After voting down a similar measure a few months ago, the Lafourche Parish Council approved a revamped ordinance requiring owners of vicious animals to carry insurance and register, license and tag the animal.
Additionally, there is a $200 permit fee for anyone wishing to breed vicious animals.
Councilman John Arnold defines a vicious animal as one that has attacked or attempted to attack someone in an unprovoked manner. This excludes attacks that could be deemed defense of owner if the owner or dog is provoked or in the case of a home break-in.
The microchip would allow an owner to quickly find its animal if it gets loose, and in the case of the animal attacking a victim while loose, it would allow the victim to be able to find out who is responsible for the animal in order to recoup medical bills, lost wages or anything else that results from the injuries.
The measure passed 7-2 with council chairman Daniel Lorraine and vice-chairman Jerry LaFont voting against it.
Arnold, the sponsor of the ordinance, said he feels it is a fair one that the parish needs it at this time. He said there have been five unprovoked pitbull attacks in the parish since the last time he proposed a similar ordinance in May after saying there had been four such attacks at the August’s first council meeting two weeks prior.
Arnold said his previous proposed ordinance, which failed 6-1 with two absences, would have levied fees on responsible animal owners instead of targeting irresponsible animal owners like his revamped proposed ordinance does.
He added that it costs about $35 a month for insurance, and between a $35 and $60 one-time cost to chip the animal.
“If you have a vicious animal and you know in the back of your mind that you love this animal that is in your family, a family member, nobody’s trying to take it away, but if you’re gonna have a type of animal like this, then it’s your responsibility to carry insurance on it. Because if it does get loose, it does bite somebody accidentally, then that victim can be compensated,” Arnold said.
Lorraine, however, worries that the parish will be unable to enforce the ordinance, and those who choose not to follow it will not be held accountable.
“I don’t wanna see anybody get killed… But the problem with government is you’re putting too many laws and rules on people and not everybody follows them. This is gonna be on a piece of paper. Is it gonna be enforced? Probably not,” said the council chairman. “ … I just think that there’s too many restrictions… and even though you pass it, there will be people who won’t follow it because you got some people who just don’t care.”
Councilman L. Phillip Gouaux, on the other hand, thinks the ordinance will enlighten a lot of people who own vicious or potentially vicious animals throughout the parish.
“Yeah, the parish won’t be able to patrol everybody, but if you have a vicious dog, if the law gets involved and you don’t meet the requirements, then you’re gonna suffer the consequences, and that’s the motivation that I see behind this,” Gouaux said.
LaFont voted against the measure, citing the slippery slope of approving ordinances such as this one.
More kids die annually from choking on a hot dog than getting killed by animals. So we gonna stop the stores from selling weenies? More kids are killed from drunk drivers every year than pitbulls, so let’s close all bars,” said LaFont sarcastically. “Let’s close all the grocery stores. Let’s stop them from selling alcohol.
“There becomes a time where legislation becomes overboard,” he added. “And look, I’m an animal lover, and I feel for anybody who gets bit by a dog. But I also feel for anybody that gets hit by a drunk driver, and I also feel anytime a kid gets killed by swallowing a hit dog or a grape – those were the two leading causes. But we can’t regulate everything in this world.”
Councilman Aaron Caillouet responded to LaFont’s remarks by saying the council needs to put things in perspective.
“We’re talking about vicious animals. We’re not talking about anything else… We’re talking about vicious animals that kill kids, and if we can do something to prevent that or at least hopefully improve the situation, we should,” Caillouet said.