Tag Archives: city council

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.”

Baker City Oregon unanimously rejects breed discrimination

Following a fatal attack earlier this year, officials in Baker City Oregon were discussing the possibility of a breed discriminatory law targeting pit bull terrier like dogs.

The proposal would have declared targeted breeds to be dangerous and impose restrictions on them that were also to be imposed on dogs with a history of bad behavior. Targeted dogs would have included “… pit bull terrier, an American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier breed of any dog or any mix of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier as to be identifiable by the Hearing Officer as partially of the breed of American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier.”

A committee was formed to study the issue.  The committee examined many ordinances from across the country.   In the video from the last meeting, we have the opportunity to see the results of advocacy done right, and a group of council members who were very clearly concerned about the community, but needed just a little gentle guidance to come to the best possible ordinance.

During the discussion from the members of the committee and community, Councilor Coles made a motion to accept the proposal as is, minus the section that was breed based.  He cites the resolution from the American Bar Association urging municipalities to pass breed neutral laws as having had a great impact on him.  At that time there was no second, but a comment from another councilor that they would like to hear the rest of the testimony regarding the proposal.

Not one person who spoke, spoke in favor of breed based language. Watching the decorum of the speakers in very interesting.  Each speaker thanked the council and praised the process, starting off their commentary on a positive note.  At no time were any direct comments made about the council, or the council members, all comments were reserved for the material.

At the end, the initial motion to strike the breed discriminatory language is seconded by Councilwoman Mosier, who proceeds to make the commentary that is transcribed below. (edited for length, full comment available in the video linked above)

“I don’t have any special love for pit bulls or for any particular breed.  For me what it has come down to is increased community safety…All of the studies that I read…and pieces of information from peer-reviewed sources seemed to come down to the idea that multi-faceted approaches work best in achieving community safety.  That means not just banning a specific breed or restricting a specific breed, but community education, and insuring that we have problem pet owners addressed and insuring that we have dangerous dog ordinances enforced and that there are many fronts that have to be addressed in order to actually achieve community safety…I have a list of the organizations that support breed neutral ordinances and I’d just like to read them for you…the CDC, the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Animal Control Association, the Humane Society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Best Friends Animal Society, the American Bar Association and the White House even had an article supporting breed neutral ordinances that address… the problems that tend to lead to dangerous dog situations…There was one set of statistics that I did see…that refers to some success of such legislation but for my money that one set of statistics, or that one set of scenarios that cited success of breed specific legislation doesn’t outweigh that long list of peer-reviewed studies.

The council unanimously voted to remove all breed discriminatory language from the ordinance.

The proposal, as it stands now, addresses many things that will improve community safety, including addressing tethering, a tiered declaration for dogs who, based on their behavior, are causing issues in the community, mandatory obedience training for dogs declared dangerous and a section specific to reckless dog owners.  More communities are moving to enact reckless dog owner ordinances.  Most dangerous dog legislation follows the dog but does not address repeated negligent behavior by the owner.  Reckless dog owner ordinances make sure that people who have a history of not operating proper care and control of their dogs are held accountable for their history of negligent behavior.  Educational programs for school children were also discussed as a supplement to the ordinance.

If anyone would like to reach out and thank the council for their common sense, community based approach, the council members contact information is below.

Richard Langrell:  richard@alwayswelcomeinnbakercity.com
Clair Button: cfbutton@gmail.com
Roger Coles: krcoles@msn.com
Dennis Dorrah: dennisdorrah@gmail.com
Mike Downing: mdowning@bakercity.com
Barbara Johnson: bjohnson@bakercity.com
Kim Mosier: kim.mosier.esq@gmail.com

Thanks to the Portland Pit Bull project for continuing to update on this issue.

A message from Aurora Colorado regarding potential repeal of their ban

It has been a long hard road to repeal the breed ban in Aurora Colorado.  There have many attempts to have the council address the issue via letter writing campaigns, requests to the council directly and other tactics, which would be best described as “frontal assaults.”

One of the biggest things that tends to trip up efforts such as this is the inability to remain factual, letting emotion override reasonable discourse.  We see this time and time again, Broward County Florida this past summer and Yakima Washington this past week are just a couple of examples from recently.  Officials  say that the process is not respected adequately and the result is often the same in every municipality, legislators shut down to the conversation, and dig in to the status quo.

Aurora is at a tipping point.  The council has pledged to give the issue thoughtful examination, and word from inside Aurora shows that this is not an empty promise.

ColoRADogs, a local advocacy group that has been working towards a repeal, has published a letter for those in the area about what is taking place behind the scenes and what is needed to help continue the discussion in a productive manner.

Keeping thoughtful discourse open requires several things in this case specifically.  The issue will be addressed in January 2014, but the council members are wearing thin on having the regular city business interrupted.  At this time, people are being asked to withhold public commentary at the council meetings until the issue is brought forward in January, as this will put the issue in jeopardy.  For residents (and residents ONLY) who wish to write, one of the council members has made some suggestions for keeping correspondence productive.

Remember that this is a political process.  When we engage in the political process, we must attempt to think like a politician.  The “frontal assault” tactics have failed before and advocates are trying to keep this from happening again.

The following is republished with permission from ColoRADogs:

“Addressing BSL in Aurora and my conversation with Councilwoman Peterson

I apologize for the delay of my post. I have spent considerable time drafting a post that will convey the importance of the CM Renie Peterson’s suggestions and concerns, while remaining sensitive to the urgency and concerns of fellow animal advocates.  All I can do in that regard is assure you all that this subject is deeply personal to me, as well, and I am conveying this information in attempt to preserve the possibility of repealing Aurora’s Restricted Breed Ordinance and creating a model responsible ownership community for other cities to emulate.

By accomplishing these two things, and preserving the line of communication we create in doing so, we can achieve more safe and humane communities across the state, improve shelter conditions, reduce shelter intake, and encourage shelters to save lives through behavioral programs and rescue partnerships.  That’s another post, let’s get to Renie’s concerns and suggestions.

CM Peterson shared with me that repealing the ban is attainable only if we keep the line of communication open by respecting the council, the process and the city of Aurora.   Many of the members of council and the Mayor want to give this issue the time it deserves.  This will be proposed in January, provided council does not feel regular city business is disrupted before then. Renie did share that members of council feel bombarded with a profoundly negative message, by non-constituents and some constituents, at the regular city council meetings and this is already wearing on them.

I would ask you to forgive my bluntness, but we simply do not have the opportunity to mince words at this point.  It has come to my attention that some advocates plan on addressing council again this month.  Please respect the time of council and the fact they have already agreed to hear us out in January and give them this time to finish their current projects for 2013 and begin their reorganizing for 2014.  Addressing them again this month only serves to break down the relationship.

If advocates continue the negativity and disrespect towards their time and their city the proposal to repeal will be dropped at any time, and we currently face the very real possibility of not being allowed the opportunity for discussion.  For those of you there in 2011, you know the difficulties that presents  It’s not very effective trying to coach a council member through facial expressions from the sidelines.  We need to be in on the conversation.  Change happens through productive dialogue and it is up to us to see that we have that opportunity.

Today I sat in a jury room for hours watching other potential jurors being asked questions first by the prosecutor who brought them in by empowering them. Then I watched a (I presume new) defense attorney tear them down through her own style of questioning which bordered on accusatory, as if they were the prosecution’s witness.  The jurors visibly became defensive and lost focus on the questions as they focused on their new-found hatred for this defense attorney. Council members are like jurors.  Win them over!  Make them want to be on your side!  They don’t owe you or I anything, their duty is to  do what is best for the city and their constituents as a whole.  We can provide the knowledge and the tools, council will make the decisions.

So let’s lighten this up a little and get to the fun part!  Suggestions!  How we can win them over!  While you may have heard some of these from me before, the general suggestions are straight from an Aurora Councilwoman.

GRATITUDE!  Yes, you can be sincere and do this.  Remember despite some of the same challenges, progress was made in 2011, thank Council for continuing to work with us and thank them for choosing to move the proposal forward.  Please be sure to thank CM Renie Peterson for bringing this to council.

KEEP IT LOCAL!  Like I said before, council wants to hear from their constituents but if they start seeing the majority of messages are not from constituents they will not have the time to read and the message will be lost altogether.  If you do not live here but want to help , recruit Aurora citizens or a highly regarded expert (star power, anyone?)

KEEP IT POSITIVE!  What?  How?  Actually, it’s not that hard if you think about how exciting and fun  it would be to create a model responsible ownership community in our very own city.  Focus on the future possibilities. If you have been personally effected, that is important to share that experience, and this is not an attempt to marginalize your experience. We will share the facts of how BSL has been unsuccessful but the overall message should be positive as we explore how reversing the ban will reflect well on the city.

SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT!  Let the council know you support their efforts spent exploring the repeal of the ban, that you support the repeal, you support reckless owner laws, you support a safer and more humane Aurora, you support the Animal Care and Control in working with citizens and supporting organizations.  I will say it again.  SUPPORT!

Thank you for reading this through, happy advocating and as always, Take C.A.R.E!
Calm-Approachable-Respectful-Educated
Jennifer Bryant
Community Outreach Director
ColoRADogs
j.bryant@ColoRADogs.org

Waterloo Iowa rejects calls for breed discriminatory law

At last nights City Council meeting in Waterloo Iowa, city officials rejected calls for a ban or restrictions on pit bulls.

Sandie Greco, the department head of Waterloo Animal Control, told the packed City Council meeting that there will be updates to the dangerous dog laws, in a breed neutral way.

We’re basically going for nonspecific breeds.  To specify a breed to be banned does not work.

City staff had discussed breed discriminatory ordinances with some other towns that have these laws, such as  Omaha, Nebraska and Des Moines, Iowa.

Interestingly Omaha just had an article published lauding the success of their breed based law.  In the article, it stated that bites from pit bulls are way down, but there has been an increase in attacks from other breeds.  It would appear that despite the claimed successes of this law, officials in Waterloo were unconvinced.  There is a lot to be unconvinced of, considering that, overall, Omaha is no safer than before they passed their breed based dangerous dog law.  In fact, based on the numbers provided by Brent Toellner Omaha has experienced a general stasis in attacks, with the highest amount of bites in six years occurring in 2012.

Whatever it was that officials saw or heard from those other municipalities, Waterloo leaders made the right choice.  The new law is set to target irresponsible owners by raising fines associated with vicious and potentially dangerous dogs, a possible reckless owner designation that would prevent repeat irresponsible owners from being allowed to own a dog for several years, and the altering and microchipping of any dog picked up by animal control. Other suggestions were made at last nights meeting as well.

The details of the ordinance are still being solidified.  We look forward to seeing the results of Waterloo’s common sense approach.

When the Council has an ordinance ready for a vote, there will be hearings for public input.  People should remain active in the process, in order to help draft the most effective breed neutral law possible for the welfare of the entire community.

Previous alert for Waterloo: http://stopbsl.org/2013/09/01/waterloo-iowa-officials-are-discussing-breed-based-restrictions/

Burnaby Canada increases penalties to own restricted breeds

Last night the Burnaby City Council voted unanimously to increase the fines and penalties associated with their breed discriminatory law despite vocal opposition.

Citing an increase in dog bites in recent years, the Council decided to look at their animal control by laws to see what they can do about attacks.  A rather flawed report was put together citing pit bulls and German Shepherds as the primary culprits of attacks.  A local professor analyzed the numbers behind the report, which claimed that the two groups of dogs were attacking in disproportionate numbers.  Among the issues with the report was a question of the premise that attacks have been on the rise in Burnaby.  Also noted is the lack of investigation into a rise in population as a possible explanation for the claimed rise in bites.  This is not to say that rise in population has to equate a rise in dog related incidents as Calgary has proven year after year but if officials are trying to find the core of an issue, all sides must be evaluated in order to best come up with an ethical and responsible solution.

Another issue is breed identification.  Supposedly only 2% of registered dogs are pit bulls.  The population of targeted dogs would be underestimated because the reporting is based on the owners ID.  Because pit bulls are restricted, some owners may be labeling their dogs as other breeds or mixes, so they would not have to comply with the regulations.

Many people voiced opposition to the potential increase in fines and fees associated with ownership of targeted dogs.  Included in these were advocates, dog professionals, lawyers and regular members of the community whose professions are not related to the topic.

The changes raise licensing fees for targeted breeds to $150 per year, fines for unmuzzled targeted dogs was raised to $200 and impoundment fees to $400.

Targeted dogs are defined as: “a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, an American Pit Bull Terrier and any dog generally recognized as a pit bull or pit bull terrier and includes a dog of mixed breed with predominant pit bull or pit bull terrier characteristics.

Officials were cited data from pro-BDL lobbyists.  This data was all based in the United States, not Canada.  There was an agenda in the use of the source, seeking data to support their argument, rather than dealing with local data, which presented a weak case.

After the meeting advocate April Fahr was quoted in the news saying, “We also have to ask ourselves, well, six per cent of pit bull bites occurred in Burnaby over the last ten years — what are we doing about that other 94 per cent of bites? What happened here tonight that’s going to prevent those other 94 percent of bites?”

Certainly a question to ponder, and one which officials have roundly ignored.

Great Bend KS to discuss ban

The Great Bend City Council will discuss a possible breed ban during their next meeting.

The meeting will be held on Monday May 20th.

There is limited information at this time about what positions the council takes and this appears to be a residents request that is being considered. The Council will consider a ban on “pit bulls and other vicious dogs.

The Great Bend City Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the City Office, 1209 Williams, Great Bend, Kansas.

Residents and locals: Please attend the meeting to respectfully and factually support breed neutral laws. Alternatives to breed discrimination can be found here. Tips for contacting legislators can be found here.

If you cannot attend the meeting please write with your opposition to a ban.

The Great Bend staff directory can be found on the cities website.

There are no e-mail addresses available for the individual council members but you may write to the City Administrator City Howard Partington at
hdpart@greatbend.com with a note that the correspondence is for the council.

Flemingsburg Kentucky City Council passes first reading of breed ban

At Monday nights meeting, Flemingsburg Kentucky City Council voted unanimously to alter their current breed discriminatory ordinance, which regulates pit bulls, to a complete ban.

Members of the council cite complaints from their constituents about dogs at large as the reason for the change.  Once again, a municipality has instituted a breed specific ordinance that has failed to increase the overall safety of the community.  Instead of recognizing the ordinances failures and instituting strong breed neutral regulations, they choose instead to continue to waste resources on targeting dogs based on their appearance.

All dogs deemed to be a targeted dog would have to be removed 30 days after the passage of the proposal.  A fine of $250 accompanies the loss of the dog.

All members of the community should be concerned about the current state of animal control. Proper reform will finally begin with officials abandoning the breed discriminatory laws and instituting a strong owner based law that would provide hefty penalties for non-compliance and a more easily enforceable standard.  The community will find much more of the animal control resources available to address problem owners when they stop targeting dogs based on appearance.

Flemingsburg residents and locals: The second reading of the ordinance will be on June 10th.  Reach out, politely, to officials to offer breed neutral alternatives, that would increase public safety and keep animal control funds where they need to be.

Often officials do not know what they are doing in crafting these ordinances. It is up to those of us who are knowledgeable to help point them in the direction of effective laws.

Contact information for the council is spotty.  Some of the Council members have chosen to not provide contact information but others have.

City Clerk Joy Roark: joyroark@altiusbb.com

Council Member Meredith Story: MLSTORY@windstream.ne

Council Member Scott Manning: (606) 845-6301

Council Member Van Alexander: (606) 845-1531