Category Archives: Proposal to Repeal

Aurora Colorado may reconsider their ban

There are a few cities in Colorado that maintain their breed discriminatory laws in spite of the state law that prohibits breed discrimination by municipalities.  These places are allowed to do so under the banner of “home rule,” or, to put a complex issue simply, the right of a municipality to self governance, independent of state laws.

These remaining “strong holds” are often lauded by the pro-BDL lobby as successes despite their well documented failure at reducing dog bites overall, and their failure to reduce severe dog bites.

Aurora is one of these cities.

The ban in Aurora targets the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, their mixes and any dog resembling these breeds.

The law requires the city to keep data on the ban, so we have a very clear case study on the failure of breed discriminatory laws, even when actively enforced.

We covered bite data from Aurora in depth in 2011, when a repeal was being discussed.  This detailed data can be found here.

A summation of the data is that before the ban was enacted bites were declining.  They had been declining for a 3 year period with a significant decline between 2004 (211 total bites) and 2005 (137 total bites).  After the ban was enacted in 2006, bites increased every year until 2010 where a drop off occurred.  This drop still put the years total at higher than the year preceding the ban.

It is not uncommon that attacks go up after a breed discriminatory law is instituted.  Valuable animal control resources end up being diverted to targeting dogs that are not a problem in the community, leaving little time and resources to address those that are a problem.

Councilwoman Renie Peterson is planning on introducing a measure this spring that would repeal the ban.  This is not the first time a repeal has been tried.  In the past the council has been resistant to repeal, mostly citing outdated science as a justification.  Peterson, herself, introduced the repeal in 2011 that failed to gain enough support to pass.

As the science behind canine genetics has advanced, so has our understanding of why the physical attributes of a dog cannot measure the dogs impact in the community.  We have seen the fall of many long-standing bans and restrictions lately, often citing these new findings on genetics and behavior, as well as the difficulty of enforcement and the legal issues breed discriminatory laws raise.

Aurora has seen it’s fair share of litigation over the ban, including a lawsuit over the bans violation of the American’s with Disabilities Act, regarding service dogs.

There are still some on the council who support the ban and a repeal faces the same hurdles previous attempts faced.

A measure like this needs resident support.  In the past, officials have not been open to hearing from those outside the community, as is usually the case.  Since the ban affects those in Aurora, residents should reach out and ask their council members to support a repeal.

This is an issue for all residents.  Aurora is not safer, and tax payer dollars are being wasted in a time when cities are struggling to find resources for basic necessities.

All communication with officials should be respectful and factual.  The focus should be on the failure of the ban to create a safer community, the violation of property rights and due process.  Emotional arguments are ineffective and counter productive.  Comprehensive breed neutral laws have a remarkable track record of success in helping to create safer communities, while leaving the legal rights of citizens intact.

If anyone in the area is interested in becoming actively involved, you can reach out to ColoRADogs, a local group, at coloradogs1@gmail.com.

MPP Randy Hillier introduces a new bill to repeal Ontario’s breed ban

The fight to repeal Ontario Canada’s long-standing “pit bull” ban continues.

Earlier this year, a bill to repeal the ban was making progress, until the Liberal party in Ontario created a party line stalemate that kept the bill from going for its third reading.

That bill, Bill 16, was a tri-party bill.  This means that 3 political parties had endorsed and supported the bill.  The bill was sponsored by Randy Hillier, Cheri DiNovo and Kim Craitor. Cheri DiNovo has been championing a repeal of the ban for some time, actively reaching out to garner support for a repeal and supporting groups with the same goal. Cheri DiNovo had previously entered 2 bills to repeal the ban before co-sponsoring Bill 16.  She is widely recognized as one of the first officials to stand up and fight against the ban.

Bill 16, also referred to as Hershey’s Bill, was progressing despite opposition.  This was until the hearings before the bill would have been sent to its third and final reading.  In a clear display of contempt, during the last committee hearing, the Liberal party leader and Premier went so far as to substitute out the members of the party who were supportive of the bill during the hearings and the vote on the various amendments.  There was a very literal divide across the table, with all of one side voting to bring the bill forward and all of the other against it.

It is within the power of the Premier to unilaterally decide to not move a bill to its third reading, regardless of the support it has by constituents and government officials.  This was the case with Bill 16.  The bill was never allowed to go to its third reading.

The Premier at the time, Dalton McGuinty, later stepped down, effectively killing all active bills at the moment.  The term for this is proroguing.  At the time of his resignation Bill 16 was prorogued.

On October 1st 2013, MPP Hillier introduced a new bill that would end the “pit bull” ban in Ontario. Video was posted on Hillier’s website of the introduction of the bill.

This new bill will have to go through the same steps as the old bill, beginning with the first reading. The new bill faces the same challenges as all the other attempts to repeal the ban.  There have been several different bills and each one has met with resistance.

One of the more frustrating aspects of this is that in each case, including when the ban was originally passed, almost every person and organization, who testified at the various hearings, testified against the ban.  In spite of this, certain elements within the government refuse to act against it. As with all places where parts of the Government seem to have a personal investment in the ban, the fight in Ontario is an up hill battle.

The new Premier, Kathleen Wynne, has a history of being supportive of the ban.  On the Liberal party’s “Common Ground” website, a site for residents of Ontario to voice their opinions on what issues they feel the government should address, repealing the pit bull ban has been the most popular suggestion.

Every single resident of Ontario is encouraged to step forward, contact their MPP and ask them to support the repeal of this outdated and ineffective law.  Click here to find your representative.

Residents of Ontario can also join the Ontario “Pit Bull” Co-Op for up to date details on events and legislative information. This would be the best way to become actively involved locally.  It is important to remember that breed discriminatory laws do not change without active participation by residents in the areas these laws cover.

Hillier also has a petition on his site for residents of Ontario to sign.

Thank you, Debbie Black, for your insight into the Ontario legislative system.

Waterloo Wisconsin considering repeal of breed restrictions

Waterloo Wisconsin has a long standing breed discriminatory law.

Enacted in 1996, the ordinance targets the following dogs:

(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.”

The ordinance declares these dogs and their mixes vicious and imposes restrictions on them.  Dogs that are targeted must 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.  (full code)

Recently Watertown WI refused to pass a breed discriminatory law that is extremely similar to Waterloo’s ordinance.  Most likely Watertown officials had their proposal drafted from Waterloo’s law.  Officials in Waterloo took notice of the issue, and are now looking to revamp their own laws.

Alderwoman Laura Cotting suggested removing the breed discriminatory language at the October 3rd meeting of the Health and Safety Committee.  The Police Chief, Alderman Dale Van Holten and residents are all supportive of the changes.  They will be reviewing Watertown’s new ordinance for ideas on how to improve their own laws.

This is the perfect example of how passage or defeat of a breed discriminatory law causes a ripple effect in neighboring communities.

Those in the Waterloo area should attend the meetings to express support for a repeal.

Or you can politely, professionally and factually express support for a change to breed neutral.  Officials need encouragement from the community to know that they are supported in repealing the old breed based law.

MAYOR, Robert H. Thompson:  mayor@waterloowi.us
Alderperson at Large Angie Stinnett:  angie.stinnett@yahoo.com
Alderperson at Large Dale Van Holten:  dvdutchvh1@gmail.com
Alderperson at Large Jeni Quimby:  jeni@highenergydj.com
Alderperson Ward 1, Matt Ziaja:  matt.ziaja@gmail.com
Alderperson Ward 2, William Springer:  bspringr@charter.net
Alderperson Ward 3, Laura Cotting:  cottingel@gmail.com
Alderperson Ward 4 & 5 Lindsay Reynolds:  kittymania8@gmail.com

Norwalk Ohio considering repeal of discriminatory law

For many years the state of Ohio considered dogs deemed to be pit bulls vicious based solely on appearances.  As with all these laws, it is a misnomer to say that this law was based on breed because the actual breed of the dog was not considered, just that the dog looked a certain way.

After years of hard work involving many people and groups, the breed specific portion of state law was dropped in 2012.  We have seen many repeals on the smaller municipal level in response to this.  Now it appears that Norwalk may follow suit.

City Law Director Stuart O’Hara has said that the state law sufficiently covers the needs of the community when dealing with dangerous dogs, implying that local law should mirror state law.

Currently Norwalk’s ordinance classifies a dog deemed to be a pit bull as vicious, mirroring the old state law. From the ordinance:

(d)“Vicious dog” means a dog that meets any of the following: (3)Except as set forth herein below, belongs to a breed of dog commonly known as pit bull dog. The ownership, keeping or harboring of such a dog shall be prima-facie evidence of the ownership, keeping or harboring of a vicious dog…

This declaration of being vicious carries a long list of requirements, including confinement (kennel) requirements, muzzling, insurance and special registration. The full ordinance can be found here.

Residents and locals: Please reach out to offer encouragement and support for a repeal of Norwalk’s breed discriminatory law.

Council information:

Steve Euton: euton1@frontier.com

Deborah Lucal: dlucal15@aol.com

Robert Carleton: bcarleton1942@gmail.com

Samantha Ludwig: samludwig10@gmail.com

Chris Mushett: cmushett@hcjpc.com

Kelly Beck: kellysarahbeck@aol.com

Scott Meyer: ripwing212@aol.com

Stephen Schumm: sfschumm@aol.com

Waterford Michigan to hear repeal of ban June 10th

The repeal of Waterford Michigan’s long-standing breed ban will be heard for the first time during their June 10th township meeting.

The leg work of the repeal is being headed up by O.D.O.G.S, Oakland County Dog Ownership Group and Specialists. The group was founded by Mary Dunham after her dog was determined by Waterford officials to be a targeted dog. A DNA test was conducted after the township demanded it. The test determined that the dog, Keane, had no DNA from any targeted breed, and was mostly a lab.

O.D.O.G.S drafted a responsible pet ownership ordinance that would take the place of the current breed discriminatory law and has been working for some months now to educate the community about what a repeal would mean for everyone and to address concerns. The proposal was submitted on January 7th and officials have been taking their time reviewing all the information submitted to them.

The ban, which was enacted in 1989, includes any dog with even 1% of a targeted breed.  There are 3 breeds singled out, American Staffordshire Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier.  The ordinance is extremely broad sweeping in its language.  From the ordinance:

Pit bull or pit bull terrier means any dog which exhibits those phenotypical characteristics which:(1) Substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club for American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers.(2) Substantially conform to the breed standards established by the United Kennel Club for American Pit Bull Terriers. The standards of the United Kennel Club referred to herein as “Appendix A,” shall remain on file with the Township Clerk. Technical deficiencies in the dog’s conformance to the standards of this definition shall not be construed to indicate that the subject dog is not a “pit bull terrier” under this article.

This definition, with the inclusion of the language about technical deficiencies, casts such a wide net that virtually every short-haired dog becomes a target.

The ordinance is an interesting study because they include the reasons for passing it. Two particularly interesting pieces are found in Section 3-078 item (g)”4. The pit bull terriers’ massive canine jaws can crush a victim with up to two thousand (2,000) pounds of pressure per square inch, three (3) times that of a German shepherd or doberman pinscher, making the pit bull’s jaws the strongest of any animal, per pound.

5. The breeds are almost impossible to confine without resorting to fortress-like measures; pit bull terriers can climb over high chain link fences and trees, tear metal sheeting with its teeth, attack through chain link fencing, tear loose its collars, and dig under fences and walls, requiring the adoption of breed-specific restrictions on the care and custody of licensed pit bull terriers for the protection of the citizens of this community.”

Thanks to Dr. Brady Barr, we now know that the bite force of a “pit bull” is weaker than other breeds of dogs and other studies have shown that jaw strength is directly related to the size of the dog’s head, the larger the head, the stronger the jaw.  Section (5) is an amazing example of urban legend in action within the law.

Waterford is utilizing the materials from the UKC to visually make the determination a dog is banned.  The UKC has publicly and repeatedly announced that the use of their standards  and literature to enforce a breed discriminatory law is a violation of their copyright and an abuse of the material.

There is really not much of anything else regarding dangerous dogs in the code of ordinances.  They have 2 classifications of nuisance dogs but none for a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog. Dogs that bark excessively and dogs that “habitually attack other domestic animals” are the same by classification.

Waterford’s current laws are the perfect example of a complete failure to address the issues that cause dangerous dogs in any meaningful fashion, while allowing people to have the feeling they are protected.  The thinness of the law should be extremely concerning to all residents. The responsible pet ownership proposal will cover the gaping holes in the current law and protect all members of the community.

The proposal can be viewed here.

Waterford residents: Please attend the meeting to urge officials to help make the community safer by enacting the proposal and repealing the ban. The information the ban was relying on is outdated and the current law insufficient to affect community safety.  A change is needed and now is that opportunity for change.

South Bend Indiana is drafting changes to animal ordinance

Prompted by high euthanasia rates, City Councilwoman Valerie Schey has formed a committee to re-vamp South Bends laws regarding Animal Care and Control.

A committee has been formed to evaluate and re-draft the section of South bends code of ordinances relating to animals. The purpose of the committee is to create a more animal friendly and enforceable ordinance that would allow officials to better protect all members of the community, two and four-legged. One of the changes on the table is a repeal of the breed discriminatory section of the law. You can read more about the other changes being sought here.

South Bend has had a breed discriminatory law in place since 1987. The law restricts American Pit Bull Terriers and those resembling this breed only.  They are very clear in the definition that American Pit Bull Terrier is defined as the UKC (United Kennel Club) and ADBA (American Dog Breeders Association) standard but does not include the other breeds we usually see in these ordinances. Under section F. of the definitions we can see the breeds excluded from the ordinance:

” 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.).”

There really is no better way to convolute the enforcement of a breed discriminatory law than to take two very closely related breeds, so closely related that there is some debate about whether the two are the same breed, and restrict one but not the other.  Breed discriminatory laws are hard enough to enforce.

There is a long list of restrictions that must be met in order to have a targeted dog. An owner must have special registration, 2 photographs of the dog on file, $300,000 in insurance, a tattoo of the license number on the dog or microchip, breeding regulations and confinement regulations. This is just a summation of the restrictions. For a full list you can view the full code, Chapter 5, article 4.5.

The committee has set a schedule that would have the ordinance ready by the end of the month.

At this time the changes are still in their drafting stage, but residents should reach out to express polite and professional support for the changes being sought.

Thank you, Erin, for the information.

Osawtomie Kansas to review breed discriminatory ordinance

At the request of a resident who was targeted as the owner of a banned dog the city council in Osawtomie, Kansas is reviewing their breed discriminatory law.

A boxer mix was recently targeted as a banned dog, after being stopped by a police officer while being walked by it’s owner.  The dog had lived  in the community, without incident, for a year, when the owner was stopped. The owner was told he would have to remove the dog from the city, which he did.  This has brought the issue of the ban and whether or not it has worked for the community to the attention of City Council.

This past Thursday City Councilwoman Tamara Maichels formally raised the issue, along with a panel of dog experts from the community.

The council was presented with information, statistics and testimony that firmly disputes the basis for the ban.

A committee has been appointed to review the information provided and has been charged with the task of making a recommendation to the city council. Maichels plans to bring the committees recommendations to the May 9th council meeting.

Recommendations from experts and advocates in the community are stressing the importance of owner responsibility when addressing dangerous dogs in the community.

Residents only: Councilwoman Maichels has said that they want to hear what their constituents have to say, so it is very important to reach out and express support for putting the responsibility where it belongs, on the owners. Please remember to be factual and unemotional in any correspondences. Community safety is the number one priority for officials and breed neutral laws would go far to creating a safer community by freeing resources to address problem owners and protecting the citizens of Osawtomie from all dangerous dogs, regardless of their appearance.

If you are able to attend the May 9th meeting to show support for a repeal of Osawtomie’s ban please do so.