Enumclaw, WA, keeps breed ban in place

At last nights meeting in Enumclaw, Washington, officials voted to keep the current breed ban in place.

The meeting drew a great number of commenters, some from both sides of the issue, but as we have seen before, the commenters for repealing the ban, out weighed those for keeping.  There was a small contingent to keep the ban, led by a woman whose child had been attacked by a dog she identified as a “pit bull.”  Public comment lasted for over an hour.

The vote to keep the law in place was unanimous.  This is interesting considering the vote to repeal was nearly unanimous as well, with only one dissenting vote.  The official recommendation per city documentation, was to repeal the existing ban.

There is some speculation that officials did not want to act to repeal with the emotional pressure present.

Though the repeal failed to pass the second reading, officials have said that this is not the end of the discussion.  Replacing the ban with restrictions is one idea that is being looked at as well as increasing penalties for those who have dogs that attack.

The ordinance that was for discussion, not only repealed the existing ban.  It also would have strengthened the rest of the dangerous dog laws, to better protect the community from negligent owners who fail to exercise proper care and control over their dogs.  A companion to the repeal would have adopted the county animal control law, which has been updated far more recently then the cities law.

King County provides animal control for the city, and having laws that are the same is extremely important for the proper enforcement of those laws.  Disparity breeds confusion for both residents and those working in official capacity, for the county.

It is unfortunate that officials failed to provide equal recourse for all victims of dog attacks and has failed to act in a manner that would have made for more effective enforcement of Animal Control within the city.

Enumclaw, Washington, considers repeal of breed ban

A change to the Enumclaw, WA, ordinance that bans “pit bulls” is working its way through the city council.

The first vote of the repeal was passed on September 22nd, with only one dissenting vote.  The second and final reading of the repeal is set to be heard on October 13th.

The current ordinance defines “pit bull” as “any dog over the age of six months known by the owner to be a Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bull Terrier shall mean any Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier so as to be identifiable as partially of the breed Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier.

Again, we see the use of the “as an element of its breeding” in the ordinance, which has been successfully challenged in court several times.  Because the implication is that even a dog with 1% of the listed breeds is banned, there is a question as to whether, rationally, a dog with 1% of anything could contain the supposed “inherent” behaviors of that breed.

City administrator Chris Searcy stated that the city repeatedly receives requests from residents to repeal the law, showing support for the repeal, specific to residents.

Residents and locals are encouraged to attend the meeting, to show support for the repeal.  If you cannot attend this meeting, you can contact the city council to politely and factually support the repeal of the current breed ban, by finding your council members information on the cities website.

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.