The Norman Transcript

Local news

February 19, 2007

Wesselhoft pledges to continue fight against pit bulls.

Transcript Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma could see more attacks by vicious dogs this year, a Cleveland County lawmaker predicted this week; and if those attacks occur, it will be the state Legislature's fault.

At least that's what State Representative Paul Wesselhoft thinks.

A disheartened Wesselhoft said Monday he was "ashamed" that House lawmakers "didn't see the need" for a proposal which allowed cities to outlaw dangerous dogs, such as pit bulls.

And because of the Legislature's lack of action, Wesselhoft said "more tragic stories of dog attacks may occur as a result."

Wesselhoft's proposal, House Bill 1082, would have returned the right to outlaw specific breeds of dogs to cities and towns. The measure also would give county governments authority to approve ordinances regarding dangerous dogs when they see a public health risk.

Earlier this month, the bill received a rare, "do not pass" motion in committee from state Rep. Sue Tibbs.

Tibbs, a Tulsa Republican, told The Transcript last week she thought the proposal was a "bad bill" and that pit bulls were no more dangerous than other dogs.

"Animals are like people," she said. "Some are just bad, some are not. But most are good-natured and take on the nature of their owner." A dog owner herself, Tibbs said her daughter has owned "more than one pit bull" and those dogs "were some of the sweetest dogs that I've been around."

Tibbs' motion, however, didn't receive a second and last week, and HB 1082 found itself in legislative purgatory.

This week, Wesselhoft tried again.

House Bill 1082 was heard again Monday by the House County and Municipal Government Subcommittee and, for the second time, failed to receive support. This, after members failed to second a "do pass" motion made by Rep. Charlie Joyner; the lack of the second effectively neutralized the bill.

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