Category Archives: BSL

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.

An Urgent Message from Aurora Colorado

There is no doubt that demonstrations can be an effective tool in certain situations. This is not one of those times.  The following has been reprinted with permission from ColoRADogs regarding tonights meeting in Aurora Colorado.

We’re not demonstrating and asking people to not do so, because we have been asked to avoid it by the people who have the power to continue to ban our dogs. We choose not to because Council Woman Renie Peterson has made a tremendous effort to advocate on behalf of all pit bull owners, and deserves the full support of our community. She has said it is counter to our efforts and hers. We respect that, and her, so we will follow her lead. When someone shows you the path and says it’s the one most likely to lead you to the end goal, you take it.

It’s the last blog before tonight’s presentations. We hope to see you all there filling the room. We also want to wish the best of luck to community members who will be presenting about urban chickens. In the middle of this work, sometimes the view can get myopic. There are other issues equally important to Aurora citizens, and chickens are a big one. Our founder’s community has urban chickens. We love them, so best of luck to the chicken advocates!

We’ve actually avoided this blog. We know that when you put things in writing, you risk the cut and paste crowd of using your words against you. At this point, because we have had so many supporters and advocates email us privately and ask, we thought it’s time to open up a discussion. Starting with why we will not, nor do we, support demonstrations.

The work in Aurora this year has been difficult and has required political tightrope walking. While there are many aspects to ColoRADogs, we have spent an average of 120 person hours a week on this issue alone. When we decided to work with Aurora to repeal this law, we reached out to Jen Bryant to come on board. Jen has a proven track record of working with City Council and getting results. We knew that despite years of effort, BSL had no signs of going away and we needed to do it differently.

With Jen working as a liaison, and with the incredible efforts of Council Member Renie Peterson who introduced the proposal to end BSL, we were able to open dialogue with city council. Our one question was, “How can we support your council to remove BSL?” It was that simple. No berating, no telling them they suck. Just a simple question, “How can we help?”

What we received were comments from council members asking us to, “keep it respectful,” and that if it “became a circus” they would shut it down.

Do we think that is just an excuse to not move repeal forward? Perhaps for one, or maybe two of the members. But for the others, it was guidance on how to succeed. So we’ve followed it to a tee.

Not because we’re into rules or like to tow the line for anyone. But because after so many years in advocacy work for less than popular issues, along with speaking to advocates who have succeeded in repealing BSL in their communities, we have evidence of what works, and what does not. The most consistent feedback we have received has been, “Avoid demonstrations, they polarize and stop forward momentum.”

This is not about trying to quiet anyone. It’s not about ego nor credit. We could not care less about 15 minutes of fame.  Those things do nothing to further the agenda of breed neutral laws and safe, humane communities. It’s about the ability to fund resources to underserved populations in Aurora. It’s about pit bull owners who have had to say goodbye to their beloved family member. That is our focus, period. It’s not personal to anyone or any group.

It’s out of respect to the process, the council, and every owner who has come to us asking for help to get rid of these laws. We owe it to all of you to do our very best with the information we have, and to make this successful for you.

We hope to see you out there in support and solidarity both tonight and March 3rd for study session. Remember, keep it respectful and keep the faith. We’ve been given information on how to help support forward movement. Let’s take it and run with it.

Here are the details again. Public input is held before the regular city council meeting. Show up at 7pm to sign up to speak. You have three minutes to show your best stuff. If you have a Power Point presentation, please submit it to Television Services, first floor city hall, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway Aurora, Colorado 80012, near the Aurora Room by noon on Monday.

Also, please have a paper copy of your presentation so City Council can follow along.”

Medford Oregon public meeting to discuss possible breed discriminatory law

The city of Medford Oregon is discussing the possibility of a breed discriminatory ordinance.

Councilor Karen Blair said recent attacks by dangerous dogs against other dogs prompted her to ask the city for more information about the issue.

In a news report Blair was quoted as saying, “There are few people that can handle a dog that strong, particularly when its jaws naturally lock.”  It is clear that there are some serious misconceptions regarding the anatomy of dogs, that has hopefully been cleared up by some of the correspondence the city council has already received.

The council was reportedly looking into how other municipalities handle dangerous dogs.   The statement was made that presence of breed based bans and restrictions in other areas prompted them to look into the issue for themselves.  While this maybe true, the prejudicial and misinformed statements made point to an internal factor in the investigation of this issue.

Another Oregon town recently discussed breed discrimination.  After looking at the information, Baker City Oregon roundly rejected the idea and the organizations that support these types of laws, as flawed, biased and ineffective.  The result was a fantastic, comprehensive breed neutral law that will serve the entire community.

After a look at municipal bite data, the police department stated that there have been 89 reported dog bites in 3 years.  These numbers were concerning to officials, and they began discussing what can be done to reduce bite rates in the city.  The city of Medford has a population that was estimated to be over 76,000 residents in 2012.

When the idea was originally brought forward, feedback from the officials was mixed.  The Mayor specifically stated that a ban wasn’t on the table.  Several other council members offered similar opposition to a ban, but feedback specific to restrictions was not given.

There was a study session held initially.  According to news reports, the sessions discussed the idea of breed discriminatory legislation in general.  Correspondence from the council has proven this to be true, but the council also heard presentations on why breed discriminatory laws are problematic.

Residents have been collecting signatures on petitions and the council has reportedly received a lot of correspondence regarding the issue.

There is not a lot of feedback regarding which direction the council may take.

Medford Oregon residents:

The city has issued a press release.  A meeting has been scheduled for February 19th beginning at 4:30pm, 411 W. 8th Street, Medford, Oregon, on the 3rd floor of City Hall.  This meeting is being held to hear public input on the potential changes to the current dangerous dog laws.

Residents should attend this meeting to politely and factually oppose breed discriminatory laws.  Those who speak can also present written information to the council for consideration at that time.

Those who cannot attend can direct their written opposition to the council directly at the following e-mail addresses.

Gary  Wheeler – Mayor    mayor@ci.medford.or.us
Karen Blair – Councilmember Ward 2:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Daniel Bunn – Councilmember Ward 4:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Chris Corcoran – Councilmember Ward 3:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Dick Gordon – Councilmember Ward 1:  dick.gordon@cityofmedford.org
Tim  Jackle – Councilmember Ward 1:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Eli Matthews – Councilmember Ward 2:  council@ci.medford.or.us
John Michaels – Councilmember Ward 3:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Bob Strosser – Councilmember Ward 4:  council@ci.medford.or.us

Aurora Colorado repeal needs help now

A potential repeal of Aurora Colorado’s breed ban has been moved onto the next step by the council.

The repeal, which is backed by Renie Peterson, passed the first step in the process, when it was sent to study by the cities Public Safety committee.  The committee meets in order to hear proposals and hear feed back from areas of government that the proposal concerns.

The agenda was changed so that BSL was first in line. Because of protocol, Animal Care and Control were the only people allowed to present. We were disappointed in both their support of continuing the law, and using Dogsbite, a hysteria based website, as “proof” of the dangers of dogs who have a certain appearance. We’re going to hope they are able to develop partnerships that nurture the “care” part of their mission. A second source was Kory Nelson. A Denver City Attorney, who fought like tooth and nail to keep BSL in Denver, and continues to champion it as a great law…”

In arguing for keeping the breed ban, the local animal care and control department claimed that HSUS held them up as a model community for their dangerous dogs laws.  HSUS has responded to this claim, in a letter to the city council (full letter available here).

“We also understand there has been some confusion about The HSUS’ endorsement of Aurora’s dog policies. The HSUS supports strong, comprehensive laws regarding the management of vicious or dangerous dogs, contingent upon there being no breed-specific components of said law. In a recent council meeting, a speaker claimed that HSUS cited Aurora as “model” legislation, and in 2004 we did—prior to the introduction of breed-specific policy in Aurora. The HSUS does not support or commend Aurora for their current dog laws. Instead we encourage your community to forge a new path to promote public safety and support dog owning families.”

At least one member of the committee who had initially shown some support for a repeal had begun to back track a little bit in her support, stating that she would support a repeal of the ban for restrictions instead.

One other council member, who has not made a commitment either way, specifically called out the credibility of ACC’s source of information and stated he wanted information from unbiased sources.  This information is being gathered and provided to the full council.

“In arguing for keeping BSL, Cheryl Conway of Aurora ACC argued that people who complain about the law are not from Aurora, nor even from Colorado. We’re going to ask you to help prove them wrong on that by a letter writing campaign.”

AURORA COLORADO RESIDENTS AND RESIDENTS ONLY:

The time has come to make your voices heard!

Begin reaching out and expressing support for a repeal.  One of the comments made by an official is that they don’t think residents support a repeal.  Considering that pro-BDL groups from not only out of the city, but also out of the state and out of the country, have been contacting the council, this is an ironic point.

“…what we do see, what we know, are that groups like dogsbite are lobbying hard in our community to control local issues and laws. They are hitting it hard, and will remain relentless until the end. So it’s our job, your job, Coloradans jobs, to shut them down. These are our cities and communities, our neighbors and our representatives.  It is our voice, local voices that deserve to be heard, and determine the outcome of local issues.

Residents should reach out with a simple expression of support.  The shorter the better, as we know that at least one council member has stopped reading the e-mails and is looking only at the subject lines.

The council can be reached at citycouncil@auroragov.org.

The subject line should read in support of the repeal.  This should be straight to the point.  Something along the lines of “Repeal breed ban”  or “Please support breed ban repeal” so that it is easily seen what the topic is.

A lot of studies and data have been presented to the council already, so at this time all that is needed is expressions of support for the repeal.

Again, a simple message will do.

“To whom it may concern,

As a resident of Aurora in Ward # X (ward number can be found on the cities website) I support the repeal of the “pit bull” ban and urge the council to support a repeal of the ban as well.

(Your name)”

Or:

My name is…

I am a resident of Aurora. I support repeal of BSL and replacing it with breed neutral laws that hold owners accountable.

Regards;
(your name)”

Make sure to include your ward number or address, any information that will identify you as a resident of Aurora.  This is incredibly important and cannot be stressed enough.

These correspondence are being counted, and members are claiming they are receiving a flood of e-mails urging them to keep the ban.

Another thing residents can do is to attend their wards meetings.  There is a schedule available here, of which wards are having meetings, the date and times.  This will give residents a chance to speak directly about the issue, show an in person presence and be heard, as well as giving you, the resident, a more active role in what is happening in your community.

The study session is set for March 3rd at 5pm.  Every single person who supports a repeal is being urged to attend this meeting.  There will be no public comment at this meeting but a large presence will make an impact.  The meeting will take place at the Aurora City Hall-Council Chambers, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway, Aurora, Colorado, 80012.

Information in italics has been reprinted with permission from ColoRADogs.

Garden City Kansas repeals breed discriminatory law

Garden City officials have been considering a repeal of their long-standing breed discriminatory restrictions since late 2013.

At last nights meeting officials were set to hear a proposal to repeal their breed discriminatory law that targeted “American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier, or any mixed animal that appears to be predominantly one of those breeds.”

Officials voted to repeal the old breed discriminatory law at this meeting.

Under the old law, those previously mentioned breeds were considered to be vicious by default.  Owners of targeted breeds had to abide by the restrictions set out for dogs that had previously attacked, even though they had done nothing wrong in the community.  This included muzzling, confinement requirements and posted sign as well as a handful of other restrictions often seen in these laws.

A local attorney had asked the commission to consider repealing the law back in December of 2013.  As a result of last nights vote, all dogs will be targeted based on their behavior instead of their appearance.

The city attorney had immediately expressed support for repealing when the issue was raised, and had stated that he had the conversation with other officials about a repeal before.

Congratulations to those in Garden City.  This was truly a grassroots effort, with presentations by concerned citizens, and officials that listened to their concerns and responded accordingly.

Clayton MO unanimously repeals breed discriminatory law

Clayton Missouri repealed their long-standing breed discriminatory law.

The old law considered all “pit bulls” to be dangerous and mandated a list of requirements to own one.  The requirements included registration and reporting. The dogs had to wear a bright orange collar and be confined per the ordinance, be on a leash and wear a muzzle. The owner must post warning signs, keep liability insurance.

From the ordinance, a targeted dog was defined as follows: “Any bull terrier breed of dog, which shall be defined as any Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog and/or any American pit bull terrier breed of dog and/or any American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog and/or any mixed breed of dog which contains, as an element of its breeding, genetic components of the aforementioned bull terrier breed of dog and/or any dog which has the appearance and characteristics and is known by the owner to be predominantly of the breeds of the bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and/or any other breed commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers or a combination of any of these breeds.

This is a good example of the broad reaching definition of “pit bull” some municipalities take.

Examining the ordinance, it becomes clear why this was repealed.  Not only has the language “as an element of its breeding” been challenged and struck down in court, the general definition is so wide and to literally encompass anything that has short hair and is a medium-sized dog.

Thought there is not much information at this point, we do know from those that attended the meeting, it was repealed unanimously.

Bradford PA comes into compliance with state law

For years Pennsylvania has had a state law that prohibits breed discrimination in any form.

When this law was enacted, there were no grandfather clauses allowed, and all places with breed discriminatory laws had to repeal their existing ordinances as they were voided by state law.

Some places seem to never have been made aware of the state law, as we saw with Bessemer PA last year, and now Bradford PA this year.

According to officials, they were questioned about the legality of the existence of their ordinance targeting “pit bulls” as dangerous.  The declaration of being dangerous meant that, in Bradford, dogs deemed to be pit bulls were banned, as dangerous dogs were not allowed in the city.

After an investigation, they were told that state law does in fact invalidate the ordinance, and they moved to officially remove the old ordinance from the books.

Tuesday, January 28th, the council met and repealed the old breed discriminatory law.  This was done without ceremony, and with out opposition, during a meeting where many different items of business were discussed.

Though there are some who list ordinances in PA as being valid, it is shown repeatedly that this is not the case.  Pennsylvania doe not allow breed discrimination by municipalities at all.  

Not only that but PA also takes things a step farther, being one of 2 states in the US that do not allow insurance companies to refuse or cancel coverage based on the breed of dog of the insured.