Tag Archives: dangerous dog

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.

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

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

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


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.

Tennessee update

3/18/13 UPDATE

Citing massive backlash to the legislation the sponsor of this bill has officially withdrawn the legislation.

_____________________3/15/13 post below_____________________

This update comes via Pit Bull Awareness of Tennessee:

It seems like there is A LOT of misinformation going on around the proposed amendments to HB621 and SB865. There have been several releases of documents on various different sites which have conflicted information in them. Several sites have the proposed amendment showing no mention of pit bulls and several other sites show where it clearly states that pit bulls should be considered vicious… with that said, until the proposed amendment is entered by Rep Gilmore and is on the states site directly, we are in a wait and see situation until something concrete comes from the state itself.”

Read more here.

There are two different versions of this bill circulating.  Frankly both versions are concerning because of the language employed. In the one version available on the states website there is a section that reads “Any dog which because of its physical nature and vicious propensity is capable of causing serious bodily injury, as defined in this section, or death to humans or other animals and would constitute a danger to human life or property;” Full text of the bill to be found here.

This language is so vague as to be applicable to virtually any dog. One thing that dangerous dog laws need for enforcement is specificity, which this language does not have. There is no definition as to what a “vicious propensity” constitutes. This leaves any dog open to having people taken to court to fight a dangerous dog declaration because of the municipalities perceived idea of what the breed of dog may be or a perceived idea of what constitutes a vicious propensity.

The previously posted amendment says that a vicious dog will include dogs which “belongs to the breed that is commonly know as a pit bull dog. The ownership, keeping or harboring of such a breed of dog shall be prima-facie evidence of the ownership, keeping or harboring of a vicious dog.” 

We discussed the issues with this language here.

The status of this amendment as of right now is that it has been proposed as a change to the two bills that have been introduced to address vicious dogs in Tennessee. They must first go through several legislative steps in order to be passed.

We feel that from a public safety stand point not only should the proposed amendments be opposed, but also the language highlighted in the bills that is in the version on the states website should also be opposed.

HB 621 has been placed on the calendar for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee for March 20th. SB 865 has yet to be set for  a date.

Tennessee residents: Please reach out to express your concern about both the proposed amendment to these bills and the vagueness of the language of the bills as they stand now.  Just because a specific breed is not mentioned in the current versions, does not mean these bills would not impact owners in a breed specific way.

Contact information for the Agricultural and Natural Resource Subcommittee can be found here. You can find you respective legislators here.

Watertown Wisconsin considering breed specific restrictions

Watertown Wisconsin is considering creating an ordinance that would single out pit bull type dogs as dangerous by default.  City officials cite the increase in number of dog bites and attacks as the reason for the proposed changes. “Pit bulls” are said to be the primary culprits.

Data from the city tells a different story. In an article published by the Watertown Daily Times the data is shown but the whole story presented by the data is excluded.

There were 1,831 dogs registered with the city in 2012, according to the dog report completed by the police. The most popular dog in the city was the labrador retriever with 315 reported, followed by the shih tzu with 118, followed by the golden retriever with 113. There were 44 pit bulls registered in the city in 2012.

According to the report, 78 dog bites to humans were reported between Jan. 1, 2010 and Aug. of 2012. Pit bulls were involved in 19 percent of bites, mixed breed or others were involved in 18 percent, unknown breeds in 17 percent, labrador retrievers in 8 percent and cocker spaniels in 8 percent.

This data leaves out the number of unregistered dogs, which is usually the majority of dogs in a municipality. Also missing is whether the biting dogs were registered but most importantly is the context of the numbers.  19% of bites in this case is roughly 15 bites in a 17 month period, spanned over whatever various mixes of dogs were considered to be pit bulls. While any dog bite is unacceptable from a community safety standard, addressing a minority of bites with an ordinance will not reduce the real factors involved in dog bites.

If one type of dog were to be singled out the remaining 81% of bites would have virtually nothing done about them.

Residents and locals:  Reach out now to your officials to stress the importance of breed neutral as a better path to public safety. 100% of bites need to be addressed. A committee meeting will be held Wednesday Feb. 13th at 5:00 in room 2044 at Watertown City Hall, 106 Jones Street.  Please attend the meeting if at all possible, or you can contact you aldermen here.

Rhode Island Action Alert

Residents of Rhode Island, your quick action is needed.

A bill has been introduced that would create regulations for pit bull type dogs on the STATE level, much like the recently repealed Ohio law.

SB 178 would regulate the care and control of “pit bulls” including requirements for insurance, confinement and muzzling.

One of the more outrageous portions of this bill…

“(a) Signs Required. Every veterinary office, kennel, commercial breeder, commercial animal establishment, pet shop and dog grooming business must post a sign stating in English, the following:



The sign must be prominently displayed to the public and clearly legible.

(b) Penalties. Failure to post a sign as required by this section shall be a civil violation subject to a one hundred fifty dollar ($150) civil penalty. Every day a sign is not posted shall be a separate violation.

This bill has been referred to the Senate Environment & Agriculture Committee.

Rhode Island Residents:  Action on this must be quick and decisive. Reach out now to your legislators and have them stop this bill.  You can find your representatives here.