Tag Archives: ordinance

Salina, Kansas, family fights for their dogs

A single working mother in Salina, Kansas, is in trouble with the city after her two dogs got escaped the yard and were picked up by animal control.

Jo Ann Morgan has two dogs that officials claim fall under the breed ban that Salina maintains.  Morgan stated that she sees “pit bulls” everyday in the community and had been unaware of the ban until obtaining her first dog.

The first dog, Celeste, was obtained not knowing there was a ban in place.  When the family asked a friend about a good vet in town, they then became aware of the ban.  Soon after, the second dog, Maicee, came to the family because of the ban.  The dog was owned by a boyfriend and girlfriend who had domestic issues.  At one point the girlfriend had threatened to call animal control on the dog for being a banned type as revenge.  The dog was taken in by Morgan, in what was supposed to be a temporary situation.

The dogs escaped the yard when the gate to their yard was left open after a trash pick up.  It was not noticed the gate was left open until the next morning, when the dogs were let out as the family got ready for their day.  A few minutes after they got out, on the morning of October 23rd, Morgan discovered the yard was empty and immediately began looking for the dogs.

They were picked up by animal control in a nearby parking lot.  It was later discovered, on a lost pets page for the community, that someone had spotted the dogs and was urging people to pick them up before animal control got them.

After searching for sometime, Morgan contacted the shelter, where she was told the dogs cannot be released because they are banned and that she would be charged.  Morgan also told that if she signed over the rights to Celeste and Maicee to the shelter, the prosecutor would drop the charges for harboring dangerous dogs.  Salina law declares “pit bulls” dangerous by appearance only, so any person caught with a banned type is charged with harboring a dangerous dog.  Celeste and Maicee had not harmed anyone.  Morgan asked if the dogs would be killed if signed over and was told that is the case.  She refused to sign over the dogs and was given a summons for the possession of two dangerous dogs.

Celeste and Maicee are currently being held as evidence and there are multiple criminal charges against Morgan.  Though Morgan is seeking legal representation, it is an expensive proposition for a case of this nature.

Salina has a bad track record with their handling of these sorts of cases.  Few, if any, confiscated dogs make it out of the shelter alive.  There was the story of Lucey, from 2010, who was taken as a banned dog and released after a DNA test showed she was a pure through and through mixed breed.  Officials came back on that family, saying the DNA tests are not reliable after the vet responsible for breed identification, Dr. Atherton, got a DNA test on his own dog and didn’t like the results.

Dr. Atherton is notorious for bad identification practices, and has, in at least one case, identified a pure breed dog (not a banned breed) as banned because of the dog’s teeth structure.

Morgan would love to get Celeste and Maicee back home but the odds of that are extremely slim.  The best hope right now is for the dogs to be placed in rescue.  When asked about it, Morgan was told that they do not release “pit bulls” to residents of other towns because of the “legal liability” of doing so.

The council is not open to discussing the issue.  Morgan attended a meeting and was told she would need to make a formal paper petition of registered voters and file specific forms in order for the council to consider the issue.

At this time, there is a Christmas card campaign for Celeste and Maicee, as well as one other confiscated dog.  The families are asking for cards to be sent, individually, to Celeste Morgan, Maicee Morgan and Remi Phillips, care of Salina Animal Shelter, 329 North 2nd Street, Salina, KS, 67401.  The families are asking that the messages in the cards be ones of support only and not directed at shelter staff in anyway.  The idea behind the campaign is to subtly let people know that the dogs are cared about without engaging in any animosity or vitriol.

For those who want to help more, there is a fundraiser being held to cover legal fees.  The odds that there will be a fair trial in municipal court are slim.  Appeals are expensive and funds must be raised in order for there to be any chance of Celeste and Maicee being about to get out of the shelter alive.

Link to fundraiser: www.youcaring.com/other/don-t-let-salina-ks-murder-these-dogs/267665

Link to Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/Repeal-BSL-in-Salina-Kansas/548568511945846

Link to Twitter: twitter.com/RepealBSL

Moreauville, LA, passes breed ban: Demands all current dogs be removed

UPDATED INFORMATION HERE:  stopbsl.org/2014/11/24/moreauville-la-update-officials-pledge-to-suspend-enforcement-of-ban

On October 13th the small town of Moreauville, Louisiana, passed a ban on pit bull type dogs and Rottweilers.

The city has a little over 900 residents and no online presence.

Officials claim that they passed the ban at the request of  several residents.  These residents approached the council saying that they were unable to walk in certain neighborhoods because “these dogs were basically running along town.”  Alderman Penn Lemoine said the ordinance was enacted to “appease” these residents.

Officials say that there have been attacks but none have been documented.  This begs the question, what sort of animal control is in place, or was in place, before the ban?  Was it being enforced?  At the very least, it is clear that any laws that were in place were not being enforced.  We are attempting to get a copy of any pertinent legislation for review, but at this time, it is unclear if there are any laws on the books, or if there is an animal control agent tasked with enforcement.

The law does not have a grandfather clause.  This means that every single dog that matches the targeted type is at risk of being confiscated and killed.  A letter was sent out to residents saying that they must get rid of their dogs by December 1st or they will be confiscated and taken to a “veterinary clinic for further disposition.”

letter to remove dogs moreauville la

According to a local report, when the police chief was asked what would happen if dogs are not turned over voluntarily, the resident questioning the chief was told that, “They would come and get the dog and the dog would be disposed of and we would be fined.”

When pressed to clarify what “disposition” meant, Alderman Penn Lemoine refused, saying, “I’d rather not elaborate on that.”  Apparently, city officials are fine with passing a law that takes away and kills people’s dogs because of the way they look, but they are not comfortable talking about it publicly.

Something the Pro-BSL lobby claims all the time is that a ban doesn’t mean that dogs are taken away from their homes and killed.  They claim that these are scare tactics used by “pit bull advocates.”  They claim that all current owned dogs are allowed to live out the rest of their lives under a ban and that it is just new dogs that are not allowed.  We know from many places that this is not true, and this letter to owners of pit bulls and Rottweilers is just more evidence of that.  We at StopBSL would like a statement from BSL proponents, clarifying what exactly they mean, in the face of this evidence, that it is only a “scare tactic.”

Families with targeted dogs are seeking support to be able to keep their dogs.  There is a question as to the legality of taking property that was obtained legally at the time of the legislations passage (in this case dogs are considered property) and “disposing” of it.  There are also questions about the legality of the ordinance in general.  Preliminary review from experts in the field of dangerous dog law  point to numerous constitutional and due process issues in the ban.

Officials are claiming that if there is enough of an outcry, they might revisit the issue on the December 8th meeting.  This is completely insufficient.  The deadline for the targeted dogs is a week before the next meeting.

RESIDENTS AND LOCALS:  It is incredibly important that members of the council hear your voices.  The passage of the ban was kept relatively quiet until now.  It is important that people are heard but all communication must be professional, respectful and factual.  We know this is an emotional issue, but anger and vitriol achieves nothing except to alienate officials in a time when people need their voices to be heard the most.  Offer alternatives, such as containment laws and point out the many failures of breed discriminatory laws.

Fosters are being lined up so that the targeted dogs can have a safe place to go, if needed, while this issue is resolved.  If you are local and outside the city limits of Moreauville, and can foster, please send a message to www.facebook.com/RepealBSLMoreauville.

Two Arkansas towns reject calls for breed discriminatory laws

This week 2 Arkansas towns that were considering breed discriminatory laws have officially rejected BDL in favor of breed neutral laws.

MONTICELLO:  After a long period of discussion, officials in Monticello Arkansas enacted a breed neutral ordinance.

Back in 2012, the council was approached by the head of the Humane Society of Southeast Arkansas, asking for a ban or regulations on pit bulls.  The issue came forward and was tabled several times, while drafts were constructed and the current ordinances examined.

This Thursday officials passed a breed neutral ordinance unanimously.

The new ordinance has 2 classifications, one for vicious dogs which are defined as “any dog which had a disposition to bite humans, and any dog which had has bitten, or attempted to bite, any person within the past 12 months” and one for dangerous dogs, which are defined as having bitten, or attempted to bite, any person once it has already been labeled as a vicious dog.

Also included are some heavy fines for various violations.

Not only does the ordinance address dangerous dogs, it also addresses a variety of husbandry issues that would point to neglect, making it easier for officials to address situations of neglect in the community.

The ordinance addresses cleanliness issues and reads that, “It shall be unlawful to allow premises where any dog is kept to become unclean and a threat to the public’s health by failing to diligently and systematically remove all animal waste from the premises.”

It is now illegal for any person keeping a dog to fail to keep the area housing the dog clean, dry and sanitary. It is also now illegal for dog owners not provide protection against weather extremes as well as failing to keep fresh water available for the dog.

SPRINGDALE:  In 2013 a member of the council requested a ban after an attack he attributed to a “pit bull.”

The Mayor asked for public input and the result is an ordinance that not only is breed neutral, but one that goes out of its way to specify that dogs cannot be declared dangerous based on their breed.  In the definitions of the proposal it clearly states that breed is not a factor in considering the dangerousness of a dog.

“Potentially dangerous animal means, regardless of breed,
1) any dog or other animal that has shown a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack without provocation and is able or likely to inflict injury to another person or animal; or
2) without justification, behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses an unjustified imminent threat of serious injury or death; or
3) without provocation, chases, confronts. or threatens to attack a person or domestic animal: or
4) approaches a person or domestic animal on a street, sidewalk or public or private property in a menacing fashion such as would put a reasonable person in fear of attack.”

“Vicious dog or vicious animal means, regardless of breed, any dog or other animal that has bitten or attempted to bite any person, or caused serious injury to another domestic animal or livestock without provocation and is able or likely to inflict injury to another person.”

This is a draft only at this stage, and officials may still make some changes, but the issue of breed discrimination appears to have been put to rest.

Congratulations, Springdale and Monticello officials and residents.   Through thoughtful work on these ordinances, both communities will become safer and more humane for everyone.

Columbia South Carolina Councilman wants breed discriminatory law

An official on the Columbia South Carolina city council is discussing a “bully breed” ordinance.

Though there are no details yet on exactly what the ordinance may encompass and what specific breeds the councilman would like to target, there are certain things that have been said in the media about the potential intent and direction of the idea.

The justifications for this bear a close examination, as they are ones that appear time and time again.

The first justification is that there is an over population issue in shelters.  Columbia is looking into becoming a no-kill community and officials claim that bully breeds are crowding the shelters.

Based on the reports, we can see that this is clearly not the case.  The shelter reports that only 7% of the animals they euthanize are “pit bulls.”  This is a remarkably low number considering the broad classification and the numerous dogs that are typically labeled as pit bulls by shelter staff.  Currently the shelter euthanize about 11,000 animals a year.

Striving to be a no kill community is an admirable goal, but an ordinance targeting 7% leaves the remaining 93% of shelter euthanasia unaddressed.  That is over 10,000 animals being killed.

What does work for communities to become no kill is not to focus on the killing, but to focus on positive outcomes for the animals that are taken in.

Another issue with this thinking is that no kill and breed discriminatory laws cannot co-exist.  Breed discriminatory laws make targeted dogs much more difficult to adopt out.  Increasing the stigma behind certain dogs decreases adoptions, resulting in higher percentages of killing.  The 7% will quickly build under a breed discriminatory law.

The second justification is one of what is called red lining.  Initially coined to describe the practice of banks literally drawing a red line around certain neighborhoods and denying services to those neighborhoods, the term has now come to encompass both denial of services and targeting what are perceived to be communities of lower social standing.  This is not an uncommon justification in breed discriminatory laws.  When we see reference to the laws being used to target drug dealers or dog fighters, the theory of red lining is being used.  The idea is that only certain “elements” of the population have targeted dogs, and therefore creating a law gives authorities the ability to target people without sufficient probable cause.

There is an element of this is the Columbia officials thinking.  Multiple reports reference dog fighting.

“Pitbull fighting is a multi-million dollar business,” said a representative of Columbia Animal Services. “It’s very secretive to catch them. It is almost impossible.”

The Columbia Police Department said there have not been any recent reports of dog fighting within city limits.

The only element of the proposal that has been clearly outlined is differential licensing fees for an unaltered targeted dog.  Currently fees are $25 for an un-altered dog.  The councilman would like to increase that amount.

So far word from some on the council that have responded to concerned residents is leaning in a positive direction.  We are hearing that thus far there is no plan to discuss this by the full council and that this is one council member who is pushing for it.   Some on the council didn’t even hear about this through the council, but rather through the new paper.

Because this is in the conversation stage at this point, and has not officially been brought to the council, now is the best time for residents to become involved.

COUNCIL MEMBERS:

Sam Davis, District 1 – sdavis@columbiasc.net
Tameika Isaac Devine , at large –  e-mail: tidevine@columbiasc.net
Leona K. Plaugh, District 4-  e-mail: lkplaugh@columbiasc.net
Brian DeQuincey Newman, District 2 – e-mail: bdnewman@columbiasc.net
Cameron Runyan, At-Large – email: carunyan@columbiasc.net
Moe Baddourah, District 3 – email: mobaddourah@columbiasc.net

Waterloo Iowa officials are discussing breed based restrictions

Officials in Waterloo Iowa are discussing drafting an ordinance that would target pit bulls.

This follows an attack in which two people were injured.  Three dogs were loose and unsupervised when the attack occurred on a public street. An older woman, 65, and a 13-year-old boy were injured in the attack.

According to the reports one dog was shot.  This dog is identified by officials as a pit bull.  The two other dogs were captured and are being held.  One is reported to be a Boston Terrier mix, the other is also reported as a pit bull.  The owner of the two dogs in the custody of animal control has been found.  The dog that was shot was a known stray in the area, though officials are attempting to find an owner.

The female victim and her husband have stated publicly that they do not blame the breed of the dog, but rather the way the dogs were being managed, or in the case of the stray, not managed, in the community.  A suggestion of stiffer penalties for attacks was made by the victims husband.

Loose dogs and strays are nothing new for Waterloo.  Reports of loose dogs in the community, as well as attacks by loose dogs, can be found going several years back.  The most commonly reported incidents are related to unsupervised dogs.

The Mayor has been quoted saying that the draft will be a “very restrictive ordinance for pit bulls.”  At this time there is no clarification as to any aspects of the ordinance because it is in the discussion phase.  There have been no statements made by officials to indicate which direction they may be leaning. The only details that have been discussed publicly are micro-chipping and a special registration.

The Mayor went out of his way to mention that there are some places that ban pit bulls.  This seems to be a common tactic used to soften suggested restrictions.  Another communities implementation of a ban does not lessen the amount of money that will be wasted in Waterloo with a breed discriminatory law. It does not lessen the fact that responsible owners are the only ones penalized by these laws, or that they inevitably end up failing in their primary objective, public safety.  The lesser of two evils is still evil.  Yes, some places ban pit bulls.  However, more than 90% of municipalities in the US have no breed discriminatory restrictions at all.

The agenda for the work session is titled “Potential New Ordinance Pertaining to Pit Bulls.”

Residents and locals: It is important that you reach out now with effective alternatives to breed discriminatory laws.  You can also use Best Friends Animal Society’s fiscal calculator to show how much an ordinance like this would cost the city and the tax payers. You can find this at http://bestfriends.guerrillaeconomics.net/

Council contact information: CouncilmanHart@mediacombb.net, david.jones.ward1@gmail.com, Carolyn.cole@vgm.com, harcarge@aol.com, rjgrx@aol.com, sschmitt@schmitthouse.com

Councilman Ron Welper does not have an available e-mail address. You may reach him via the City Clerk by including a request for the correspondence to be forwarded to him.  City Clerk: suzy.schares@waterloo-ia.org

Alert for Woonsocket Rhode Island

A few months ago Woonsocket Rhode Island started discussions about a possible “pit bull” ordinance. The ordinance proposed in Woonsocket was copied directly, word for word, from Pawtucket’s breed discriminatory ordinance. The officials who submitted the ordinance even forgot to edit out Pawtucket’s name and substitute their own. After significant community backlash officials had tabled the ordinance to get more feedback and research possible alternatives.

This has been added to the agenda for the March 4th meeting.  There has been no breed neutral ordinance submitted, so we must go off the assumption that they are trying to proceed with the breed specific ordinance.

Woonsocket residents and locals: It would appear that officials are attempting to sneak past their constituents to try to pass a breed specific ordinance with as little opposition as possible. Officials had promised to work with local advocates to create a breed neutral ordinance but have not done so. Please reach out now and oppose any breed specific measures politely and professionally.

Meetings take place at the Woonsocket City Hall, second floor 169 Main St Woonsocket, RI 02895 and begin at 7PM. The phone number for the town hall secretary is (401) 762-6400.

Contact information for the council:

John F. Ward, CPA
President: (401) 766-8743
Daniel M. Gendron
Vice President: (401) 769-4458
Roger Jalette: (401) 597-5790
Christopher Beauchamp: (401) 356-4940
Robert Moreau: (401) 766-3608
Albert Brien: (401) 766-3416
Marc Dubois: (401) 765-7675

Aberdeen SD – Council Looks To Re-Open Discussions On Breed Bans

In March of 2011 StopBSL reported Aberdeen Council passed a breed-neutral ordinance after six-amendments were offered, including two that would have made the ordinance breed-specific.  The approved ordinance restricts dangerous dogs, but rather than by breed, individual dogs earn the title based on their behavior.

In October of the same year, discussion again leaned heavily toward amending the new ordinance to ‘scrutinize’ specific breeds more than others.
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