A family in Moreauville should be able to keep their pet dog Zeus after an alderman said they plan to overturn an ordinance banning pit bulls and rottweilers. Zeus is pictured with one of his owners O’Hara Owen. (Courtesy of Damon Rabalais/
An alderman in the Louisiana village of Moreauville said on Monday (Nov. 24) the village board will likely soon get rid of a recently passed ordinance banning pit bulls and rottweilers after a local family’s plea for the village to do so sparked national attention and Internet outrage almost overnight.
Alexandria TV station KALB interviewed a Moreauville mother and her daughter Friday (Nov. 21) about a notice they received from the town that said they must get rid of their pet pit bull, Zeus, by Dec. 1, or he would be removed and euthanized.
Daughter O’Hara Owen, who uses a wheelchair and wears a halo brace because of neck problems, later told CNN the dog helps monitor the spasms she sometimes has at night, awaking her mother when they occur.
The number of signatures signed to an online petition called “Save Zeus” grew from about 77,600 signatures on Sunday morning to 200,600 Monday evening. The number of “Saving Zeus” Facebook page likes more than doubled from about 14,000 on Sunday to more than 29,000 on Monday.
Moreauville Alderman Penn Lemoine said the city board of aldermen, which is comprised of three aldermen and the mayor, will soon have a special meeting to address the “vicious dog” ordinance following all of the backlash. They’ll likely overturn the ban and perhaps replace it with another measure, he said.
The village has already abandoned the Dec. 1 deadline. No pets of any breed will be seized. Lemoine acknowledged the ordinance called for the animals to be euthanized.
“It was a mistake,” he said. “And it’s got to be redone and reworded. And this Dec. 1 date is not going to happen.”
The alderman passed the ordinance after a number of residents in the village of 950 people complained they couldn’t walk around their neighborhood because some vicious dogs of those breeds weren’t properly bound and began to chase them. Part of the problem the village might need to instead address, Lemoine said, is properly enforcing the village’s leash ordinance rather than banning certain dogs.
President Barack Obama has publicly voiced his opposition to any laws that ban specific breeds.
“We’ll get legal counsel to help us formulate something that’s going to try to keep the dogs off the street,” Lemoine said.
Twenty-five people showed up to the public hearing before the aldermen passed the ordinance in October. Twenty-three people were in favor of the ordinance, and two were against it, he said. Those two were members of the family that owns Zeus.
“If (they had) come forward and told us basically (Zeus was) sort of a therapy for their daughter, it think it would have made (the situation) a lot different,” Lemoine said. “I know in my eyes I wouldn’t want to see (Zeus taken away).”
Since the story has been featured on CNN, “The View,” USA Today, animal advocacy station “Passionate About Pets” and a number of other media outlets, Moreauville — especially Lemoine — has been the target of negative attention mostly from animal activists, he said.
“Some people are criticizing me, calling me Nazi and gutless and heartless and all kind of bad stuff,” Lemoine said. “I know they’re aggravated but … it sort of got blown out of proportion.”
Owen’s mother Joanna Armand told CNN Zeus is more like a family member than a pet.
“He’s been a brother to all of my kids, and he’s been a baby to me,” she said.
Clarification: An earlier version of this headline omitted the word “position,” in reference to alderman Penn Lemoine’s position on the pit bull/rottweiler ban. It was added to address confusion expressed by some readers, who said the headline incorrectly suggested the ordinance has been overturned.