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Commission votes against adopting leash law ordinance

Commissioners voted against adopting a proposed “leash law” ordinance during a regularly scheduled meeting Monday.

After holding a public hearing Jan. 12 where more than 40 individuals attended the hearing to address the commission on whether they were “for” or “against” the leash law, commissioners decided to bring the discussion to a vote Monday night.

Commission Chairman Allen Caton brought up the item for discussion when he told commissioners he would like to see a work session scheduled in the coming weeks to talk about different options the commission might have for adopting something that would help with the county’s problem.

Commissioner Joe Headley said he wanted to introduce a motion to vote against a leash law.

Commissioner Bobby Agee spoke up during the discussion and said he thought commissioners were getting away from what they originally said they would do.

“We told the people that we would have a public hearing and then get together to have a discussion about the leash law,” Agee said. “Now, we are about to vote on something without discussing it. We promised the people we would either vote it up or down, and we told them we would have a discussion amongst ourselves. Now, we are sitting here talking about something entirely different, and we owe it to the people to either vote it up or vote it down.”

The topic of whether the county should have a way of dealing with animals that physically attack individuals or other dogs has been a topic discussed at commission meetings for the last several months.

Currently, Chilton County has no law or way of dealing with animals that pose as an immediate threat to individuals in the county.

The only law commissioners could adopt would be a section of the Code of Alabama that commissioners said is vague and does not target the problem Chilton County is facing.

Commissioner Joseph Parnell asked if commissioners could hold the “discussion” on Monday.

“I guess I don’t see why we can’t just discuss it right now,” Parnell said.

Caton said he was not in favor of adopting the leash law ordinance because the language in the ordinance was vague and outdated.

“I don’t think the leash law will do what the people who showed up at the public hearing are asking for,” Parnell said in agreement to Caton’s comment. “They want something to help with nuisance animals, and that leash law will not help. It doesn’t have a way to make unruly people conform to society. We have a neighbor issue, not a dog issue. This leash law is not going to prevent these people from letting their mean dogs out.”

Agee said he would be led by the majority of the people who were in favor of adopting the ordinance.

“However the vote goes tonight will be fine, but I think it would be something and right now we have nothing,” Agee said.

Caton said he would also be concerned with the amount of calls the sheriff’s department would field if commissioners voted to adopt the leash law ordinance.

“I think the leash law would skyrocket the calls the sheriff would be receiving,” Caton said.

Commissioner Shannon Welch suggested possibly forming a committee, or the commission as a whole, to work with Chilton County’s legislative delegation and draw up a “nuisance law.”

Commissioners Headley, Welch, Parnell, Caton, Greg Moore and Heedy Hayes voted in favor of not adopting the proposed leash law.

Commissioner Agee voted in support of adopting the law.

Caton said he would still like to hold a work session to discuss options the county might have, and will work to figure out a time when the commission can meet to discuss the issue.

For more from Monday’s meeting, check a future edition of The Clanton Advertiser.