The Helena-West Helena City Council agrees it’s time to crack down on stray dogs roaming the streets.


The Helena-West Helena City Council agrees it’s time to crack down on stray dogs roaming the streets.
 West Helena resident Flora Edwards got the attention of Mayor James Valley and the council Tuesday night when she explicitly reported about a “pack of dogs” causing heavy damage to her vehicle and killing a neighbor’s cat.
 Edwards told the council the damage to her vehicle was created when a neighbor let his dogs out late at night and they got into a fight with another neighbor’s cat in her carport.
 “A neighbor told me four or five dogs climb under and over my car,” Edwards said.
Laymon Piercy, himself a former alderman in the late 1960s, told Valley and council “People are letting dogs dog loose at night and something needs to be done about that.”
Aldermen Joe St. Columbia Sr. pointed to the city’s code enforcement department to control the stray dog problem.
 “We’re back to dogs again,” St. Columbia said. “Aren’t those dogs who attacked her (Edwards’ car) vicious?”
 Valley said the city’s animal control officer needs the council’s approval to pick up “dead, sick and vicious dogs” and take them to the veterinarian and others wearing a tag should be returned to the owner.
   Aldermen Bruce Hudson said all stray dogs should be apprehended and be taken to the veterinarian. Hudson said the vet would have two options: hold them for the owners or euthanize the animals.
 Valley said the city had been “through this for nearly two years” and that it was time for the city to “give citizens relief.”
    Valley caught widespread media attention in 2008 when he ordered all stray dogs to be taken to the St. Francis National Forest and released.  After the media flap, Valley declared a moratorium on picking up stray dogs.
    Alderman Tommy Hunt said the dog issue had “gotten out of hand” and it was time for the council to take action.
 St. Columbia said pet owners should be held accountable for their animals.
   City Attorney Andre Valley retorted that pet owners “do not heed the law.”
   St. Columbia fired back: “Then put them away (euthanize the dogs).”
   Mayor Valley noted that the city allotted money recently for a spaying/neutering clinic held recently.
   Alderman Jay Hollowell said the city needed to confer with the Humane Society of Phillips County before taking action to euthanize stray dogs.
 Mayor Valley replied: “Not all stray dogs need to be put to sleep.”
 Hudson said the city needed to enforce its dog lease law.
 Valley changed his stance after Tuesday’s council meeting stating that the policy should be expanded beyond picking up dead, sick or vicious dogs.
Hollowell offered the motion to expand the policy for picking up strays. Alderman Joey Grubbs second the motion and the proposal passed by a 7-2 vote.