parish safer.

Lafourche Councilman John Arnold is a self-professed animal lover. Just today, Arnold says a pit bull approached him on his job site and hopped in the back of his truck. "I kinda watched the dog all day, I left it in my truck in case anybody came around looking for it, no one came around so I brought this dog home with me," Arnold said.

If the dog had a microchip inside him, which is something Arnold is proposing, he'd know if the dog had an owner.

The councilman says there's currently an ordinance on the books that says all dogs should be licensed, have tags and be spayed or neutered - but that's not always happening. Arnold says, "The responsibility lies on the owners and the owners need to step up and take responsibility if they're going to have a dog that can cause vicious harm to people."

Arnold says he was motivated to propose an ordinance that would strengthen the current law after hearing about a 4-year-old Houma girl who was killed last month. Mia Derouen was watching TV inside her mother's apartment when a 2-year-old pit bull attacked. Mia and her mother hid in a bedroom until police arrived and shot the animal. The little girl died at the hospital from her injuries.

Arnold says he doesn't ever want to see a situation like that happen in Lafourche, so he wants dog owners to secure special permits with the parish for their animals if they're deemed to be "vicious." Fines will be put in place for people who don't pay for the permits.

But not all dog owners are in favor of the measure. At Tuesday night's council meeting, one dog owner said, "You want to put a permit, we have to have a permit for our family members, you know I don't think that's right."

Laura Breaux adds, "If you're taking care of your dog, you know where your dog is at 24 hours a day. You don't microchip your kids, why should you have to microchip your dogs."

Even some council members expressed concern over the proposed crackdown. Daniel Lorraine suggests a study be done to see how many pit bull attacks have occurred in Lafourche Parish before any decision is made. "What if the people in Lafourche Parish take care of their dogs better than people in another parish? That can make a big difference," he said.

John Arnold says his proposal is simply meant to make the parish a safer place. The idea will be discussed again in two weeks.

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