West Fork, a town of fewer than 2,500 residents in the northwest corner of The Natural State, took Breed Specific Legislation off the table July 10, instead favoring updates to existing animal services as well as stricter regulations — and punishments — for irresponsible dog owners.
The town had decided to consider a complete ban on Pit Bull Terriers following several incidents in which people were chased or bitten by loose dogs. According to Bless the Bullys, the West Fork ban would have included American Pit Bull Terriers and related breeds, including Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Bulldogs.
The matter was a controversial one in West Fork for several months, prompting many of the town’s residents to participate in town hall meetings where the issue was discussed, many people coming out for and against BSL.
In May, West Fork resident Chad Mills told Arkansas Matters that he favored BSL because of the irresponsible dog owners in his neighborhood and a rash of attacks on family pets by loose dogs: “…our little bitty house dog was attacked by a Pit Bull in our yard, and if people aren’t going to be responsible enough to take care of them, I think we probably need some sort of regulation.”
Dog owner Ronald Sidebottom argued against outlawing Pit Bulls. “I don’t know if we really need a ban,” Sidebottom stressed, “it really relates back to how the dogs are raised and trained.”
West Fork Mayor Frances Hime acknowledges it is the responsibility of the dog’s owner to keep a leash on dog aggression, preventing bites and attacks.
“I understand the feelings completely,” Mayor Hime told Arkansas Matters after a city council meeting about the proposed Pit Bull ban in early May. A former owner of the breed herself, she understands that not all Pit Bulls are the monsters that they are made out to be. “I’ve had a Pit Bull in the past, I had it for many years, they’re sweet and loving,” she said, “but there are people who aren’t responsible.”