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.

Lake Elsinore California passes breed discriminatory spay/neuter law

Officials in Lake Elsinore, California, passed a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law at their meeting last night.

Citing high shelter populations of the targeted population of dogs, officials claimed the need for such a measure.

It is no coincidence that Lake Elsinore is located in Riverside County, which recently passed a breed discriminatory spay/neuter law.  When a county passes a law like this it usually applies only to the unincorporated areas of the county.  It is up to the incorporated areas to determine if they are going to pass a similar ordinance.  This is what we are seeing in Riverside County now.  First with the passage of the law in Riverside City and now with Lake Elsinore.

The law is the mirror of the county law the requires all targeted dogs the age of four months or older be altered.  Officials are passing these laws with little if any understanding of the effects of them.   There is mounting evidence that pediatric spay/neuter is detrimental to the health of dogs.  There is also substantial evidence that these laws increase shelter populations of targeted dogs, doing the exact opposite of what they are claiming is the goal of the law.

The ordinance is said to have exemptions for assistance dogs as well as “certified” breeders.  The fines for non-compliance $100 for a first offense, up to $200 for the second offense, and up to $500 for the third and each subsequent offense.  There was a bare minimum of media coverage for this issue and only one dissenting vote.

As with other places that have passed these laws, the spoken intention of the law is quite different from what the rhetoric implies.  For example, in Lake Elsinore a staff report stated that, “The Department of Animal Services for Riverside County has found that Pit Bull and Pit Bull mixes significantly impact the health and safety of residents and their pets.”

Once again we are seeing an attempt to work around the California state law that prohibits all other forms of breed discriminatory laws.  There is no doubt that if officials had the opportunity to enact some other form of restrictions, they would have tried to do so.

Officials have enacted a proven failed policy under the pretense of shelter populations which will take valuable financial resources away from the real issues that need to be addressed in the community.

Rhode Island HB 7630 would allow a single town to enact a breed discriminatory law

A bill has been introduced in the Rhode Island state legislature that would amend the current state law that prohibits breed discriminatory laws.

The bill was introduced to allow the city of Warwick to enact a breed discriminatory spay/neuter law.

HB 7630 would add the following language to current state law that prohibits breed discriminatory laws.  Breed discriminatory laws would be prohibited  “…except in those instances where the rule, regulation or ordinance pertains to spaying or neutering of pit bulls and staffordshire bull terriers located in the city of Warwick, and provided such rule, regulation or ordinance shall not apply to licensed breeders of such dogs.”

When the current state law that prohibited breed discriminatory laws was passed, it was unclear what the intention of the bill was, regarding existing ordinances in the text of the bill.  The bills sponsors, however stated very clearly that they intended it to apply retroactively.  Pawtucket took issue with the law, saying that their existing breed discriminatory ordinance should be allowed to stay.  Warwick was another town that had an existing breed discriminatory law.

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.”

It appears that Pawtucket is going the way of litigation in an attempt to keep their old law, but Warwick is attempting to get this specific legislative exemption.

The amending of a state law to allow one town an exemption is bizarre, to say the least.  The bills sponsor has already said that the bill was intended to act retroactively, and this is Warwick’s attempt at being about to keep their old breed discriminatory law.  Four of the 5 sponsors of the bills are located in Warwick, the fifth is from Providence.  Clearly city officials are asking for this from their representatives.

The bill has been assigned to the House Municipal Government Committee.

Warwick residents should reach out to their representative and ask them to pull the bill.  Be factual and polite, we have years of the failure of such laws to back up the opposition.

Rhode Island residents:  Please reach out to the committee, particularly if one of the members of the committee is your specific representative.  The state law was passed to protect the property rights of all residents of Rhode Island, not those residents who don’t live in Warwick.

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

New Jersey S 1310 would end breed discrimination by insurance companies

A bill has been introduced in the New Jersey legislature that would end discriminatory practices by insurance companies in New Jersey.

S 1310 has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

There are several different aspects to this bill.

First, it states that, “An insurer shall not (1) refuse to issue, (2) cancel, or (3) non-renew a homeowners insurance policy solely on the basis of a dog harbored upon the insured property.”

Secondly, the bill does allow insurance companies to not cover the dog specifically in the policy.    “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, an insurer may offer or issue a homeowners insurance policy which contains an exclusion against covering any liability for a dog harbored upon the insured property.”  This means that people will be able to get coverage for their property, but may have to sign an exclusion for liabilities concerning the dog.

The last part of the bill states that companies are allowed to charge different rates for different dogs.  “...nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an insurer’s use of underwriting guidelines, risk classifications, or other rules of any rating-system, as defined by section 1 of P.L.1944, c.27 (C.17:29A-1), which establish rates and premiums for that coverage on the basis of a dog harbored upon the insured property.”

These bills, traditionally, have been very difficult to pass because of the money and power that is behind the insurance lobby.  Insurance discrimination is an incredibly important issue, however.  It does not just effect home owners, but also effects renters.  Many landlords have policies against certain breeds and types of dogs because they cannot get coverage under their insurance policies to protect them, as the owner of the property.  This bill will not alleviate the problem completely, but it does provide a base line that will begin to address these issues.

Since this particular bill is so light on prohibitions on what an insurance company can do, the traditional backlash may be somewhat lessened.

New Jersey residents should reach out to support this bill.

You can contact your legislators via the states website.

Best Friends Animal Society has also set up a form, if you are having trouble with what to say.

South Dakota bill end prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level goes to the Governor

The South Dakota bill to prohibit breed discriminatory laws in the state, SB 75, passed the full House.

The vote was 41-28, for the bill.  SB 75 now moves to the Governor’s desk.  The Governor can either sign the bill or veto it.  If he signs it, the South Dakota will become the 18th state to outlaw breed discrimination on the state level.

This bill was passed through the process at an incredible speed.   SB 75 had its first reading on January 23rd.   The bill received a favorable vote by the Senate committee of 6-1 on January 31st and was moved to the full Senate.

The February 4th vote by the full Senate was very close.   The bill barely passed with 19 votes for and 16 against.  There was a lot of talk of opposition to the premise of the bill, but as we have seen in the past, there were some whose issue was states power versus municipal rights to self governance.

The bill comfortably passed the House committee on February 27th with a 10 to 3 vote for the bill to be moved to the full House.  On March 4th, the bill had its final House vote of 41-28.

The text of the bill is very simple.

Section 1. That chapter 40-34 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:   No local government, as defined in § 6-1-12, may enact, maintain, or enforce any ordinance, policy, resolution, or other enactment that is specific as to the breed or perceived breed of a dog. This section does not impair the right of any local government unit to enact, maintain, or enforce any form of regulation that applies to all dogs.”

It appears that this bill may nullify existing ordinances.  The fact that it specifics that a municipality may not maintain or enforce a breed discriminatory law points to a retro active application.

We will not know for sure until the bill is signed and applied.  Some times the language is too vague to really know the intent of the legislators until the issue of existing ordinance is raised after the bill comes into effect.

South Dakota residents should reach out the Governor Dennis Daugaard via the states website and ask that he sign SB 75 into law.

Missouri HB 1116 to prohibit breed discrimination on the state level passes committee

A bill in Missouri that would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed discriminatory laws has been heard by the House judiciary Committee.

HB 1116 is very simple.  The bill seeks to add an amendment to the current state code that reads: “273.195. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit in any manner the authority of any village, town, or city to prohibit dogs from running at large or to further control or regulate dogs within its boundaries; provided that, no such ordinances, orders, policies, or regulations are specific to breed.”

Missouri HB 1116 has been passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.   The committee voted 13-2 for the bill.  HB 1116 now goes to the full house for a vote.    If it passes the full House, the bill will move to the Senate side, where it will go through the same process of committees and hearings by the Senate.  If it passes the full Senate the bill will then need to be signed by the Governor.

The legislative process is a long one, but it is important that residents continue to contact their Senators and Representatives expressing support for this bill.

There is currently no date set for the next reading.

Some have said that there are some legislators who have received correspondence against the bill, so it is important that those residents that support the bill reach out to their legislators and ask them to support it as well.

Missouri residents can find their specific legislators in the Senate here.  House representatives can be found here.

This post has been edited to reflect that there is no second committee hearing, as was reported by a local organization.  The bill is moving to the full House so residents should contact their Representatives to ask them to support this bill.