Tag Archives: court

Best Friends Alert for Arkansas

A bill has been introduced on the state level that will create vast inconsistencies in the animal laws throughout the state.  SB 910 would allow Quorum Courts, also commonly known as Commissions Courts, to pass laws regarding animals in any manner they chose should the majority of landowners petition for a change.

Quorum Courts are not courts per say, but are more like a County Board of Commissioners, in that they do not create judicial rulings but instead act as a legislative body that oversees legislative action on the county level.

Most concerning about this bill is that it does not impose any kind of limitations on the kinds of laws these Courts can pass. The most concerning portion of this bill is the part that reads

including without limitation”

Though the bill specifically mentions leash laws, this language that precedes mention of leash laws leaves the powers of the courts open to anything that the officials would like, including breed specific laws.

This would leave an enormous difference in the laws from community to community, with no consistency, or regard for personal property rights.

Full text of SB 910 can be found here.

Arkansas residents: Please reach out now to your legislators to oppose this bill. Good animal laws are ones that are clearly defined and consistent for all members of the community, things that this bill is not.

You can find your legislators here.

If you are having trouble wording your own correspondence you can use the form Best Friends Animal Society has set up.  Please remember that by personalizing the first portion of this e-mail form, the correspondence becomes that much more effective.

Garland County, AR: Breed ban proposed

UPDATE:  According to local reports, Garland County will not enact BSL at this time.  We are awaiting copy of the enacted amendment and will post as soon as it is available.  In the meantime, thank you to John for sharing this information from a local paper:

Amendment includes; County wide have to fence dogs. All dogs- from cocker spaniels to labs, no matter if you’ve got 1 lot or 250 acres. County wide leash law too. Moving fines up to $500 first offense, 90 days in jail, which is class C, becoming a class B misdemeanor (1 year in jail and thousand dollar fine) if your dog is out of a fence and not on a leash. Also mandatory education if they get caught, forcing them to witness euthanasia on stray dogs, financial liability if the dog bites.
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Garland County, AR:  UPDATE

The Quorum Court took input from residents Monday night before starting work on a new committee specializing in vicious dogs.

County leaders say there have been at least four cases in recent months when a pit bull attacked a human or another animal.  Justice Mary Bournival says action must be taken.

“Though I am not leaning toward any breed specific action at this time, we can’t ignore the obvious here. Pit bulls are inherently dangerous. Not all pit bulls attack. But all of our attacks have been pit bulls,” said Bournival.

No decision was made. The meeting was only a forum to allow the community to react.

Leaders say they will now form a community subcommittee to address this issue and make recommendations to county leaders.  The animal committee is made up of law enforcement, animal control, and local officials tasked with drafting a new ordinance to address what’s considered a growing problem of roaming vicious dogs.

One official says no time table has been set for the draft of the new ordinance that may be the last thing between an entire ban on vicious dogs, that may include pit bulls.

“If what we draft this time around we find is not dealing with the issue,” said Justice of the Peace Mary Bournival, “then the ban may pop its ugly head.”

Please contact the Quorum Court director, Rick Davis, County Judge, at (501) 622-3600 or email address RDavis@garlandcounty.org with any POLITE, RESPECTFUL, and INFORMATIVE correspondence including breed-less alternatives that can be passed on to subcommittee members.

http://www.fox16.com/news/local/story/Garland-Cty-leaders-ponder-vicious-dog-ordinance/zCjFtBdxBE2ufnBbM3xJjQ.cspx

http://www.katv.com/story/19568620/garland-county-working-on-new-ordinance-after-pit-bulls-attacks

According to the article below, the Quorum Court of Garland County, AR, will discuss a possible county-wide ban on “pit bulls” on September 17. I’m not sure why the date is given as September 17, since the schedule states that Quorum Court meetings are held on the second Monday of each month. Per the county website, the next meeting is scheduled for September 10 at 7:00 PM.

For clarification regarding the exact time/date of the Quorum Court meeting when this will be discussed, please contact the Quorum Court director, Rick Davis, County Judge, at (501) 622-3600 or email address RDavis@garlandcounty.org.

The Quorum Court members are Justices of the Peace and their contact information can be viewed here: http://www.garlandcounty.org/file.php?id=351 However, the most effective means of conveying your opinion about a potential breed ban or BSL would be for you to attend the upcoming Quorum Court meeting.

UPDATE: Garland County pit bull attacks bring calls for ban on breed

Posted: Aug 28, 2012 6:51 PM CDT
By Matt Johnson

[...] “We haven’t done enough to protect the people,” said Mary Bournival, Garland County Justice of the Peace.

She says a county-wide ban on pit bulls will be discussed at next Quorum Court meeting on September 17.

“I would prefer to ban the breed than to continue allowing these to happen,” said Bournival. [...]

Full article retrieved 9/1/12 from http://www.katv.com/story/19401161/garland-county-pit-bull-attacks-bring-calls-for-ban-on-breed

Garland County, AR: Breed ban proposed

According to the article below, the Quorum Court of Garland County, AR, will discuss a possible county-wide ban on “pit bulls” on September 17. I’m not sure why the date is given as September 17, since the schedule states that Quorum Court meetings are held on the second Monday of each month. Per the county website, the next meeting is scheduled for September 10 at 7:00 PM.

For clarification regarding the exact time/date of the Quorum Court meeting when this will be discussed, please contact the Quorum Court director, Rick Davis, County Judge, at (501) 622-3600 or email address RDavis@garlandcounty.org.

The Quorum Court members are Justices of the Peace and their contact information can be viewed here: http://www.garlandcounty.org/file.php?id=351 However, the most effective means of conveying your opinion about a potential breed ban or BSL would be for you to attend the upcoming Quorum Court meeting.

UPDATE: Garland County pit bull attacks bring calls for ban on breed

Posted: Aug 28, 2012 6:51 PM CDT
By Matt Johnson

[...] “We haven’t done enough to protect the people,” said Mary Bournival, Garland County Justice of the Peace.

She says a county-wide ban on pit bulls will be discussed at next Quorum Court meeting on September 17.

“I would prefer to ban the breed than to continue allowing these to happen,” said Bournival. [...]

Full article retrieved 9/1/12 from http://www.katv.com/story/19401161/garland-county-pit-bull-attacks-bring-calls-for-ban-on-breed

Maryland: Court partially reverses breed-discriminatory decision

The Maryland Court of Appeals has partially reversed their decision in Tracey v Solesky. Whereas the original decision applied strict liability to owners of “pit bulls” and “crossbreed pit bulls” and their landlords, the reversal removes reference to crossbreed and mixed breed pit bulls. However, it leaves intact strict liability for owners and landlords of “pit bulls”—and the term “pit bull” remains undefined by the court.

The court’s reasoning is that the Tracey v Solesky case only involved dogs referred to as “pit bull,” “pit bull dog,” or “pit bull terrier.” The dogs were never referred to as mixes or crossbreeds, and the court can’t issue a decision that involves something that was not the subject of the original case; therefore, the court can only issue a decision about “pit bulls.”

Unfortunately, the decision as it stands still does not define “pit bull,” so it is impossible to know exactly which breeds are included in this ruling. Also, the court did not explain how a non-crossbred (i.e. purebred) “pit bull” could be proven to exist.

The court narrowed the application of the decision to a dog that is called a “pit bull” or “pit bull terrier.” The court’s designation of strict liability therefore only applies to those owners who consistently refer to their dog, or allow others to refer to their dog, as a “pit bull,” “pit bull dog,” or “pit bull terrier”—but the ruling does not apply to owners who call their dog a “mix” or a “cross.” Following the same reasoning that the court used to narrow their decision, the case did not involve, nor did the court name, any specific breed (only a non-breed, “pit bull”); therefore, strict liability might not apply to owners of purebred dogs who avoid shorthand breed references and always use a full breed name to refer to their dog (ergo, their dog is some official breed, not just a “pit bull”).**

**Mind you, I am NOT a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice. Rather, you can see how the court’s partial-reversal hasn’t cleared anything up, but instead has left us with an even more confusing mess.

HSUS Maryland has created a very helpful info sheet for Maryland renters with dogs: HSUS Info for Renters and Dog Owners

PBLN had a good discussion about the ruling at the beginning of their 8/21/12 radio show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pit-bulletin-legal-news/2012/08/22/austin-no-kill-bsl-dbo-brent-toellner-ryan-clinton-1

I’m sure other organizations will have good discussion of the court’s revised decision and its possible effects over the next few days.

We will be interested to see how the Maryland legislature addresses this mess during the next legislative session, which will begin in January.

You can read the court’s Motion for Reconsideration decision here: http://mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2012/53a11re.pdf

Court partly backs off pit bull ruling

Judge admits error in applying decision to cross-bred dogs

By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
12:08 p.m. EDT, August 21, 2012

Maryland’s highest court on Tuesday partly backed off its widely criticized April decision that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, admitting that it went too far when it applied its ruling to cross-bred dogs.[...]

In a decision written by Judge Alan M. Wilner, the court stood by its finding about purebred pit bulls but canceled its reference to cross-breds.

Wilner, a retired judge who sat with the court on the original case, wrote that having re-read the briefs and the dissent in the case, he now believes the decision to extend the ruling to cross-bred pit bulls was “both gratuitous and erroneous.” [...]

Wilner said nothing in the court record showed that Tracey had ever contended the animal was anything other than a pit bull terrier. [...]

Full article retrieved 8/21/12 from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-pit-bull-decision-20120821,0,4806033.story

Maryland: Special session ends, dog bite bill fails to pass

The Maryland Senate and House each voted overwhelmingly for their own version of the “dog bite” bill. Both versions would have reversed the breed-discriminatory Solesky court decision.

Unfortunately, they could not agree with each other over the final version. The special session ended with the House and Senate at an impasse.

Part of the problem lies in the extremely short time frame that is typical of special sessions. Although legislators overwhelmingly agreed that the court decision was wrong and needed to be reversed, they had very little time to consider their options or work out differences of opinion.

The legislature will undoubtedly take up this issue again during the regular legislative session, which begins in January 2013. Hopefully they will be able to come to agreement at that time, and get a meaningful bill passed.

In the meantime, the Court of Appeals decision in Solesky, which imposes strict liability on “pit bull” owners and landlords, is NOT yet in effect. The court decision is on hold following a Motion for Reconsideration.

You can read more about the Maryland special session outcome here:
Baltimore Sun coverage: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-pit-bull-bill-tuesday-20120814,0,4170156.story
WBAL coverage: http://www.wbal.com/article/93006/2/template-story/House-Passes-Extended-Gambling-Dog-Bill-Wont-Pass

Manchester, MO: Resident sues city for “unconstitutional” BSL

Manchester Sued Over Dog Ordinance

In a recently filed lawsuit, a resident claims Manchester’s pitbull ordinance is unconstitutional and vague.

By Carlos Restrepo
August 10, 2012

[... Manchester resident] McRoberts said in the lawsuit that her dogs were only characterized by Manchester police as “vicious” based on their appearance, not the actual breed or behavior of the dogs. The lawsuit states that appearance is subjective and open to interpretation, which gives Manchester too much discretion over what constitutes a vicious dog.

“…and thus violates the plaintiff’s constitutional rights (of due process),” the lawsuit states. [...]

McRoberts seeks for the court to declare Manchester’s ordinance unconstitutional and to be refunded for expenditures relating to this lawsuit. [...]

Full article retrieved 8/12/12 from http://townandcountry-manchester.patch.com/articles/manchester-sued-over-dog-ordinance

Maryland update: House will consider bills to reverse breed-discriminatory court decision, Aug 13

The Maryland Senate has passed the “dog bite bill” in an attempt to resolve the many problems caused by the recent Tracey v. Solesky court decision. Among other changes, the Senate bill moves all dog owners to strict liability, regardless of the dog’s breed.

The Maryland House will take up the issue on Monday, August 13. There are four different House bills dealing with this issue: HB 2, HB 3, HB 4, and HB 5. These bills are all slightly different. Only HB 2 moves all dog owners to strict liability (like the Senate bill). The other three proposals would restore common law liability.

There’s no question that most Maryland legislators DO want to undo the Solesky court decision. But they don’t all agree on how that should be done. Some legislators and individuals have valid concerns about the Senate bill and the hasty move to strict liability. Others feel that something is better than nothing. All are concerned that the effort to fix the court ruling will fall apart if they can’t reach consensus.

The House bills can be read here:
HB 2: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0002f.pdf
HB 3: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0003f.pdf
HB 4: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0004f.pdf
HB 5: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012s2/bills/hb/hb0005f.pdf