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PTC Council curtails 50-year privilege without any offer of proof

It was a remarkable contrast to watch the mayor and all four council members curtail a unique 50-year PTC liberty without presenting any compelling facts or trends about the scope or seriousness of the dog control issue (and how their proposal would impact it), then immediately watch a fact-filled briefing with carefully compiled slides of quantitative measures about ... garbage pickup.

[Councilman Eric] Imker suggested that voice-only be considered along paths in limited circumstances, but the mayor opined that would be overly complicated and impractical to enforce; no one on council disagreed.

Should we be thankful that they know the police and a minority of voice-control advocates couldn’t understand a leash-only requirement from, say, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.? How do the rest of us ever comply with Georgia’s changing watering rules, outside burning restrictions, and remember when to put the trash out on our own?

Just glad leaders are asking the right questions — At one point, Councilwoman Learnard recited a litany of jurisdictions with leash laws, but apparently neglected to ask (and certainly didn’t report) a word about their effectiveness (“What’s the nuisance and serious incident rate per 1,000 dogs there vs. PTC?”), and whether the difference (if any) justified curtailing liberty.

Good questions, but the message from the dais was a deafening “We don’t know what the real facts are and we’re not going to find out. But we do know we’re in charge and expected to “do something.’”

A nominal, last-minute concession for dogs in a lake and adjoining field may have provided the concession necessary for some council members to rationalize our becoming more like the other jurisdictions, and responsibility was defeated 5-0.

We’re all supposed to be better off now, so why do I have the same feeling I get every time Obama brings us closer to European socialism and insists it’s for own collective good?

Which way did they go? Given the advice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there,” this journey’s off to a great start ... because it’s headed somewhere no one’s bothered defining.

There were no instructions given to assess the impact of a measure that received such “a firestorm of citizen attention.” Nope. But it’d be of limited use anyway, since no one ever presented even a rudimentary baseline for comparison. I suppose not knowing where you want to go is easier if you don’t know where you’ve been or where you are. Can the garbage and recycling analysts help us out a little with this one?

Don’t get involved — Mayor Haddix explained that part of the issue is some incidents going unreported, and he admitted to being in that camp once. I have only a limited description of what actually occurred in his back yard, but would suggest that defending himself with the flat of his shovel against the little biter may have been just the consequence of aggression it needed to stop such behavior. As a minimum, insist the owner control the mutt or report them both.

Even if the action never went to any court (likely), many homeowners’ insurance companies are prone to drop liability coverage on dogs with reported aggressive behavior, placing the owner in the position of covering any subsequent damages from their own checkbook ... or controlling their dog.

If you have a thug in your neighborhood (two- or four-legged), it takes more than the police to deal with the bad actor. The reluctance of victims and witnesses to step forward prolongs the problem and is a weak excuse for curtailing responsible citizens’ liberties.

But it’s done now. The mayor and council can breathe that well-deserved sigh of relief for “mission accomplished.” As leaders, they’ve taken decisive, concrete, enforceable, and clear-cut action. That’s the proverbial good news.

Recognizing that it’s completely irrelevant to the initial complaint, includes no measures of effectiveness, and penalizes the good guys is the bad news. It just smacks too much of a local version of Washington’s intrusion into our lives, a trend so many Americans are fed up with.

Robert Ross

Peachtree City, Ga.


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