After the unfortunate incident where little Javon Roberson, a 7 year old boy, was mauled by a pitbull dog in a Savannah park there have been people stirring about new laws, new ordinances, pitbull bans, aggressive dog laws and such. With this Cheryl LeBon set out on a goal to put major restrictions upon aggressive dogs and pitbulls. Her petition was deemed the “Pitbull Petition”
It was here this took a whole new life in the City of Savannah and its surrounding cities. Cheryl LeBon started a petition stating owners of pitbulls would have to have their dog registered with their neighborhood or a block club if one exists, insure their dog for at least $50,000 as an addition to their home owners insurance, have a visible “beware of dog” sign on their property, have at least an 8 to 12 foot fence surrounding their yard (or a 12x8 foot pen enclosure as noted elsewhere), be responsible for all medical bills of any injury caused by the dog, and pay a $2,000 fine if found not compliant to the new laws.
LeBon is using her Women of Wisdom, non-profit organization, to get this ball rolling. She was petitioning everywhere she could to get her 1000 signatures to present this petition to the city manager of Savannah. From there it went to the police department where it is being looked at to see how best to approach this situation. Noted by the WTOC news on July 25th LeBon said, “I hope between today and Monday that I'll hear from her (city manager) and we can come up with some solutions or resolutions to pit bull and other vicious breed dog problems. In Savannah we have noticeably a lot of pitbulls who are roaming the streets with no collars, no tags, no muzzles, no harness, no anything.” The city manager, Rochelle Small-Tony said in that same news press, “We'll examine what other cities are doing in Georgia, as well as across the nation. We'll take a look at the effectiveness of the existing law and just looking to see what we can do to strengthen it. If Savannah does put forth an ordinance, it will likely be for all breeds.” Mayor Johnson was not happy with how this whole situation was handled either and he expressed his concerns to WTOC by saying “he is outraged the owner of the pitbulls that attacked Roberson were not cited.” The police stated the dog’s owner did not violate any laws so she could not be cited.
LeBon has taken to the streets stating her non-profit organization is involved in helping women get on their feet and helping them when help is needed. She felt that she was helping Jarvon by going on a crusade to punish the pitbull breed for what was done. This then outraged dog lovers far and wide and started a counter pursuit to explain the misunderstood breed. Meryl Cohen orchestrated a Pitbull Seminar where she spoke to the community about pitbulls and other bully breeds and how to better understand them. She answered questions and explained many myths and why they were nothing more than just a myth. Lynn Genshamer, executive director of the Humane Society for Greater Savannah, was also there answering questions and commenting to the community. They stated there is a lot of incorrect information about pitbulls and that most times it is a bad owner not a bad dog. There are always certain situations that no one can explain, but it is not due to a particular breed of dog as any dog can be included in the certain situations no one can explain.
With LeBon, she was targeted about banning pitbulls in Savannah and was asked why. After much debate with the community over this on public forums she is back-tracking and stating her petition is only targeting the owners of the dangerous dogs and not limiting to specifically pitbulls. One of LeBon’s responses was “This is to help get these fighter dogs off the streets after they have been abandoned because of lost fights. Good dog owners will not fit into this petition for the most part other than when downtown and areas where there are large crowds not knowing what triggers a dogs alarm to attack because they are only dogs! We cannot hold them (dogs) accountable for what they do. They only do what their masters teach them.” Therefore she is trying to make it to where pitbulls or fighting dogs will need to be muzzled while downtown. This should make it interesting for people that are vacationing in downtown Savannah and trying to walk there dog as they get slapped with a violation. Per the petition, it would be a $2,000 fine. Once that news spread, people would not come here on vacation that usually traveled with their beloved bully breed. That could potentially hurt the economy for Savannah.
There are other local groups that have come together to offer the City of Savannah a better solution to the pitbull petition as LeBon has presented. This solution is more geared towards owner responsibilities. For more information go here.
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