VIDEO: Fort Payne council votes to allow ‘Death Penalty’ for vicious dogs
May 16, 2017
Southern Torch (3574 articles)

VIDEO: Fort Payne council votes to allow ‘Death Penalty’ for vicious dogs

PHOTO: Fort Payne City Attorney Rocky Watson discusses a revised ordinance on, “Addressing Animal Controls Within the City” at today’s (May 16) council meeting. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — (Video at the Bottom)  On Tuesday, May 16, the Fort Payne City Council passed a revised ordinance on, “Addressing Animal Controls Within the City.” This comes a day after the Rainsville City Council passed a revision to their ordinance on “Responsible Pet Ownership.” The new animal control ordinances come in the wake of the dog attack on a retired pastor in Rainsville, Alabama. In Fort Payne, the ordinance passed is numbered 2017-07, amending Ordinance 2013-12.

“This ordinance adds a section that allows the euthanization of a convicted animal,” said Fort Payne City Clerk Andy Parker.

“In other words, the animal is now subject to the death penalty,” then said Fort Payne City Attorney Rocky Watson.

Councilman Wade Hill explained the ordinance, “This is a process we’re bringing to a close I hope, before we ever need it, but we’ve talked about this for several months, about the need to have something to add to our existing ordinance.”

Hill continued: “If you have a dog that’s basically deemed a ‘vicious animal,’ it doesn’t have to bite somebody, if it’s deemed to be a vicious animal by it’s actions or molestation of passersby on a public way, then that dog is deemed a vicious animal by the chief of police, and if that animal, subsequently to that, has another incident, than it can be deemed by the chief judge to be euthanized. That of course can be appealed up to the circuit court I guess.”

“It can, and it’s not an absolute requirement,” answered Watson. “I mean you wouldn’t want a situation where somebody goes over and kicks a dog thats been labeled as a vicious dog and then it bites them. You have to put some reliance in your city judge to be able to look at the circumstances to make a determination whether this is a dog that’s dangerous to be euthanized.”

Hill then further explained, “This will give everyone due process, the potential victim and the dog owner, they will have the opportunity to argue this before the judge before any decision is made; so we’re not going out and just killing dogs. But it does give us the ability to start policing these dogs a little bit better.”

“What I would encourage the public to do, that if you’ve got a dog that’s chasing people, thats walking, jogging, or whatever, you need to make a report. Start the process, document it and then we can take care of it properly. But it starts with documentation, if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen. Help us help you, and this gives us the final piece of this puzzle,” said Hill.

Hill also explained that the city has had a similar ordinance already on the books for years, and it covers not only dogs, but also other animals within the city limits.

“This ordinance also covers nuisance animals also. And with that I went congratulate Jimmy and the inspection crew. They’re trying to police the downtown area for the livestock that’s wandered into town, that are be raising for food,” said Hill.

“The chickens are being caught that are loose. If you have chickens in town, that’s ok, as long as you keep them on your property and don’t have a rooster,” said Hill. “So if you’ve got chickens running loose, you need to put them up.”

Councilman Gerald “Red” Taylor then pointed out, that “vicious” and “nuisance” aren’t the same thing in the ordinance, “To reiterate what you said, an animal doesn’t have to be necessarily vicious to be a nuisance. If you read the ordinance and read the definitions, just a dog that’s interfering with you enjoying your property or enjoying whatever you want to do, is considered, according to the definition, is a nuisance animal.”

Councilman Johnny Eberhart pointed out the importance of notifying police in the event of a vicious or nuisance animal: “I get a lot of complaints from people about dogs, I asked them, ‘have you called anybody?’ and they say, ‘No,’ said Eberhart. “We can’t ride around the neighborhood and see who’s dogs’ is going to bother somebody. People have got to call in, or we don’t know about.”

“They’ve got to call in,” Eberhart stated.

The council then suspended the rules and adopted the new ordinance by means of roll call vote after the first reading.

The text of the ordinance establishing the “dog death penalty,” in Section 5, ‘Penalties’ by stating, “Should any dog, subsequent to the owner thereof being notified that it has been classified as a vicious dog, the court, shall, have the discretion to order said dog euthanized.” 

A vicious dog is defined in the ordinance as, “a dog which has, at any time, attacked or bitten a person off the premises of the dog’s owner or keeper, a dog who molests passers-by who are lawfully on a public street, in a public park or on school grounds, whether or not such dog is on a public street.” 

Watch the Full Video:

Other items addressed by the Council:

  • Passed Ordinance 2017-06, abolishing the Office of Probation Supervision.
  • Passed Resolution 2017-28, declaring Public Works Department dozer surplus. The Caterpillar DC-3. The dozer will be auctioned off
  • Notified the public that the city would be enforcing business licenses.
  • Set public hearing for June 10th to receive comments on proposed Ordinance 2017-08, authorizing amendments to the zoning ordinance.
  • The city voted to authorize an employee to handle purchasing for the city.
  • Authorized an expenditure for the appraisal of the Mapco at the corner of 5th and Gault Avenue North for $4500.00.
  • Authorized the installation of a speed table on Skyline Avenue to slow down traffic.

Mayor’s Report:

  • The city received a bid to put handrails on the bleachers in the DeKalb Theater. The council voted to suspend the rules and approved the purchase by means of roll call vote.
  • The mayor also discussed the marque on the DeKalb Theater. The city has spent $18,457.00 in last 10 years on repairs, but has spent $8338.00 of that in the last three years. “We’re going to have to do some structural work,” said Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser. The council concluded that if replaced, that like the sign to still retain it’s “nostalgic” look.
  • Air Conditioning at the Senior Center The mayor explained that the city would eventually have to replace all 7 air conditioners, that are over twenty years old. The mayor said he received bids on replacing the air conditioners, which would cost $4800.00 per unit. The mayor agreed to talk to the county commission about sharing the costs, and signing a new contract.
Southern Torch

Southern Torch


  1. BLG
    BLG May 16, 20:56
    Will the vicious dog that attracted the pastor be euthanized?
  2. BLG
    BLG May 16, 20:58
    Will the vicious dog that attacked the pastor be euthanize as required by the new law?
  3. Steve Allen Graves
    Steve Allen Graves May 17, 13:16
    If the preacher was trying to convert the dog, I'm on the dog's side. Seriously though, if the dog had bitten a Hispanic, this ordinance would have never been discussed.

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