Category Archives: BSL

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.

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.

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