A Beebe councilman who has been charged with violating the city’s vicious dog ordinance is attempting to have the legislation overturned.
Danny Mahoney, who received a continuance in White County District Court-Beebe Division on July 15, requested Monday night that the council reconsider the ordinance, which was passed in 2017. However, no action was taken. City Council member Tracy Lightfoot asked that the issue be tabled until the August meeting to give the council time to research it and think about it.
Mayor Mike Robertson said a warrant was issued for Mahoney for possessing a pit bull/prohibited animals and he had been given a verbal warning by animal control about it “way back in November.”
“He didn’t comply month after month after month [by] getting rid of his pit bull or his pigs inside the city limits,” Robertson said. “He refused to comply and claimed he was grandfathered in from the 2006 annexation. Of course, that just wasn’t so because the dog was just a year old and the pigs were not that old, either.”
Also, Robertson said there was a case filed against the city of Beebe in 2009 because someone possessed animals that were prohibited, and circuit court found that the city has police powers and ruled in favor of the city.
“It was strictly in the health and welfare of the city that the city could prohibit these animals – goats, sheep, emus; there were a lot of other animals out there, snakes,” he said. “It was appealed to the Arkansas Court of Appeals and they ruled in favor of the city of Beebe. There is basically no defense that you are grandfathered in.”
He said animal control filed an affidavit against Mahoney with the city’s prosecuting attorney and “the prosecutor issued a warrant and he was called and given a court date, and that was two weeks ago.”
Robertson said when the city and Mahoney went to court, “basically there was no defense, other than if he wanted to request that the council rescind, repeal this pit bull ordinance, so he asked that his court date be extended to August so he could address it at this council meeting.
“However, it wasn’t on the agenda. He didn’t put it on the agenda. Last night [Monday], he asked me when I went in about how was he going to be brought up. The attorney [Tess Stewart] had to leave at 7:15 so I said, ‘We will just do it right up front, right out of the gate.’
Robertson said Mahoney told the council that his dog is not a pit bull.
“Of course it is a pit bull. It’s an American bully and the founding breed for the American bully is the American pit bull and the American Staffordshire terrier pit bull,” the mayor said. “He is wanting to repeal the ordinance because he possesses a pit bull inside the city limits.”
According to Robertson, Mahoney hasn’t complied with fencing for the dog, either. He said he asked Mahoney since he claimed it was not a pit bull, did he get the dog tags for it and he said that he hadn’t.
In court, Robertson said Mahoney also promised that he would take the pigs outside of the city limits and allow one of the police officers, Barron Dickson, to inspect, but he never called. Mahoney said at Monday’s meeting that the pigs have been taken to Mount Vernon.
Robertson said as a council member, Mahoney “is asking for something that would be a self-interest, mostly for him.”
“It is just strictly up to the council on how they want to proceed this and which direction they want to go with this,” he said.
It is likely that Mahoney will have to ask for another continuance in court since the next council meeting isn’t until the end of August or he could be found guilty of violating a city ordinance, Robertson said.
During the council’s discussion of the legislation, Council member Matt Dugger asked what the legal ramification would be if the ordinance was repealed and a child got bit.
“None on you all,” Stewart said. “I mean, of course, sure there’s always people being sued for everything but as far as the merits of it, it wouldn’t hold much water because cities are allowed to choose for themselves whether or not they are going to have these kinds of bans or not.”
Robertson said the ordinance allows residents to have four dogs in one residence, and asked, “Are you going to have four pit bulls in one residence of a subdivision?”
After Lightfoot made his motion, all of the council members, including Mahoney, voted to table the ordinance.
Attempts to reach Mahoney for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.