By Alton Mitchell
LaFayette city Councilwoman Tammie B. Williams is extremely concerned for residents in her district mostly in the area of 1st Avenue N.E. Councilwoman Williams states that roaming and unsecured dogs in the neighborhood have been terrorizing area residents and the situation is one that needs to be addressed.
Councilwoman Williams states that there are several dogs in the area that roam the street, but she is most concerned with a female Pitbull and her puppies that have been spotted in the area of 1st Avenue N.E. and have had a history of terrorizing local pedestrians.
Councilwoman Williams acknowledges her fears grew following the January 17th incident in Atlanta, Ga when two small children walking to school were mauled by two dogs that were not properly harnessed. One of those dogs has been confirmed to be a Pitbull mix. The incident in Atlanta left 6-year-old Logan Braatz dead and 5-year-old Syria Sanders seriously injured.
The incident in Atlanta is similar to what Councilwoman Williams states is happening in LaFayette. She states that the owners of the dogs are letting them roam and they are terrorizing the local neighborhood. In Atlanta the situation with the menacing dogs had been ongoing and several of the neighbors knew what was occurring. Police had to fatally shoot one of the dogs in Atlanta and the second was taken into custody by animal control. The owner of those dogs has been charged with manslaughter in relationship to the fatal attack.
Councilwoman Williams states she is very worried that a similar incident could happen locally. She explains an incident that she received a call about from one of the constituents of her district is the main reason she is wanting to bring light to the situation.
In that recent incident a woman in her middle 60’s was walking along 1st Avenue N.E. with her nephew who is a 5th grade student in LaFayette. While walking the Pitbull and her puppies exited one of the yards and began to chase after the pair of pedestrians. They were so fearful that they could not walk home, but were able to get a ride in a vehicle according to Williams.
Councilwoman Williams states that she would like to see LaFayette’s leash laws enforced. In addition she would also like to see pet owners take responsibility for their animals. “I would like to see proper restraints used if it includes a cage or a dog house as well as community education,” explains Williams. She also has concerns on the possibility of a negative impact on the city of LaFayette if one of these encounters does turn violent.
LaFayette Superintendent of Streets and Sanitation George Green explains that right now his department has an interim employee working to assist with dog catching responsibilities in LaFayette. Right now the city of LaFayette does not have a full time animal control officer, but there is an individual who is filling in to assist with responsibilities associated with animal control in the city.
According to the American Humane Society that if an individual feels they may be attacked by a dog there are several steps that person can take to try to deescalate the encounter. First the Humane Society states to remain calm and resist the urge to scream or run away. Secondly you should not appear threatening to the animal this means remain motionless, keep hands at your side and attempt to avoid eye contact with the dog. At this point the dog may lose interest in you and at this point you should slowly begin to back away until you are out of sight of the dog.
The Humane Society does state if you are attacked by a dog to “feed” them your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything you can put between yourself and the dog. If for some reason during the encounter you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. The Humane Society warns you should not scream or roll around when in this situation.
Councilwoman Williams states that she does not believe the dogs that have been terrorizing 1st Avenue N.E. are strays. She is unaware how they are getting out of the yard if they are able to break restraints or are just roaming free, but she would like the owners to take time to properly restrain them before an incident like Atlanta unfolds in LaFayette.