However, with two reports of pit bulls attacking other animals in the past month, Henson is cautious in the way these dogs are handled.
Henson spoke to the county Board of Commissioners after a local resident complained that a pit bull attacked his dog.
Art Avedisian of Calhoun said his dog was inside his fence when a pit bull attacked his Pekinese.
“My point is this: a pit bull, at a moment’s notice will turn on you or its owner,” Avedisian said.
Avedisian asked the board to consider measures that would create a pet ordinance that would require animals that are deemed aggressive to remain on a leash or confined inside a fence.
“There should be stronger laws to hold owners responsible,” he said.
Henson said that the county has been fortunate to have escaped a pit bull attack on a human. However, in the past month Henson says animal control has had to respond to two attacks on other dogs.
Henson said that in late April there was a case where a pit bull dug under a fence to attack and eventually kill another dog.
There was a second incident where Henson was called by the sheriff’s office to help capture a rogue pit bull. When the deputy could not calm the animal, the dog was shot to avoid injury to a human or other animal.
“I really think these were isolated incidences,” Henson said.
She said it was easy for any animal to be provoked by another animal, or even a human.
Henson also said that in one of the recent attack cases, the pit bull was after a female in heat, and the pit bull behaved like any dog going after a female in season.
“A male dog gets so intent they will lash out at whatever they view as a threat,” she said.
There are state laws that do require animals to maintain on a leash, and requires, in some cases, for dangerous dogs to be registered under the Dangerous Dog Statute.
However, County Attorney Suzanne Hutchinson says many of those laws are hard to enforce and while dangerous dogs can be registered, specific breeds of dogs can’t be outlawed.
“You can’t make it illegal to own a specific breed,” Hutchinson said.
There is a county-appointed board that does handle these cases. This board is made up of department heads from various county organizations. A citizen concerned over a specific dog can approached the board.
This is a due process procedure, Hutchinson pointed out, and pet owners can petition the board and plead a case.
Henson said the county is cautious when it comes to adopting out pit bulls. She wants to make sure their homes are safe, they won’t be used in dog fighting and people know that pit bulls are a big responsibility.
“They have become a status animal,” she said. “I am very selective when it comes to adopting these dogs. I would rather see an animal put down than go to a bad situation.”
But the shelter is receiving a startling number of pit bulls.
“I would say about 20 percent of the animals we receive are pit bulls,” she said. “A lot of the owners can’t keep them; they’ve become scared of them. But we have had some really nice pit bulls too.”