Category Archives: BSL Proposed

Albany Georgia passes first reading of breed discriminatory law

At last nights meeting, officials in Albany Georgia passed the first reading of an ordinance that would target “pit bulls.”

Initially some had been saying that this would be the first and only reading of the ordinance but this has turned out to not be the case.

There will be a second reading, tentatively scheduled for the middle of February, roughly one month after the first reading.

An interesting thing to note is that Commissioner Marietta, who had initially brought this forward, abstained from voting at last nights meeting.  He stated that he felt there were issues with the proposed ordinance that needed to be addressed and wanted more time, and a second review of the ordinance.

He also noted the many failures of breed discriminatory laws at last nights meeting.

“In fact some cities have tried it and it doesn’t work but since my colleagues are intent on passing something, I just thought that it would be wise to moderate it a little bit so that the average homeowner would be bankrupted by a dog ordinance,” said Marietta. full story

The current ordinance imposes several restrictions on owners of targeted dog.  They would have to register the dog with the police department, maintain either a liability insurance policy of at least $100,000 or a surety bond of at least $15,000 and meet confinement requirements.

According to the Best Friends Animal Society fiscal impact calculator a breed discriminatory ordinance will cost Albany over $100,000 to enforce.  One city commissioner had stated that though the ordinance was strict, it was designed for the entire city and not “a select few.”  This ordinance is NOT for the entire city and is only for “a select few” by only targeting part of the population of dog owners, and ignoring the recklessness of others.

Everyone in the area is encouraged to reach out and ask the commission to strengthen their dangerous dog laws in a breed neutral way.  All dogs that are a danger to the community must be dealt with, no matter what they look like, and all reckless dog owners need to be held accountable.  A breed discriminatory law is over and under inclusive in addressing these issues and fail to protect the community.

Everyone deserves to be protected from dangerous dogs of all kinds.  All victims deserve justice and all responsible owners deserve to have their property right maintained.

Alternatives can be found here and information on the failures of breed discriminatory laws can be found here.

Contact e-mails for city officials are as follows:

bob@langstafflaw.com
cpike@albany.ga.us
dhubbard@albany.ga.us
ihines@albany.ga.us
jhoward@albany.ga.us
rmarietta@albany.ga.us
tpostell@albany.ga.us

Pasadena CA to draft breed discriminatory law

Pasadena officials have been discussing the possibility of a mandatory spay/neuter law for some time now.  In October of this year officials said that they had tabled the discussion for six months.

Initially people were concerned that the proposal, which was breed neutral at the time, was an attempt to target the owners of dogs resembling pit bull terriers.

After supposedly postponing the conversation, officials jumped the gun on the time line given for the discussion and unveiled their intentions by voting at the end of November, 6-1, to draft a breed discriminatory spay/neuter law targeting pit bull terrier like dogs.

The proposal will require that those who own a targeted dog have them altered by the age of four months.  This mirrors the recently passed Riverside County ordinance.

People who are opposed to breed discriminatory laws often let spay/neuter laws slide by without opposition because people altering their dogs is a good thing for many reasons.  Some of the reasons cited by officials for wanting this law are to reduce over population, and aggression in dogs.  These are good things for officials to want to achieve.

They would be good things for officials to want to achieve, if that really was their intent.

The real intention is very clear.  They are not considering this because of population issues in shelters.  They are not considering this to curb backyard breeders.  They are drafting this law because they do not have the option to institute a ban.  Since 2008 officials have been discussing banning pit bull terrier like dogs, but are unable to do so because California state law prohibits it.  Councilman Steve Madison has said repeatedly that he would support an outright ban on pit bulls in Pasadena.  In fact, we reported on this in 2012.

The following are exact quotes from Mr. Madison about the issue:

“…inexplicably, state law prohibits municipalities from adopting breed-specific legislation. So the spay and neuter ordinance is a tepid response to an urgent problem… At present, it’s all we can do, supposedly. We should change this state law and then immediately ban pit bulls from Pasadena...

““I would have no problem saying ‘Pasadena’s a special place: If you want to live here, come, but don’t bring your pit bull.’

“I don’t think (this ordinance) is as effective as what I had hoped, which was a ban, but I think we have to do what we can.

“There’s no sound policy reason why a community like Pasadena shouldn’t be allowed to ban such dangerous animals,”

There is absolutely no ambiguity about the intent of this proposal when you see what they have to say first hand.

Please write or call the members of the council to respectfully and factually oppose this ordinance.  When writing it is of the utmost importance to stay calm and focused.  The facts are on the side of breed neutral laws and need no emotional embellishment. Jacque Robinson was the only opposing vote, so a note of thanks for her opposition would also be a very nice gesture.  Additional district information can be found on the cities website.

Mayor Bill Bogaard: bbogaard@cityofpasadena.net 626-744-4311
Jacque Robinson, District 1:  district1@cityofpasadena.net 626-744-4444
Margaret McAustin, District 2:  district2@cityofpasadena.net 626-744-4742
John Kennedy, District 3:  district3@cityofpasadena.net, 626-744-4738
Gene Masuda, District 4:  district4@cityofpasadena.net
Victor Gordo, District 5: district5@cityofpasadena.net,  626-744-4741, 626-831-8609
Steve Madison, District 6: smadison@cityofpasadena.net, 626-744-4739
Terry Tornek, District 7: ttornek@cityofpasadena.net, 626-441-4802

Greybull Wyoming to discuss breed discriminatory law

Officials in Greybull Wyoming are discussing the possibility of enacting a law that would restrict “pit bulls.”

The proposal targets “any American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or any dog which as the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly in any one or more of the aforementioned breeds.”

Greybull has not has any incidents by dogs labeled as pit bulls.  The council admits as much, but are citing personal fears as the reason for the proposal.  One Councilman says that it is needed because, “We have some very scary pit bulls out there.”  He cites that the community has a justification for a ban because other communities have done the same.  Another councilman stated that, “There’s a reason they are banning them all around the United States.  Towns and cities aren’t banning other breeds; they’re only banning pit bulls.”

Councilman Collingwood stated that the proposal doesn’t go far enough, that more “vicious breeds” should be added.

The thinking of the council is directly against the recent trends in dangerous dog laws.  More and more communities are rejecting and repealing breed discriminatory laws than enacting.  It is worth noting that roughly 96% of municipalities in the United States do not regulate dogs based on their appearance, and instead target reckless owners with strong breed neutral fine structures and nuanced designations for dogs that are not being properly managed in the community.

Not only that but there are many different breeds that are targeted by breed discriminatory laws all over the United States.  These other breeds are likely what Councilman Collingwood has in mind.

It is also worth noting that there is one community in Wyoming that we have confirmed as having a breed discriminatory law.  Even adjusting for the inability to know every single ordinance in the state, the amount of places in Wyoming with these laws are null compared to the numbers of communities that have chosen to institute more effective breed neutral laws.

The restrictions being sought include confinement requirements inside and outside the house, leash length requirements, muzzling, special registration and photographs on file with the local authorities and a $250,000 insurance policy.

The thinking of the members of the council seem to be born out of hysteria.  The only council member who cast the dissenting vote expressed this same sentiment, saying the ordinance was a knee jerk reaction.  Councilman Bob McGuire stated that they have laws on the books and he does not see any justification for changing them leery of changing them.

This is an astute observation but exactly are they are reacting to?  There have been no incidents, and the only statistics they have are the number of registered “pit bulls” in the community increasing.  Considering that according to Vetstreet and Banfield Pet Hospitals, pit bull type dogs are one of the most popular dogs in American households, this is far from extraordinary.

It is very likely that officials have not thought about how much such an ordinance is going to cost the community, nor the legal issues this opens up for them.  They have also most likely not investigated the massive failure of these laws to reduce the number of dog attacks in communities.  It is important that officials understand exactly what breed discriminatory laws entail, in enforcement, due process and litigation.

Please reach out to the members of the council to politely and factually support a strong reckless owner based breed neutral law.  It is admirable that the members of the council would like to take a proactive approach to the issues of dangerous dogs but the current proposal will do nothing to effect community safety.

Block e-mail: mylesfoley@hotmail.com, cgcollingwood2000@yahoo.com, badge@tctwest.net, jorgensen.greybull@yahoo.com, greybull.mayor@wyonet.net

Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana Considering Breed Discriminatory Legislation

The Tangipahoa Parish Council discussed requiring pit bull owners to have their dogs licensed, vetted and micro-chipped at their last meeting. Animal Control Director Chip Fitz said he’s leaning towards such regulation because “If we have an animal able to do damage, we want to be able to track it.”

According to Fitz, the ordinance has not been finalized and no timetable was set for it to be brought before the parish council for consideration.

Fitz admitted that overall bite counts had remained constant over the last two years: 55 in 2011 and 53 in 2012. His concerns with pit bulls, however, were irresponsible ownership and level of strength. “My concern is traditionally when a pit bull bites, it’s bad.” Pit bulls have also become a lot more popular in the last year.

It is inconceivable that regulation of pit bulls in Tangipahoa Parrish is even being considered without some kind of objective evidence it is needed. Bite data remains the same, despite the observation that pit bulls “have become a lot more popular.” No evidence has been produced as to the number of pit bulls, nor any evidence that pit bulls have been involved in bites more than any other breed. And, of course, there has been nothing shown that indicates pit bull bites have been more severe than any other type of dog.

Please send objective, polite, and respectful communication to the Council members below to let then know you are against this potential pit bull regulation.

Hon. Trent Forrest
19334 Hwy 38
Kentwood, LA 70444
(M) 985-514-1955

Hon. Ronnie Bankston
43229 Sweetpea Lane
Hammond, LA 70401
(O) 225-567-2350/985-320-6159

Hon. Greg Varnado
59467 Dummyline Rd.
Amite, LA 70422
(O) 985-748-9320

Hon. Lionel Wells – Chairman
1700 Mooney Avenue
Hammond, LA 70403

Hon. Louis Nick Joseph
279 Highway 40 West
Independence, LA 70443

Hon. David Vial
47162 Oak Creek Trace
Hammond, LA 70403
(M) 985-974-0570

Hon. Carlo S. Bruno
P.O. Box 1274
Independence, LA 70443

Hon. Harry Lavine
21145 Esterbrook Rd.
Ponchatoula, LA 70454
(M) 985-222-5325

Hon. Nicky Muscarello, Sr.
105 Abingdon Way
Hammond, LA 70401

Hon. Bobby Cortez
42102 Jefferson Drive
Hammond, LA 70403
(O) 985-542-1581

Kristen Pecararo
P. O. Box 215
Amite, LA 70422
(O) 985-748-3211/748-7041

Three Cities in Pope County Arkansas Considering Breed Discriminatory Legislation: Dardanelle, Dover and Pottsville

Three cities within Pope County, Arkansas are considering breed discriminatory legislation. Proponents have been strong fighting for BDL, and it is only by reaching out to officials and actually attending the meetings that breed discriminatory legislation will be defeated. Proponents are using the fact that Russellville, the county seat has a breed specific ordinance, and using that as precedent.

Of note is the fact that there have been no incidents, nor is there any bite data in any of these three cities that regulation is needed. They are using the same justification that Boston used for targeting pit bulls, saying that there is an “increase in criminals using vicious dogs, especially pit bulls to guard drug houses.” Of course, this is not a real reason to pass such a law. It is a smokescreen and playing on the fear of the public of crime in general. We need safer communities for everyone from all dangerous dogs, not a specific breed. The meetings and contacts are listed in the chronological order of upcoming meetings. Pottsville’s meeting is tomorrow! Dover’s meeting is this Tuesday!

Pottsville, Arkansas

The Pottsville ordinance was previously tabled, but will be reconsidered on Monday, September 30, 2013.

City of Pottsville, Arkansas
City Hall
173 E. Ash Street
Pottsville, AR 72858
Phone: (479) 968-3029
E-Mail: ptsvlcty@cswnet.com


Dover, Arkansas

The third and final reading for the ordinance targeting pit bulls takes place October 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

Mayor Patrick Johnson
mayorofdover@centurytel.net

City Treasurer/Recorder
Regina Kilgore
treasurerofdover@centurytel.net

Dardanelle, Arkansas

The second reading of the pit bull ordinance with be held on October 7, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Mayor Carolyn McGee
CMcgee@dardanelle.com

City Clerk
cityclerk@dardanelle.com

Riverside County, CA Mandating Spay Neuter on Pit Bulls Public Hearing Set For October 8, 2013

Riverside County supervisors set a public hearing for October 8, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. to further consider the proposed ordinance that would require pit bulls over four months old housed in unincorporated areas of Riverside County to be spayed or neutered. The proposal could then get a public hearing on October 22, 2013 after which the Board can decide to pass, change or take no action.

Supervisor John Travaglione was quoted as saying “We tend to see that many owners of pit bulls are not responsible.” Tavaglione had said in April that he wanted tough regulations targeting owners after learning that an 84-year-old Jurupa Valley man was torn apart by a family pit while sitting in his wheelchair.

The Supervisors voted 5-0 to move the proposed ordinance forward.

The genesis of the ordinance was the Department of Animal Services who told the board that 20% of impounded dogs and 30% of those euthanized at county shelters are pit bulls that “historically have very low redemption or adoption rates.” This was coupled with testimony of victims of pit bull attacks, including Beaumont City Councilwoman Brenda Knight, who stated that the pit bulls have a vicious streak and physical makeup that make them inherently dangerous.

The board was warned by veterinarian Melanie Verreault that mandatory sterilization would lead to less compliance with county dog licensing and registration regulations. “Anti-breed legislation is a bad idea. There are too many people flying under the radar already.”

What constitutes a pit bull under the ordinance? “Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Stafford Terriers “or any mixed breed which contains … any one of these breeds so as to be identifiable as partially of one or more of these breeds.” If the owner disagrees with the identification, the ordinance provides for a “breed determination” which would require the county’s chief veterinarian to examine the dog. The owner then has the right to appeal the finding to a county administrative officer or take the case to court.

Interestingly, California law prohibits breed discriminatory ordinances except those pertaining to spay and neuter programs.

Anyone in the Riverside, CA area should plan on attending the October 8, 2013 meeting to oppose the ordinance and reach out to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and show opposition to the ordinance.

Riverside County Board of Supervisors
district1@rcbos.org,District2@rcbos.org,district4@rcbos.org,
district3@rcbos.org, district5@rcbos.org

Jay Orr
County Executive Officer
County Administrative Center
4080 Lemon Street – 4th Floor
Riverside, California 92501
(951) 955-1110
ceo@rceo.org

Public Information Officer

Ray Smith
County Executive Office
4080 Lemon Street – 4th Floor
Riverside, California 92501
(951) 955-1110
raysmith@rceo.org

Watertown Wisconsin is moving forward with breed discriminatory law

The Safety Committee has approved a proposal in Watertown WI that would target the owners of dogs deemed to be pit bulls.

The issue has been under discussion for some time and, in spite of opposition from residents and locals, officials are moving forward with the proposal.  The proposal now moves to Common Council to be voted on.  There are two votes, the first of which is on Tuesday.

The ordinance targets the “American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or any dog displaying a majority of physical traits of one or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club (AKC)  or the United Kennel Club (UKC) for any of the above breeds.  The AKC and UKC standards for the above breeds shall be maintained on file by the Municipal Court Clerk and updated annually.”  These dogs will carry a High Risk Dog designation under the proposed ordinance.

The fact that they are using the AKC and UKC standards means that, as usual, the dogs being targeted will be identified visually.  It is important for us to note that every kennel club has openly stated that any use of their standards to implement or enforce a breed discriminatory law is a direct violation of their copyright and a misuse of the standards.

Visual identification is notoriously unreliable.  Multiple studies have been done with people who work in animal fields and not only are visual results far from DNA results, professionals cannot even agree with each other as to what the primary breed of a dog may be.

There is no clarification in the ordinance as to what “substantially conforms” or “majority of physical traits” means in a practical sense.  This unquantifiable language is not unusual and leaves the determination as to what is “pit bull enough” completely open to the discretion of the person making the assessment.

Though the ordinance goes into great length to describe the appeals process for people whose dogs are determined to be dangerous or vicious by behavior, there is no outlining appeal of a High Risk Dog designation.  This lack of information could qualify as a due process violation.

Owners of a dog with a High Risk designation must follow a long list of requirements.  Targeted dogs must be on a leash of 4 feet when not at home, no tethering unless a person 16 years or older is present, if the dog is not inside the home it must be confined to a kennel that has a secure top and bottom, or be buried to a depth of 2 feet, as well as complying with zoning regulations, in home restrictions, warning signs, spay/neuter, with no medical exemption, or exemption for registered show dogs, special registration and a $100,000 liability insurance policy and an owner of a high risk dog is not allowed to own any more than one other dog, or own a High Risk Dog in a unit that houses 3 or more families.

An interesting part of the ordinance is the confinement requirements for inside the home.  The ordinance states that, “No “high risk dog” or “vicious dog” may be kept in a house, building or other structure when the windows are open or when screen windows or screen doors fail to prevent such dog from exiting the house, building or other structure.”  The language of this portion suggests that it would be illegal for an owner of a “high risk dog” to open their windows on a nice day.

Another part that is troublesome is the multi-family dwelling portion.  This prohibits a High Risk Dog from living in a place that is a “triplex or larger.” There is no grandfather clause that would allow people who have a high risk dog to keep their dogs if they live in a restricted property.

A grandfather clause is supposedly in the process of being drafted but, according to officials, it would be for a limited time period.  This means that a person with a High Risk Dog that has more than one other dog must re-home the “extra dog” or a person in a multi-family dwelling must re-home their dog or move in a certain period of time.  The hardship that this places on people is being met with a callousness that is a bit surprising.

Watertown’s full proposed ordinance can be viewed here.

The ordinance goes to the first Common Council vote on Tuesday, August 20th.

It is absolutely imperative that people show up to oppose this ordinance.  There was some behind the scenes chatter that the breed based language would be stricken but that has not proven to be the case.  A strong in person showing is needed to speak out against this.

Residents and locals: If at all possible, please attend the meeting.  It begins at 7PM.  Please try to be there early.

If you cannot attend the meeting, please take  moment to reach out the Common Council and factually and respectfully ask them to oppose this breed discriminatory proposals.

E-mail addresses for the Aldermen are below, or you can find their phone numbers on the cities website:

Emily McFarland: emily.cahoon@yahoo.com Phone: 920.988.5874 (this member is not on the website because she is a new member.)
Fred Smith: wccpastor@charter.net
Ken Berg: kbergo1@jhrellc.com
Steve Zgnoc: zgonc@charter.net
John Coughlin: johnjcoughlin10@yahoo.com
Augie Tietz: raugie@att.net
Robert Stocks: sarah.stocks@att.net
James Romlein: jwr@R545.us