Missouri Valley Iowa to consider repeal of breed ban

Missouri Valley, Iowa, currently has a breed ban in place.  Officials are looking into the possibility of repealing their ban and enacting restrictions instead.

Last month, a resident had his dog confiscated under the ordinance.  The dog in question was moved to an out-of-state location and is currently living with family members.  In response, the resident, Bryan Athay, and his girlfriend, Katie Flora, obtained 63 signatures from registered voters in Missouri Valley asking that the ordinance be revisited.

This is a point of interest for several different reasons.  Often we see online petitions, but the criticism of those is always the same from councils.  Officials point out, rightly so, that signatures on online petitions come from out-of-town, out-of-state and also, in many cases, out of country.  City councils are most apt to listen to the voters in their community.  Even petitions that are taken of residents generally do not have the forethought to limit those to registered voters.  This shows incredible thought and tact on the part of Mr. Athay.

A second point of interest is that Missouri Valley, Iowa, has a population of roughly 2,750 people.  This is an extremely small community.  According to census data there are approximately 1,500 registered voters.  This means that the signatures gathered in less then one month represent slightly over 4% of registered voters in the community.  While this may not seem impressive at face value, given the length of time in which the signatures were gathered, and the fact that they limited it to not only residents, but registered voters in the community, the 4% becomes a much more impressive feat.

The current ordinance targets a variety of dogs under their “pit bull” ban.

E. Pit Bull Terriers, including the following:
(1) The Bull Terrier breed of dog;
(2) The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed;
(3) The American Staffordshire Terrier breed;
(4) The American Pit Bull Terrier breed;
(5) Dogs of mixed breed or other breeds which are known as pit
bulls, pit bulldogs or pit bull terriers;
(6) Any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of
being predominantly of the breeds of Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull
Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier,
any other breed commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull
terriers or a combination of any of these breeds.

This law is covered under the city code regarding Dangerous and Vicious animals, putting “pit bulls” in the same category as badgers, wolverines, weasels, skunk and mink, raccoons, bats and, oddly enough, scorpions.

The council will meet on July 1st, where the issue will likely be open to discussion.

Jurupa Valley CA rejects breed based spay/neuter law

At their last meeting, officials in Jurupa Valley, California, decided against a proposal that would require the pediatric mandatory sterilization of dogs deemed to be pit bulls.

The proposal was brought forward by Councilman Micheal Goodland.  Goodland made it very clear that this was not about shelter numbers, or population issues.  He is quoted in local reports, calling “pit bulls” wild animals and has stated openly that he would like to see a breed ban in place.

This follows what we have seen in California communities, where one council member makes extremely strong claims about “vicious animals” or “wild animals” and “protecting the community,” while at the same time saying that it is a shelter issue.

There were 2 votes for the proposal, and 3 against.

Two of those who voted against the proposal stated it was an issue of rights for them.  Johnston and Roughton said they could vote to take away the right of dog owners to keep their animals intact.

The other vote for the proposal, aside from Goodman who sponsored it, cited dog attacks as the reason for voting for it, claiming the spay/neuter law would reduce attacks.

As more and more research into the issue of dog attacks and the dogs sexual status emerges, we are seeing stronger correlations to the way the dog is generally cared for, sexual status being an indicator of that.

The 2 part proposal contained the mandatory sterilization of “pit bulls” as well as a proposed marketing campaign urging responsible dog ownership, including voluntary sterilization, licensing and microchipping of pets.

These sorts of campaigns have proven to be incredibly successful, but only when the municipality provides information on how to access these resources.

We hope that the council revisits the campaign, as well as looking into providing resources to low income communities, which are the most impacted in these situations.

South Bend Indiana unanimously repeals breed discriminatory law

After much hard work, officials in South Bend, Indiana, have voted on the new animal control ordinance that includes the repeal of the long-standing breed discriminatory law.  They voted unanimously to pass the new law and repeal the outdated breed discriminatory law.

Passed in 1987, the law restricted American Pit Bull Terriers and those resembling this breed only.  The ordinance was very clear in the definition that American Pit Bull Terrier was defined as the UKC (United Kennel Club) and ADBA (American Dog Breeders Association) standard.

” American Pit Bull Terrier means the breed of dog registered and described by the United Kennel Club (U.K.C) and the American Dog Breeders Association (A.D.B.A.) as the American Pit Bull Terrier, also known as the pit bull terrier, and any crossbreed of the American Pit Bull Terrier; but does not include the breeds known as the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the English Bulldog, the Bull Terrier, or the Bulldog, all of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club (A.K.C.).”

This particular definition had proven to be completely unenforceable considering that it specifically excluded so many breeds and types that are typically lumped into the definition of “pit bull.”

The repeal is not surprising, considering the breadth of the ordinance that is taking its place.  A work group was formed over a year ago to study the issue and the current law, and to draft changes.  The group took their time, forming a new law based on best practices in the industry regarding the care and control of all animals.

Councilwoman Valerie Schey took the issue on head first, recognizing, based on municipal statistics, that the current animal control ordinance wasn’t working to do what was intended.  The changes to the ordinance began in early 2013.

Interestingly, the animal control changes coincided with the dismissal of the long time head of animal control back in April of 2013.  In a local story on the dismissal, Schey commented that “Even though we’ve made significant strides in the care we provide with the new building, I still don’t feel the (euthanasia) numbers are where they need to be.”

Though the media made it seem like the issue of repeal was a hotly contested one, there were no speakers in favor of keeping the old breed discriminatory law at the meeting.

To say the new animal control ordinance is a comprehensive one would be an understatement.  The ordinance covers breeding practices, standards for animal related businesses, animal based entertainment, husbandry issues for all kinds of animals, from horses to bees.  There are detailed definitions for dangerous, potentially dangerous and vicious animals.  There are additions to the law that outline the standard of care for animal owners.  Specific to dogs, there are tethering provisions, husbandry issues addressed and a more detailed dangerous dog law that includes due process for owners, which had been seriously lacking in the old law.

The ordinance is 60 pages and contains some fabulous provisions that will make South Bend a safer and more humane community, which was the goal of Schey when she undertook this project.

South Bend also highlights another issue we have seen recently where proponents of breed discriminatory laws have been interfering with the local legislative process.  We are aware of several well-known pro-BDL advocates, who live out-of-state, that wrote to the legislators misrepresenting themselves as residents.  This has become a recent trend that can be seen in other municipalities as well, Riverside and Pasadena, California, Aurora, Colorado and Missouri are just a few of the other places these tactics are being used.  These people, however are increasingly being seen for what they are, as residents come forward and dominate the conversation, overwhelmingly against breed discriminatory laws.  Councils are more aware than ever that this handful of people, and the groups they represent, are using these tactics in an attempt to sway the conversation, but have no presence in the actual community.

We would like to congratulate Councilwoman Schey for her hard work in crafting the new law, and setting South Bend on the path to becoming a model city for animal care and control.

 

Jurupa Valley California first reading of breed discriminatory spay/neuter

This Thursday, officials in Jurupa Vally, California will hold the first reading of a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.

The move follows the passage of the county-wide measure which was passed recently in Riverside County, California.

While there are not a lot of details at this time as to the justification for the measure, it is important that residents reach out to oppose the move.

Spay/neuter is a very good thing but mandatory measures, especially those that require pediatric procedures have unintended consequences that not only effect the health and welfare of the dogs, but also have the exact opposite effect of the most commonly stated intention, decreasing shelter populations.

Mandatory spay/neuter has been shown in city after city to increase shelter populations.

The city would be far better served with extreme low-cost options, mobile clinics and community out reach.  Programs such as the Pets for Life Program show resoundingly that given the access people will come to use the provided resources but the community must be made aware that these options are out there and accessible.

Passing a law will not reach the under served communities, the places where people take dogs in off the streets or from neighbors as puppies, which is where the majority of unaltered dogs in the community come from.

If residents cannot attend this meeting, please take the time to write to the council to express opposition for a mandate and encourage community out reach and education.

Frank Johnston Higher FJohnston@JurupaValley.org
Micheal Goodland Mayor Pro-Tem MGoodland@JurupaValley.org
Brad Hancock Council Member BHancock@JurupaValley.org
Verne Lauritzen Council Member VLauritzen@JurupaValley.org
Laura Roughton Council Member LRoughton@JurupaValley.org

The meeting will take place at 7 PM  May 15th.  The meeting is held at the Former Sam’s Western Wear Building City Council Chamber, 8930 Limonite Avenue, Jurupa Valley, CA 92509 .

This is on the council agenda for consideration, item number 13.

Thank you Swaylove.org for the alert.

 

League City, Texas officials talk about breed discriminatory law

City officials in League City, Texas, have begun to talk about instituting a breed discriminatory law.

Following an attack by a dog identified as a pit bull, city officials are looking at restrictions for “pit bulls.”

A toddler and mother were watching the mother’s boyfriends dog when the dog attacked.  There have been no details as to the moments leading up to the attack or how well know the dog was to the victims.

Councilman Todd Kinsey has said that he would like to see breed based restrictions enacted in the city.  He claims that local statistics point to the need for a breed based law.  These numbers have not as yet been supplied to the public, nor have any details regarding any circumstances of these incidents such as free roaming or chained dogs, percentage of incidents that were dog on dog, dog on human, sexual status of the attacking dog, how the “breed” of the dog is being identified and other such pertinent information.

Kinsey claimed that 80% of attacks “resulting in injury” are by dogs identified as pit bulls.  This claim leaves out the actual number of attacks in League City, total number of attacks attributed to “pit bulls” as well as population of dogs being identified as pit bulls in the community.  Without this information, the claim of 80% is specious at best.

At a city council meeting the Police Chief outlined several measures for the control of “dangerous dogs.”  The following were options discussed: mandatory microchips, fluorescent ID tags and sterilization of dogs meeting a definition of dangerous.  Chief Kramm also included the idea that a dog deemed dangerous be euthanized or banned from the city limits.

Officials are aware that there is a law in Texas that prohibits the enactment of a breed discriminatory law.  However, they seem to be under the impression that such a law applies only to a breed ban, and not restrictions.

From a recent article:  “According to Police Chief Kramm, Texas law prohibits the banning of specific breeds but it would be possible to increase regulations for pit bulls.Kinsey said he would like to see higher registration fees for pit bulls, extra security fences so they are unable to dig out of yards as well as special liability insurance requirements.”I’m in favor of making it difficult for people who want to own pit bulls in our community,” Kinsey said.”

Texas state law prohibits any form of breed discriminatory law, including restrictions.”

HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE
TITLE 10. HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ANIMALS
CHAPTER 822. REGULATION OF ANIMALS
SUBCHAPTER D. DANGEROUS DOGS
§ 822.047. LOCAL REGULATION OF DANGEROUS DOGS.

A county or municipality may place additional requirements or restrictions on dangerous dogs if the requirements or restrictions:

(1) are not specific to one breed or several breeds of dogs; and
(2) are more stringent than restrictions provided by this subchapter.

It is clear in the statute that this applies not only to bans but also to restrictions.

Nothing official has been proposed at this time, but residents and locals should attend council meetings to urge for reckless owner ordinances, and the strengthening of the current dangerous dog law that would create more nuanced categories and more stringent penalties for those who do not operate proper care and control of their dogs.

Rhode Island HB 7630 to allow Warwick to enact breed discriminatory law set for hearing

Rhode Island HB 7630 has been scheduled for a date to be heard by the first committee.  The House Committee on Municipal Government is set to hear the bill on March 20th.

The bill would allow the city of Warwick to re-institute their breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.  The old ordinance was voided when the Rhode Island legislature passed a law that made breed discriminatory laws illegal in the state.

This bill follows on the heels of another bill, by the same sponsors, which had attempted to alter state law to allow any town to pass a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.  That bill was tabled for further study.  The legislators then submitted HB 7630.

The bill’s sponsors are representatives of Warwick.

Warwick’s old law was a prohibition on owning a targeted dog unless it was altered, or the person had a license for breeding issued by the director on the local animal shelter.  Targeted dogs included American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, “or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds.”

Warwick animal control currently does a fantastic job of out reach.  They work with owners to provide low-cost services and to educate owners on the issue of spay/neuter.  This out reach is what is responsible for their effective population control, not the old law.

It has been proven time and time again that the solution to over population issues is effective out reach and community solutions.  These programs are responsible for the decrease in population and increase in positive outcomes for animals.  Many places do not have breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter laws, but they do have community out reach and education, and they still see the same results.

With the programs and out reach being done in the community, there is no reason for a law that would penalize people based on the appearance of their dog.  This is aside from the issue that these laws have the exact opposite effects of their intentions.  Communicating to underserved areas and providing resources does so much more for everyone.

Rhode Island residents:

Please reach out to the members of the committee and ask them to oppose this bill.  The state law was passed for a reason, and to allow a single town exemption via a bill is counter to the intent of the state law.  The rights of all residents of the state of Rhode Island deserve the same consideration.

Residents of Warwick, especially, should reach out to their representatives to oppose this bill.

Committee on Municipal Government:

rep-ogrady@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-newberry@rilin.state.ri.us,   rep-marshall@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-kazarian@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-johnston@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-costantino@rilin.state.ri.us,   rep-bennett@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-amore@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-ackerman@rilin.state.ri.us

Medford Oregon officials reject breed discriminatory law

Medford, Oregon, officials have rejected the idea of a breed discriminatory law.

The idea was initially raised by Councilor Karen Blair after a complaint of dog on dog attack in the city.

Councilor Blair had made some ill-informed statements to the media in support of a law that would have targeted dogs deemed to be pit bulls.  Blair stated that, “There are few people that can handle a dog that strong, particularly when its jaws naturally lock.”  (referencing what she called “pit bulls”)

As officials were examining possible changes to their dangerous dog laws, they accepted public input from many different sections of the community.   All presenters were professional, respectful and well versed in the latest peer reviewed studies that all state that breed is not a factor in attacks.

The first study session was widely publicized as one that considered a breed ban.  Information directly from the council showed that this option was discussed, but a large part of the conversation had centered around the problems in enforcing such a law and the failures of breed discriminatory laws to improve public safety.

Additional information from those communicating with the Council also showed the direction of the conversation was a positive one.  Correspondence indicated that only the one council member had shown any interest in such an ordinance.   The police advisory committee was formed to examine the cities options for strengthening the cities dangerous dog laws, and not to draft a breed ban, as was implied by media accounts.  Because one member of the council was interested in a ban, this took precedent in the conversation as presented by the media, overshadowing the rest of the conversation.

At the last police advisory committee meeting, held this past Tuesday, Medford police said they will propose an ordinance that would target problem dog owners and that a breed ban will not be considered.

One change being considered is increasing penalties for people who are not managing their dogs properly in the community but aside from that there are no real details as to what the proposal could contain.

The advisory committee heard many different options during their meetings.  Councilor Bob Strosser was the council representative on the committee.  Also on the committee were representatives from the local animal control, representatives of the legal interests of the town, as well as the local police department.  The committee had met several times.

During these meetings the legal representative raised concerns about the legal ramifications of a breed discriminatory law.  He recommended against a breed based law due to the cost and legal issues.

The animal control representative supported the idea of resources and programs to help dog owners in the community.  Behind the scenes, local advocates have offered help with such resources, such as spay/neuter, affordable training and licensing campaigns to bring more residents into compliance.

Councilor Strosser brought several breed neutral laws to the committee for consideration, including the recently passed Baker City law.  Baker City passed a comprehensive breed neutral law after some discussion of a breed discriminatory law.  During the Baker City meetings officials rejected information claiming one breed or type of dog as more dangerous than others as inherently biased and factually unfounded.

Interestingly, Medford is yet another case where members of the council roundly rejected the “statistics” of the pro-BDL lobby, calling into question their obvious bias and lack of reliability.

Reason prevails.  The facts are on the side of breed neutral laws, and slowly but surely we are seeing officials reject the cherry picked, media based statistics in favor of peer-reviewed and verified information.

Medford officials have some fantastic ordinances at their disposal to help craft their new law.  We look forward to seeing the results of the continuation of the rational discourse that has taken place thus far.

Thank you Cheryl Huerta, from the Portland Pit Bull Parade,  for the additional information on this issue.