Tag Archives: dangerous dog

Georgia bill to prohibit breed discriminatory laws moves forward

A bill that was introduced in the Georgia state legislature would prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level.

SB 184 is a relatively simple bill.  It would amend the current dangerous dog law to include the following language:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 4-8-1, no county, municipality, or local 12 authority shall adopt any ordinance or resolution for the regulation of domestic dogs that 13 classifies based on breed.

Most importantly, the bill expressly includes language that would repeal all existing breed discriminatory laws.

Last week, SB 184 cleared the Senate and moved on to the House.  The vote of 42-11 was a decisive victory for the bill.  SB 184 has been assigned to the House Government Affairs committee.

There is a companion bill in the House, HB 124.  This bill is identical in its language to SB 184.  This bill has cleared the second reading and is moving to the Senate side.  The fact that these bills have cleared the sides of the legislature that they started on is a very good sign.  There is support for the end of breed discriminatory laws on both sides.

The passage of these bills would be a huge step.  We do not see a lot of southern states taking on the issue of breed discriminatory laws and BDL seems to be more common in the south than in the north and west percentage wise.  Not only would this bill protect the rights of residents, it would also have a huge impact on the surrounding states and open the door to consideration of similar bills in the surrounding area.

GEORGIA RESIDENTS:  It is imperative that you continue to reach out to express support for this bill.  Take the time to write your Representative a note of support for SB 184.  A list of members of the House can be found here: http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx

You can find your specific Representative here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

The contact information for the House Government affairs committee is as follows:
Rep. Ed Rynders, Chair:  ed.rynders@house.ga.gov
Rep. Buzz Brockway,: buzz.brockway@house.ga.gov
Rep. Tyrone Brooks:  tyrone.brooks@house.ga.gov
Rep. Barry Fleming: barry.fleming@house.ga.gov
Rep. Hugh Floyd:  hugh.floyd@house.ga.gov
Rep. Mark Hamilton:  mark.hamilton@house.ga.gov
Rep. Dustin Hightower: dustin.hightower@house.ga.gov
Rep. Rusty Kidd:  rusty.kidd@house.ga.gov
Rep. Eddie Lumsden: eddie.lumsden@house.ga.gov
Rep. John Meadows:  john.meadows@house.ga.gov
Rep. Howard Mosby:  howard.mosby@house.ga.gov
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver: mary.oliver@house.ga.gov
Rep. Larry O’Neal:  larry.oneal@house.ga.gov
Rep. Alan Powell:  alan.powell@house.ga.gov
Rep. Jay Powell:  jay.powell@house.ga.gov
Rep. Tom Taylor:  tom.taylor@house.ga.gov
Rep. Darlene K. Taylor:  darlene.taylor@house.ga.gov
Rep. Bruce Williamson: bruce.williamson@house.ga.gov

Platteville, WI discussing possible pit bull ban

Tuesday night, the Plateville common council discussed changes to their dangerous dog laws.

Among the possible changes discussed is a ban on “pit bulls.”

The proposal would make it

 “unlawful to own, harbor or keep any animal which:…are pure bred commonly known as put bull, pit bull dog, or pit bull terrier and/or includes a mixed breed of any of the following:…
A.  the pit 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”

 

There is nothing that says how this would be implemented, how dogs will be identified or how a person can contest the determination of being banned.  In fact, there is no due process at all.

Also, the proposal is listed as having no fiscal impact and requiring no budget increase.  The Best Friends Animal Society fiscal impact calculator lists the estimated annual cost at over $16,000.  This calculator has been tested against actual cost of implementation in places with breed discriminatory laws and has been shown repeatedly to be extremely accurate.

The discussion comes after an attack on a Chihuahua by two dogs identified as  pit bulls.  The dogs owner was not cited, though the dogs seem to have been removed from the community at this time.

The idea to ban “pit bulls” from Platteville was raised by Alderman Mike Denn.  Whether this is at the request of the resident whose dog was attacked is unknown.

At the meeting this Tuesday, several people signed up to speak in opposition to a breed discriminatory law.

The proposed changes also extend police power in an alarming way.  It would allow officers to kill a dog that has been found roaming if they determine the dog is of “vicious character.”  There is no information about due process or how this “vicious character” is going to be determined.

There is some potential good in the proposal.  It would outline the proper care of animals and outlaw mistreatment of dogs to be made illegal.  It would prevent people from keeping dogs without shelter or with inadequate shelter.  It also clarifies some of the breed neutral dangerous dog language.  This is very positive but there are many flaws in the proposal.

The proposal has been sent to the Freudenreich Animal Care Trust Fund Committee for further study.

There is no denying that there is an issue with loose dogs.  How prevalent this issue is, is unclear.  Stepped up enforcement of existing ordinances, and actually legally holding people responsible for the actions of their dogs would be one place to start.  The owners of the dogs that are responsible for any attack should be held responsible in some way, either criminally or civilly, with due process protections.  Further, people who are not managing their dogs properly in the community should be held responsible before an incident even happens.  Stringent enforcement of leash laws, licensing (if the town does so) and other basic breed neutral ways go a long way to preventing issues in the first place. It is very likely that this was not the first time these particular dogs were out loose and there should never be a second time.

Breed discriminatory laws invariably contain a wealth of due process and constitutional violations by their very nature and are expensive and difficult to enforce.  More and more, we are seeing people stepping up to challenge them legally and the breed discriminatory laws being over turned.  More pertinent, is that more and more towns are repealing their old breed discriminatory laws because they have found them to be completely ineffective in making the community safer.

Platteville residents and others in the community are encouraged to respectfully reach out to officials to oppose the implementation of any breed discriminatory law.  Residents and locals should also reach out to Wisconsin Voters for Companions Animals, one of our partner organizations, if they are looking for a way to get involved but aren’t sure were to begin.  They can be contacted via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wivoters or via e-mail  wivotersforcompanionanimals@gmail.com.

Two repeals from Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Two cities voted to repeal their breed discriminatory laws during city council meetings on Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

Juneau, WI:  Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals, one of our partner organizations, reported that the council in Juneau voted unanimously to repeal their law.  The repeal comes after a new resident moved into the town.  The resident, Renada Sharp, had moved into town with a banned type of dog, not knowing at the time that there was a breed ban in place.  When Sharp found out about the ban, she requested that the council repeal the ordinance. The initial request was made a couple of months before the repeal was officially drafted and heard.  This is a pretty typical time line for a repeal that is fully supported by the council.  The local police chief stated to the news media that the ordinance was “unnecessary” because the town already had a breed neutral dangerous dog law in place.  It is interesting that this was passed in the first place.  The law is not an old one in the scheme of breed discriminatory laws.  Most municipalities do better than passing them in the first place, now that we have better science and understanding of the factors that drive dangerous dogs.

Grandview, MO:  We don’t have many details on the driving factors behind this repeal at this time.  Grandview is a relatively small town, and it appears that news media have not picked up on this story.  Brent Toellner, from KC Dog Blog, reported the repeal Tuesday night.  We do know that the repeal, was once again, a unanimous vote.  Grandview’s repeal follows a repeal from Roeland Park, MO, who repealed their breed discriminatory law in the end of January, and an ever growing list from the state in general from last year.

Two unanimous repeals on the same night.

When officials are presented with the latest studies and statistics from their towns, the result is the same.  In some cases, repeal takes more energy and people than in others.  The political climate and whether any officials have an investment of ego in the breed discriminatory law are both huge factors in how seamless a repeal will be.  There is no one formula that will work in every place but the ultimate goal is always safer and more humane communities, and every repeal brings us closer to this goal.

2014 Year in Review

It is time to take a look back at 2014, and what the year has brought us in the world of breed discriminatory laws.  2013 was a good year, but pales in comparison to what happened this year.

Below is a list of passages, repeals and rejections of breed discriminatory laws, as well as some notable court cases.  For our purposes, rejection means when a breed discriminatory law of any kind was brought up by an official and discussed.  Because of this, this list may vary from what others consider a rejection, which differs greatly depending on who is asked.  We use this definition in order to have a base from year to year, with which to compare.


Repeals:
Kennet, MO
Bonner Springs, KS
Canton, MI
Waterloo, WI
Bradford, PA
Clayton, MO
Garden City, KS
South Bend, Indiana
Washington Court, OH
Dearborn County, Indiana
Muscoda, WI
Hallsville, MO
Spring Hill, KS
Fairway, KS
Moreauville, LA
Cambridge, WI
16 total


Partial repeal:
Whitepine, Tennessee


Rejection:
El Dorado KS-rejected adding breeds to existing law
Cincinnati, OH
League City, TX
Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana
Randolph County, AR
Madison, WI
Medford, OR
Monticello, AR
Springdale, AR
Baker City, OR
10 total


Passage:
Lake Elsinore, CA MSN
Carroll County, MS
Humphrey, AR (“pit bulls” Rottweilers and Bull Mastiffs)
3 total


State:

In 2014 both Utah and South Dakota passed state-wide prohibitions against breed discriminatory laws.  Washington, Missouri and Maryland all attempted similar bills but ultimately the bills died at some point in the process.

Maryland:  Legislators finally passed a bill that over turned the disastrous court of appeals ruling in the case of Tracey v Solesky.  Legislators were hung up on the standard of liability for dog owners, but were unanimous about the need to over rule the landlord liability for dog bites and the breed discriminatory part of the ruling.  They finally reached a consensus after years of debate.


Court cases:

New Llano, Louisiana:  Unenforceable by court order.  The Nelson family sued the town of New Llano after they were told to remove their dog from the town or risk her being killed.  The Nelsons had just moved to New Llano and were un-aware of the ban.  Mazzy was held in boarding for a long time as the court case went through the process.  An injunction was filed and granted by the judge.  This case is still technically active.

Clay, Alabama:  In early 2013, the town of Clay passed a breed ban.  This was immediately challenged and mid 2013 an injunction was filed.  2014 saw that case before the courts and the judge ruled against the town.  A couple notable things about that case was the judge saying that the town cannot ban something they have had no issue with.  Officials admitted the ban was passed after the read an article about “pit bulls.”

We have seen repeated victories in court against Reynoldsburg, Ohio’s law, though they remain at the level of municipal court and are limited to people keeping their dogs and not challenging the law itself.

Aurora, Co:  Aurora became the second city to put a breed discriminatory law on the ballot and, though the ballot measure ultimately failed, we saw amazing success in messaging, as well as a stark reminder that many people are not even aware they are living under these laws.  A full analysis of the events can be found here: http://stopbsl.org/2014/11/06/aurora-colorado-the-good-the-bad-and-the-silver-lining/

2014 was a remarkable year for the rights of individuals and community safety.  More and more municipalities are seeing the failure of breed discriminatory laws and overturning them.  No doubt 2015 will be better.

It can be easy to lose sight of the larger picture when dealing with this fight day in and day out.  We hope that this post shows that the tide is, in fact, turning against breed discriminatory laws, and laws that target irresponsible and reckless owners are winning out.

If you know of a repeal, rejection or enactment that is not on this list, please let me know by e-mailing StopBSL.org@gmail.com.

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.

Columbus Nebraska to change dangerous dog laws

Columbus Nebraska is re-vamping their dangerous dog laws. The City Attorney requested the changes after a Platt County judge recently ruled that owners of dogs that are deemed dangerous do not receive proper due process under the current law.

As a response to this, officials are adding an appeals process that would give the owner 48 hours to file after the declaration that the dog is dangerous.  The appeal would be heard by a panel of 3 city council members.

Most of the discussion has been very positive, centering around making the law more constitutional and holding owners responsible for the actions of their dogs. However, one Councilman has mentioned singling out certain breeds.
“Instead of a harsher sentence for owners, City Council President Ron Schilling wants exemptions from the ordinance for family pets and smaller dogs. Schilling said he would like to see breed-specific wording in the ordinance since larger dogs can inflict a more serious injury.” Full article

The proposal is now available on the cities website and we are happy to say that there is no breed discriminatory language in the changes at all.  Instead the proposal focuses on the intent of the review, creating better due process for those whose dogs are deemed dangerous or potentially dangerous.

Prairie City Iowa is considering changes to dog ordinance in wake of fatal attack

April 23rd a young child succumb to injuries inflicted by her babysitters dog in Prairie City Iowa. What happened was a tragedy for all involved. There were many markers that show this to have been an avoidable tragedy, as the person who was responsible for the care of both the victim and the dog involved had been charged with several crimes in the past, including felony drug charges and neglect and abandonment of a minor.

Officials are now looking at how they can strengthen their dangerous dog laws as a response to this incident.

There is quite a bit left to be desired from the current dangerous dog laws.  While the responsibilities of owners are very clearly laid out, there is very little addressing dangerous, potentially dangerous or vicious dogs in the community. In fact there is only one classification, that of a dangerous animal, which is defined as

“any animal which meets any of the following conditions:

          A.     The animal has inflicted serious injury on any person, with or without the knowledge of the owner.

          B.     Any animal that attacks or bites a person or persons and such propensity is known or should reasonable be known to the owner.

          C.     Any animal that is infected with rabies.

          D.     Any animal that viciously attacks or kills a domestic animal.”

Inclusion of a potentially dangerous classification, with clear standards of behavior, would give greater control to officials in stopping situations before a tragedy. There should also be a better evaluation of the kinds of behaviors that are markers of a dangerous dog in the making.  The clarity of the current definitions leaves a lot to be desired.

Another area the law clearly needs some strengthening is in the violations section of the ordinance.  The violation section is two lines. “All violations of any provision of this chapter are hereby declared simple misdemeanors and municipal infractions.  Violations may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor criminal offense or a municipal infraction at the sole discretion of the Animal Control Officers.”

It is clear that Prairie City needs to address their laws to better protect the community from dangerous dogs. These changes must be clearly defined and easily enforceable, which tend to go hand in hand, to make an impact in the community.  An animal control ordinance is only effective if it is enforceable.

Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim.