New Trend? Greenville, Mississippi Sneaks BSL Past Constituents & Dog Lobby

In what one can hardly believe is an accident, the city of Greenville, Mississippi attempted what looks like an end-around of the dog lobby, and even their own constituents, when they added a request for a “pit bull” ban to their city council agenda at the last minute.   After perusing the Mississippi Open Meetings Act, one must ask, were Greenville citizens, and the greater public, given at least 5 days notice that a request to draft a “pit bull” ban was on the Greenville City Council agenda?   If they were, it was barely 5 days.  

The Mississippi Open Meetings Act states that,

(3)(a) Notice of any meetings held pursuant to subsection (2) of this section shall be provided at least five (5) days in advance of the date scheduled for the meeting.   The notice shall include the date, time, place and purpose for the meeting and shall identify all locations for the meeting available to the general public.   All persons attending the meeting at any of the public meeting locations shall be afforded the same opportunity to address the public body as persons attending the primary or central location… (emphasis mine).

Yes, the agenda, signed by Mayor John H. Cox, III, was signed on July 19, which is technically 5 days before the meeting, but barely, especially since those aren’t even 5 business days.   So I think it safe to say that while Greenville may   have followed the letter of the law, they did not follow the spirit for which the Open Meetings Act exists.

One also wonders if the council’s plans to pursue a “pit bull” ban were purposely kept out of the media as well since even the Delta Democrat-Times, the local paper, didn’t publish an article about Greenville’s request for a “pit bull” ban until 11 a.m., a mere 5 hours before the meeting! (The Delta Democrat-Times also requires a paid subscription which would likewise keep out-of-towners from knowing what was going on, and since their article didn’t appear until several hours before the meeting, it also wouldn’t show up in people’s Google Alerts.)

Just to be clear, it does not appear that Greenville was voting to ban “pit bulls” yesterday, but to authorize the drafting of a ban.   Their agenda reads,

Authorizing the City Attorney to draft a proposed Ordinance amending Chapter 8, Article II, Division 4, revising Sections 8-116 and 8-117 banning pit bulls within the City limits and allowing the current pit bull dog owners up to ninety (90) days to cure or remove pit bulls from within the City limits.

Adding to existing BSL or outright banning breeds after initially passing BSL is a trend we’ve been seeing lately.   How ridiculous to believe that if your current breed-specific ordinance isn’t working that you should add on to it or seek an out-and-out ban.   Right, because the people who already aren’t abiding by the current BSL will just suddenly start abiding by a ban.  

There will always be scofflaws, but they are a scant fraction of the responsible dog owners whose rights Greenville is trampling on with their specious reasoning.   Again, how absurd to think more BSL will suddenly be efficacious when existing BSL already isn’t working.

Additionally, the ordinance, once drafted and approved, would outright ban “pit bulls” from Greenville and does not even allow for a “grandfather clause” giving “pit bull” owners a mere 90 days to remove their dogs from the city limits!

It seems pretty clear that Greenville knew their “pit bull” ban ordinance would be met with a resounding backlash.   As such, maybe in order to avoid the inevitable barrage of criticism, from their constituents and dog lovers across the country, they just snuck BSL on to the agenda, hoping nobody would notice.    

So ask yourself this Greenville City Council: If what you’re doing isn’t unconstitutional, unlawful, or even immoral, then why do you have to play games?   Why do you have to keep what you know is a contentious item out of the press, and keep things from your constituents and the public at large, if what you’re doing is above-board?  

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