The Hattiesburg City Council received the second draft of the city’s proposed animal control ordinance after the American Kennel Club issued an alert less than a week before the ordinance was to be presented.


The City Council received the second draft on Tuesday, Sept 3, when the city’s Citizen Service Coordinator, Joe Paul, gave the city’s responses to the AKC alert and outlined the timeline for the city’s actions in updating the 1982 ordinance.


Paul has been working on rewriting the ordinance after several individuals said they were concerned about animal problems during an April Citizens’ Forum. The ordinance was to be updated with two goals:


  • To continue to assure the healthy and humane treatment of domestic pets in the city.
  • To enhance the safety of citizens and pets against the threats of nuisance, potentially dangerous, dangerous or vicious domestic animals.


The second draft was introduced to the City Council, which tabled the decision to consider it pending another rewrite to include recent suggestions from the American Kennel Club.


Mayor Toby Barker said the AKC alert could have been overreach over the situation.


Toby Barker

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker


“In today’s political times, the immediate reaction is to sometimes get angry, believe the worst and share on Facebook,” he said. “But, I hope that we have been very transparent about the process.”


Paul said work on retooling the 1982 city ordinance began after citizen concerns were expressed five months ago.


Joe Paul, Customer Service Coordinator

Customer Service Coordinator Joe Paul


“Based on citizens’ complaints especially around three vicious attacks and nuisance hardships that we all heard earlier this year, and at the request of Councilmembers, the administration began the task of revisiting the 1982 Animal Control Ordinance,” he said.



Of the 14 claims included in the AKC’s alert about the city’s second draft of the animal control ordinance, Hattiesburg officials responded that eight accusations were false, of which five were either inflammatory or misleading. Two claims by the American Kennel Club – limiting all residents to six animals and premises where animals are maintained are subject to inspection – are both the current law included in the 1982 ordinance.


The Hattiesburg City Council’s next meeting dates are 4 p.m. Sept 16 to set the agenda and 5 p.m. Sept 17 for the official meeting.


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