Can I have a pit bull where I live in Mississippi?

Yes, I realize that after yesterday’s Dog Bite Laws in Mississippi post, this is the second post in two days about dogs.  I had this information from previous dog bite cases our firm has handled and intended to update it for last last week’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, but got tied up with other commitments until this week.

Often created in response to high profile dog bite events that make the evening news, many areas in Mississippi have breed specific laws (BSLs) which regulate or outright ban the ownership or possession of specific breeds of dogs.  The City of Clinton, where my office is located, has such a ban.  The City of Clinton’s ordinance bans the following:

  • American pit bull terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Any dog whose sire or dame is a dog of the above breeds
  • Any dog whose owner registers, defines, admits or identifies the dog as one of the above breeds
  • Any dog substantially conforming to the above breeds
  • Any dog which is of a breed commonly referred to as a pit bull of rottweiler
  • Any vicious dog which is found at large in violation of the ordinance.

Hinds County, where my home is located, has an ordinance which bans “wild animals” anywhere in the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Hinds County and defines them in part as “hybrid wolf-dogs, pit bull breeds (purebred or any amount) and/or fighting dogs.”  The Ordinance provides that an owner of wild animals may apply for a variance from the Hinds County Sheriffs Department, Animal Control Division.  Because the ordinance applies in both incorporated and unincorporated areas of Hinds County, it includes all cities within Hinds County.  Therefore, in cities such as Jackson, Clinton, Byram, Terry, Bolton, Edwards and Utica, the Hinds County ban is in addition to any city dog or dangerous animal ordinances.

The City of Jackson does not have breed specific legislation but does have a dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs ordinance.  Scroll down to page 183 for Article IV, Section 18-101.  A dangerous dog is defined to include those that have caused injury to a person or domestic animal and those that have been designated as a potentially dangerous dog and that has engaged in behavior that poses a threat to public safety.

The City of Byram includes wolf hybrids, pit bulls and fighting dogs as wild animals that are a “menace to the public” and prohibits allowing them to run at large.

Rankin County’s Ordinance defines hybrid wolf dogs, pit bull breeds and fighting dogs as wild animals that could be a menace to the public and prohibits their ownership without a Board of Supervisors approved variance.  The variance requires an inspection of the property, proof of $100,000 in homeowners liability insurance and proof that the homewoner’s insurance company is aware of the dog on the premises.

Madison County’s Ordinance does not prohibit any specific breeds but does regulate dogs running at large and nuisance animals.

City of Ridgeland Ordinance 14-171 bans: American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire Terrier, wold hybrids, Rottweilers, any dog whose sire or dame is a dog of the above breeds, any dog whose owner registers, defines, admits or identifies the dog as one of the above breeds, any dog substantially conforming to the above breeds, any dog which is of a breed commonly referred to as a pit bull, wolf, wolf hybrid and any dog declared vicious.

City of Greenville Ordinance 8-117 requires registration of all pit bulls and provides in part:

Because of the pit bull dog’s inbred propensity to attack other animals, and because of the danger posed to humans and animals alike by a pit bull dog when running loose or while running together in a pack, pit bull dogs must at all times be securely confined indoors, or confined in a securely and totally enclosed and locked pen with a top, all four (4) sides at least six (6) feet high, and with concrete flooring to prevent escape by tunneling; pen shall have a five (5) foot minimum set back from property lot line; and such enclosure shall likewise have a conspicuous sign affixed thereto displaying the words “Dangerous Dog.”

At any time that a pit bull dog is not confined as required in subsection (1) above, the dog shall be muzzled in such a manner as to prevent it from biting or injuring any person or animal, and kept on a leash with the owner or custodian in attendance; provided, however, that no pit bull dog may be walked within one hundred fifty (150) feet of any school ground, play ground or park, nor enter into such school ground, play ground or park.

City of Greenwood Ordinance 4-44 and City of Clarksdale Ordinance 4-37 are substantially similar to the City of Greenville’s pit bull ordinance.

The City of Natchez does not have breed specific laws, but does does have Ordinance Section 10-4 stating “No dog or other animal of dangerous, vicious, fierce or mischievous propensities or tendencies may be at large at any time within the limits of the city” and if any animal running at large attacks or attempts to attack a person or animal, the dog or animal is “conclusively presumed” to be a dog of vicious or dangerous propensities.  The City of Natchez also requires:

Whenever any vicious dog or one that has previously bitten any person is kept upon any premises, it shall be the duty of the keeper and of the owner of the dog to post a notice conspicuous to the public at each entrance to such premises reading in large letters, “BAD DOG HERE.”

Chances are, anywhere you live in the state of Mississippi has either a city or county ordinance regarding ownership of dogs and potentially outlawing the ownership of specific dog breeds.  If you own or intend to buy a pit bull, rottweiler, wolf hybrid, or any large dog for that matter, make sure you can legally possess it where you live.  Failure to do so can result in criminal penalties for the mere possession of certain breeds and civil liability should the prohibited dog injure a person or another animal.

If you, a family member or loved one are injured by a third party’s animal (whether it be a dog, goose, monkey or whatever), contact us and we will consult with you about the claim at no cost to you.

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