Category Archives: BSL Repealed

Spring Hill, Kansas, repeals breed ban

Spring Hill Kansas has repealed their ban on “pit bull dogs.”

The old law, which was passed in 2008, defined a pit bull dog as follows:

Any pit bull dog.  (1) “Pit bull dog” means:
a. The bull terrier breed of dog;
b. The Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog;
c. The American pit bull terrier breed of dog;
d. The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog;
e. Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than above-listed which breed or mixed breed is known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers;
f. 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.

The penalties for violation were severe, with fines of up to $2,000 and up to 179 days in jail.  This ordinance was rare, in that it included the reasoning for the original passage of the ban.

“1. That as a breed of dogs, all pit bulls are inherently dangerous.
2. That the possession of pit bulls within the City poses a significant threat to the public’s health, safety and welfare.
3. That numerous instances of attacks by pit bulls have occurred against members of this community and attacks by pit bulls in surrounding communities have resulted in serious injuries.
4. That protective measures by pit bull owners are inadequate to protect the public from attacks by these animals.”

On November 13th, the city council approved the final reading of an ordinance to repeal the breed ban.  The issue was originally raised at a previous meeting and the city took on the task of investigating the issue.  Topeka, Kansas’ dangerous dog law was selected for review.  The council notes  mention Topeka’s breed neutrality, and the issues they had found with their former breed discriminatory law and the cost to tax payers.

Topeka had a breed discriminatory law that was repealed in 2010.  It makes sense that the Spring Hill Council would look at the information from there, considering that Topeka had a committee that spent substantial time and energy reworking the animal control ordinances.

The breed neutral law goes into effect after its publication in the local news.  The new law will prohibit any dog that is declared dangerous, based on the actions of the animal, and not it’s perceived breed.

Hallsville, MO, repeals breed ban

Hallsville, Missouri had a ban on “pit bulls” for over 20 years.  Passed in 1989, the ban was instituted after there were some “aggressive” pit bulls in the community, according to Mayor Cheri Reish.

On November 10th, the board of aldermen voted unanimously to repeal the long-standing ban.  The issue came up after a family was targeted as having a banned dog.  The dog was newly adopted and the family wanted to be able to keep their dog.  They approached the council with the request that the ban be re-examined.  According to the Mayor of Hallsville, the Board decided that the ordinance was “an unfair law.”

It took only roughly month between the time the initial request was made to the time the board repealed the law.

The Mayor also spoke of people who wanted to move into the community, but were unable to because of the ban. In a report on the repeal the mayor said, “We had a couple of people wanting to move in our city who already own pit-bull dogs.  Once they found out we didn’t allow them, they decided not to move into our city.”

City officials see the repeal as a positive one for the community.  They cited the ability of local shelters to be able to find homes for dogs in need as well as creating equitable laws for everyone and an equal standard of behavior.

Hallsville does have a generic dangerous dog law, that addresses all dogs.  Interestingly, a group has been working on getting an ordinance that would prohibit tethering a dog for 24 hours a day, but it keeps failing to move forward.

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.

 

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.

Waterloo Wisconsin repeals breed discriminatory restrictions

In 2013 Waterloo Wisconsin officials were discussing the possibility of repealing their breed restrictions.

Enacted in 1996, the ordinance targeted  “(1)The pit bull terrier breed of dog. (2) The Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog. (3) The American pit bull terrier breed of dog. (4) The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog. (5) Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than listed under Subsections (1) to (4) above whose breed or mixed breed is commonly known as “pit bull,” “pit bull dog” or “pit bull terrier.”

These dogs and their mixes were considered to be vicious by default.  Dogs that were targeted had to be muzzled, on a leash of a certain length, confined to the specifications of the ordinance, both inside and outside the house, targeted dogs are not allowed to live in multi-dwelling housing and signs must be posted.  These rules apply to dogs that have been declared vicious by their behaviors, as well as those who are determined to be a targeted breed.

In 2013 Watertown, WI, looked into a breed discriminatory law and rejected the idea after a lengthy debate.  The proposal there was a mirror of Waterloo’s ordinance.  This rejection was used to galvanize support in the area against breed discriminatory laws, as well as highlighting and supporting the failure of such a law.

Alderwoman Laura Cotting suggested removing the breed discriminatory language at the October 3rd meeting of the Health and Safety Committee.

At their last meeting, officials acted on this suggestion by removing all breed based language from the dangerous dog ordinance.

We have been able to get some information about what happened there behind the scenes.

The issue first came up when a bike trail between Waterloo and Watertown was approved to be installed by the State.  A group of dog carting and sledding enthusiasts who hold events in the area decided, based on several factors, that this trail would be a great place to promote dog carting events, but because of the existing breed discriminatory law in Waterloo, participants would not be able to cross the city line without stopping to muzzle some of the participating dogs.   This raised some questions for competitions, as well as the legalities behind dogs that may not be residing in Waterloo, and whether the law would affect them.  Included in the participating dogs that were restricted are therapy dogs working in the surrounding areas.

The city was contacted by community members who were concerned about the effect the breed discriminatory law would have on such events and the city at large.

After the city was contacted, a committee was formed to investigate the issue, look at the existing law, make recommendations and draft changes to the existing law.  Three public Safety Committee meetings were held.  The public was invited to participate in all meetings.  After the changes were drafted, there was a public hearing on the new language in the ordinance.   Between 10 and 15 people attended the hearing.   There were some differences of opinion on aspects of the changes officials were making to strengthen the revised breed neutral law, such as leash requirements and licensing issues, but all the residents agreed that breed neutral was the way the city should go.

Only one person spoke in support of the existing breed discriminatory language.  This person was not known to the community members.  When it became clear that the idea of keeping the existing breed discriminatory language was not supported by any member of the community or council, we are told that the individual that was there supporting it became frustrated.  This person had, at one point, attempted to get some personal information of the people who suggested the repeal, but the members of the community refused to disclose any of that information.

There was only one dissenting vote to the changes.

Congratulations to the city of Waterloo, Wisconsin, for supporting safe and humane communities, and wanting to address the real causes of dangerous dogs, reckless and negligent owners.