Director of Bartow County Animal Control Debbie Elrod said although the Bartow County Sheriff's Office report indicated the dogs bit at the pants of a man riding a bicycle, the canines did not bite the victims or break the skin.
"[The owner] does have a right to keep his dogs," she said, adding the man received a leash law violation citation for failure to control the animals. "Potentially dangerous [means] any dog that actually shows the intent to bring harm to somebody else -- if they have that potential or they show that then they can be classified as what call potentially dangerous dogs.
"What that means is the man will have to keep them in the house all the time. If he takes them outside for any reason, they have to be kept in a pen that meets the requirements that we recommend. If he takes them out to walk them or anything of that nature, they have to leashed and muzzled. He would also have to pay a $100-a-year registration fee just so that we can keep up with him and know where the dogs are all the time."
Requirements for possessing dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs in Bartow County's Animal Control Ordinance include a minimum 100-square-foot secure enclosure at least 10 feet from all property lines that must remain locked when the dog is inside, warning signs conforming to state mandates and a $15,000 personal injury insurance policy.
Dangerous dogs -- those that have severely injured a person without provocation or those that aggressively bite, attack or endanger the safety of people without provocation -- and potentially dangerous dogs are not allowed within 300 feet of schools, and are subject to confiscation.
Elrod said after the classification procedure is complete, authorities could confiscate the canines involved in the Sunday incident if they were found outside the home unleashed or if the owner otherwise failed to follow ordinances.
Local animal control ordinances do not differentiate between breeds, but following a series of pit bull attacks in metro Atlanta, one city is considering an outright ban of the breed. A July pit bull incident involving a Douglasville resident -- who required hundreds of stitches to her face, arms and legs after three pit bulls attacked her as she walked in a neighborhood -- is one of the reasons the Douglasville City Council is considering the ordinance, according to published reports.
"You're opening up a huge can of worms when you try to single out a specific breed of dog because I have probably more dog bites in Bartow County -- and we've worked a good many of them this year -- but the majority of my bites have been from a mixed-breed dog, just mutts more or less," Elrod said. "I don't have that many bites that are reported from a pit bull. I've had more bites from small breed dogs and personal pets than anything."
She added that a dog classified as potentially dangerous in Bartow County could range from a Chihuahua to a pit bull to any other type of dog.
"I just think the problem is not the breed, it's the owner. People don't want to take the initiative and [Douglasville] had tons of people that showed up protesting what they're trying to do. ... It's just like me and you having the same rights. If you've got a pit bull dog and [someone else has] a German shepherd dog, they've got the same rights," Elrod said. "That's what you're looking at and people just aren't going to stand for it. They feel like they have a right to have whatever type or breed of dog they want."
The problem lies with owners who teach and train canines to fight and be aggressive, according to Elrod.
"Or they just bully them around when they're little -- slapping at them, kicking at them, scaring them, just doing things to make them mean. They just aggravate them and you can't treat dogs like that. You've go to treat them like a family member," she said.