"We want to let people know that one, they're illegal," Interim Police Chief Travis Shelton said. "And two, we don't know if people are just thumbing their nose at the ordinance, or if they don't know it's a law. Also, the police department's stance is we're going to be more aggressive in enforcing these ordinances."
Shelton said there have been some cases of dog bites lately, dogs becoming vicious with people or other animals, and dogs running loose, which is also against city ordinance.
"It's against the law to have them within the city limits," he said. "We've had an influx of vicious dog complaints. We have two open pit bull cases pending right now. We've also had police officers bitten (by vicious dogs) trying to enforce ordinances."
Shelton said he knows there are some pit bulls currently out in the community and the city's animal shelter is currently home to two of them.
"We want people to contact the police department if they see a violation of the ordinance," he said. "I know people who are harboring pit bulls."
The city's code states that it is "unlawful to keep, harbor, or in any way possess within the corporate limits of the city" any vicious dog or other animal such as a pit bull, which is defined by statute as the bull terrier breed of dog, the Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog, the American pit bull terrier breed of dog, the American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog, any dog of mixed breed or other breeds than above listed which breed or mixed breed is known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers, or any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of" any of the previously mentioned breeds, or "a combination of any of these breeds."
"We get them in town," Shelton said.
Officers sometimes deal with vicious dogs around drug activity in town, Shelton said.
Shelton said the ordinance also includes details on registration of dogs, such as fees and fines.
Any dog running at large is also prohibited by law within the city limits and is punishable by fine. Annoying or disturbing dogs are also prohibited. Dog owners can be cited for not registering their dogs or not having them vaccinated, the law states.
Dog owners are required to renew their animal's registration by June 1 each year, Shelton said.
All the violations listed in the city ordinance are misdemeanors and carry various fines.
Dog owners can also be cited for not having dogs vaccinated.
Police officers typically deal each day with several animal control problems such as "dead animal pick up," "dead deer," "dog off its leash," or "dead cat in the road," Shelton said.
Dogs that are impounded are typically held until the police department has submitted all citations and other important documentation and the court releases a ruling on the particular case.
Each case usually involves the presentation of witnesses and evidence, and someone who has issued a complaint, Shelton said.
Shelton said he has seen cases of dogs being put down after a case ends.
It is possible for impounded dogs to be reunited with their owners if the court finds that the owner will move the animal from the city limits.
According to the ordinance, "...the municipal judge decides that a dog is vicious and liable to bite and attack persons within the corporate limits of the city or has bitten or attacked any person, the municipal judge shall order and direct that said dog be killed."