City of Clay to defend pit bull ban in court Tuesday

The city of Clay will defend its Vicious Dog Ordinance Tuesday morning in court. The city council passed the ordinance last year. It bans pit bulls. Mayor Charles Webster calls it the biggest safety issue in Clay since he's been elected. The ordinance bans citizens from getting pit bulls, going forward. But, for those who already own one, it grandfathers them in if they register their dog with the city. "I hope we can keep the ordinance in place just for the protection of the citizens, and if you have a pit bull in the city of Clay, you know, we're not going to come knocking on your door," explained Webster. "We just ask that you do the right thing. Keep the dog up, Keep it on a leash. Do not let it loose to where it could injure a child or another person." But some neighbors in Clay disagree with the ordinance. "They shouldn't even be involved in that," said Ross Shores. "It has nothing to do with the city of Clay, so you can't pick out just one breed of dog and just ban it from a city." Shores and his two year old daughter live in the city of Clay next door to a house with a pit bull. {}His neighbors, in fact, are the ones suing the city over its Vicious Dog Ordinance. "I understand there's a mean breed of dogs, but it's all in how they're raised," said Shores. {}"So, as long as they raise them nice, I have no problem with it. They should not have to have a muzzle on in their own backyard." Muzzles and leashes are part of the requirements of the ordinance for grandfathering in pit bulls that are already owned by clay citizens. Shores believes the pit bull in his neighborhood is far from dangerous. He describes how his neighbor's pit bull plays with his daughter, "She'll just run up to the fence, stick her hand up through and Emma will just lick her up and down. Wag her tail, play with her." Mayor Webster argues that's not the case for all pit bulls. "With what was going wrong around the country, and around in Riverside, certain areas, Tuscaloosa. Right around us close where kids and people have been injured and killed by pit bulls," said Webster. "That was the issue. And I don't want that to happen in Clay, especially anybody killed by a pit bull." A trial to determine if the ordinance is constitutional begins at nine in the morning Tuesday at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Center Point, Irondale, and Gardendale each also has an ordinance banning or restricting pit bulls.