Experts Question Pit Bull Ban's Legality

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Is the new ordinance in Madisonville banning pit bulls illegal? Some legal experts say yes.

In the days following KBTX's report on the ordinance's passing last week, hundreds of comments have come to KBTX.com from across the country and around the world, many of them claiming the ordinance is illegal.

According to Chapter 822.047 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, additional rules regarding dangerous dogs can be enacted by counties or cities if those requirements or restrictions "are not specific to one breed or several breeds of dogs."

Section 2 of the Madisonville ordinance enacted last week states, "it shall be unlawful to keep, harbor, own, or in any way possess a pit bull dog within the corporate limits of Madisonville."

Click on the link below this story to read the Madisonville ordinance in its entirety, along with the Texas Health and Safety Code.

"I have not seen, in Texas, anybody outright ban a breed, like pit bulls, because there's a state law against it, so this is probably marking new territory," said Shane Phelps, who serves as Brazos Animal Shelter president, and has been involved with numerous legal cases involving animals as a prosecutor.

"It's the same as you can't do a class of people," added Jay Sabatucci, the director of the Texas office for the Humane Society of the United States. "You can't do a class of breed. There's going to be too many exceptions to the rule. They're basically throwing out the baby with the bathwater."

The city attorney for Madisonville, John Bankhead, declined an on-camera opportunity to discuss the ordinance, though he did note that it is two-fold. Article 1 of the document concerns pit bulls. Article 2 regulates dangerous dogs.

Bankhead said they are fully aware of the health and safety code, and that it's time for change to it.