Dog attack prompts debate in Maumelle and elsewhere

Marcus Higgins was walking his 14-pound Jack Russell terrier mix named “Ruff” on a leash just outside his property in Maumelle on the evening of Aug. 24, when two dogs approached him “at full speed.”

In Higgins’ words, “The aggressor dog jumped up off the ground and hit me in the chest and knocked me to the ground on my back. The pit bull then grabbed Ruff and lifted him up over his head and shook him.”

Higgins says one of the dogs carried Ruff across the street “to finish him off,” prompting him to fire his .380 pistol.

He thought that the dogs would have turned on Ruff again, had Higgins not fired his gun.

Both dogs ran off and Higgins’ wife was able to retrieve Ruff and have him transported to the Arkansas Vet Emergency clinic, where the two “reluctantly agreed to having him put down” due to the severeness of his internal injuries.

The two other dogs, “Zeus” and “Saber,” were taken into protective custody by Maumelle Animal Services.

Shortly after the attack, a petition to humanely euthanize the two aggressor dogs was released by the District Court of Maumelle and Maumelle Animal Services. The hearing is set for Sept. 13.

The dog attack has resurfaced Maumelle’s ongoing debate on whether the suburban city of about 20,000 people should enforce a dangerous-dog ban.

The Maumelle City Council voted 5-3 in April 2021 on an ordinance that lifted a previously enforced pit bull ban.

Now, those in favor of the ban are arguing that the latest attack could have been prevented if the ban had not been lifted.

Maumelle City Code § 10-133 states, “In the case of an attack resulting in severe physical injury to a human … the supervisor of animal services may impound the animal and petition the Maumelle District Court for an order allowing the animal to be humanely euthanized.”

Maumelle City code defines “severe injury” as “any physical injury that results in any of the following…(2) A laceration requiring or that will require multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery.”

The two dogs left Higgins with several injuries – including stitches to the face, mouth and both hands, as well as further injury to a pre-existing spinal fusion, according to a report from Maumelle’s city attorney, Melissa Krebs.

JACKSONVILLE

Just days after the Maumelle attack, Jacksonville’s Pit Bull Committee held a meeting to discuss the idea of ​​altering its existing ordinance on “dangerous dogs.”

Members of the committee said they were not aware of the incident in Maumelle upon arriving at the meeting.

The proposed ordinance for the nearly 30,000 residents of Jacksonville, home of the Little Rock Air Force Base, would not lift the ban. But it would allow individuals to register their pit bulls as long as they meet a list of requirements.

Some of the requirements include: mandatory microchipping, vaccinations, fees, regulated resident fencing and more.

While some committee members were absent, most present members were not in favor of this idea, but voted to bring it to the council at a later date for further discussion.

MAUMELLE

Steve Mosley, a Maumelle City Council member, said in a recent email, “If I could share a recommendation to those at Jacksonville or North Little Rock that may be considering lifting a dangerous dog ban, I’d say don’t do it. “

Mosley is one of three who voted against lifting the ban last year.

“If [these dogs] snap, they can inflict tremendous damage to another animal or human in a matter of a few seconds,” said Mosley.

In the latest Maumelle City Council meeting, one Maumelle resident spoke during the portion for public comments at the start of the meeting and extended her grievance to Higgins on behalf of the whole city. She also asked the council to be mindful of the facts and that it seems that this is the first and only pit bull attack since the ban was lifted over a year ago.

“The city has done their job in this instance. Let’s let them continue to do their job,” she said.

Another resident urged the council to reinstate the ban “immediately.”

Adding, “This could happen anywhere, any time, to anyone in Maumelle because we simply do not have regulation or ordinances in place to protect us, our children or our pets from irresponsible pet owners with dangerous, unpredictable dogs.”

Council Member Jess Holt suggested that the council needs to “come together” and establish a specific committee to give this issue attention and to better navigate the ongoing debate.

“Everybody has their opinion, but the most important thing that we can do — as the council — is come together and be willing to talk to each other and share our thoughts,” said Holt.

Mosley followed Holt’s comments by announcing that he plans to bring a motion to the board on Sept. 19 to reinstate the ban lifted in April of last year.

“Safety, health, and welfare of your residents should be your top priority. If the dangerous dogs aren’t there, then they can’t bite anyone,” said Mosley.

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