Bluefield, W.Va. reacts to brand new pit bull ban - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Update: Bluefield, W.Va. reacts to brand new pit bull ban

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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. -

If you live in Bluefield, West Virginia and own a pit bull, you might want to take action fast.

The City of Bluefield passed an ordinance banning the breed within city limits by unanimous vote on Wednesday, April 24. The ban went into effect immediately, but current pit bull owners have 10 days to register their dog before the city removes it.

One resident said the new law is long overdue.

"They need to be watched at all times so there's no possible chance for it to get to a child or something. I definitely agree with that," said Mercer County resident Gene James.

Bluefield Mayor Linda Whalen told 59 News the ban's intention is not to take away anyone's dog but rather to limit future populations for the time being. She also said that at any time, this new ordinance can be revisited, changed or lifted.

Prior to Tuesday's new decision, there was already an ordinance in place dealing with pit bulls.

"They are to be on a leash that the owner is in control of, and muzzled. If they are housed outside they need to be in a pen or lot that is fenced or locked and it's to have sides and a roof on it," said Bluefield Mayor Linda Whalen.

Whalen said after the 10 days, if your pit bull is still unregistered you'll be issued a citation to come to city court.

Right now there's only one pit bull in the Mercer County Animal Shelter and he's just a mix. The Director said it's her wish for every owner to register their pit bull so they can stay at home with you and not in the Animal Shelter.

"It's better for an owner to have their dog at home and it's better for the animal. They are much more relaxed at home and they know their surroundings," Mercer County Animal Shelter Director Lisa Williams said.

Mercer County Commissioner Gene Buckner told us the county's Animal Control Officers' will not enforce Bluefield city laws.

"We do have a county Animal Control Officer, actually we have two of them, but they are not employed by Bluefield and they are not in any way shape or form going to enforce Bluefield city ordinances," Commissioner Buckner said.

Commissioner Buckner then went on to say if a pit bull was taken from Bluefield to the Mercer County Animal Shelter, the owner could then come and pick up their dog the same day.

But Mayor Whalen told 59 News if the Mercer County Commission does not comply with Bluefield Municipal Court Order, they will be taken to Circuit Court.

If you have a pit bull in the city limits of Bluefield, West Virginia, it must be registered by Friday, May 3. Registration for your pit bull is free at the Bluefield Police Department.


59 News reporter Jessie Gavin is Working for You to find out how residents of Bluefield are reacting to a unanimous vote to ban pit bulls on Tuesday, April 22.

In Tuesday's city board meeting an ordinance was passed that states no new pit bulls may be owned within the city limits of Bluefield, West Virginia. According to City Attorney Brian Cochran, the ban went into effect immediately. Current pit bull owners have a 10-day grace period to register their dogs with the city.

Jessie Gavin is speaking with lawyers, officials and residents of Bluefield to get their views on the new law.  Stick with 59 News as this story unfolds at 5 and 6 p.m.