LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Acity ordinance in Columbia would see higher registration fees associated with specific types of dogs known as bully breeds.

A group of the dogs and their owners showed up at the South Carolina Statehouse Sunday afternoon, fighting that increase.

"It's actually a people problem, not an animal problem," said Tom Coolidge, who came from Lexington to take part with his dog, Tyson, a pit-bull mix.

What is normally a monthly walk of a few dozen people and their canine partners turned into a stream of nearly 100 people turning out in opposition of the draft ordinance by Columbia City Council.

"We feel very passionately about it," said organizer of the walk and Founder of Columbia Bully Walk, John Willmon, "and we just want to come out and make our voices heard before it even gets that far."

Willmon said about about 15-35 people normally participate in their walks on the third Sunday of each month, but Sunday's turnout was "larger than their normal walks."

One woman even traveled from Georgia to show support.

The pit bulls and pit bull-mixed dogs, known as Bully breeds, were brought out after the possible ordinance was brought up at a Columbia City Council work session last week.

They have been long thought to be more prone to violence...but owners say they are just like any other dog.

"Ihave lots of dogs, and training a pit is no different than training other dog(s)," said Jean Bracey of Columbia. "They are real smart, real intelligent, and very loyal to their families."

Supporters of the ordinance say there are too many pits bulls out there...and they can't all find a home.

The Columbia Animal Shelter says it puts down about 700 pit bulls each year, officials said.

A bully ordinance would stiffen city registration fees for Bully breeds, and Columbia City Councilman Cameron Runyan, who is drafting the measure believes it's needed.

"Whenever a pit bull ends up at the shelter, almost all of them are euthanized," Runyan said Tuesday. "So we want to try to control those populations as much as possible."

For the many owners standing with their dogs against the measure Sunday, the problem is not with too many of one breed-mix.Instead, they say it's because owners may not be taking care of the ones they already have.

"Well it's very important for people to be responsible pet owners," said Coolidge. "That includes taking care of their animals and training them and helping them learn to be social."

Discussion of the ordinance hinted at allowing owners to be able to own three dogs instead of two.

No time frame has been set for when council will revisit the issue, butRunyan hopes there is movement on it soon.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wltx.com/1etnZLv