Tag Archives: repeal

Moreauville, LA repeals breed ban; Implements state law

After a dramatic couple of weeks, the Moreauville, LA, board voted, on December 1st, to unanimously repeal the recently passed breed ban that targeted “pit bulls” and Rottweilers.

At this meeting, the entire dangerous dog ordinance was repealed, not just the breed based portion.  The only thing that remained at the time was the leash law that had been passed around 20 years ago.

On December 8th, the board voted to implement Louisiana state dangerous dog law.  This law is completely breed neutral and focuses on the actions of the dog and owner.

The ban was passed at the request of several residents.  It was not a consideration of the board until the request was made.  There were multiple incidents with dogs menacing residents, and they finally reached their breaking point.

I spoke to Mayor Timmy Lemoine about several incidents.  One resident has their dog chained along the recently built pavilion and play ground area.  Families hold birthday parties and gatherings there.  Despite there being room on the property for the dog to not be in direct contact with that particular section, that is where the dog was chained.  Chained dogs are often frustrated and act out, and this dog is no different.  Several complaints had been made from residents fearing the chain would break.  Officials attempted to speak to the dog owner, asking that the chain spot be moved back away from the common area, and were met with an extremely hostile response.  It went so far that residents stopped using the public area out of fear of this particular dog.

Another issue is a dog that is used intentionally to menace others.  We are told a man would sit with his dog on the front porch of his house, near the sidewalk and tell his dog to “Sic ‘em” as people passed.

Mayor Lemoine had concerns about the way some dogs are being housed.  There are dogs that are chained all day in the Louisiana summer heat, with no shelter and minimal resources.  “A dog out on a chain like that all day goes crazy.  Anyone would,” said Lemoine.

He stated that it was the intention of the board that confiscated dogs be held at a local veterinary clinic while the owners arranged for housing elsewhere or elected to have the dogs put down.  The thought seemed to be that the dogs would be housed in a better place and cared for.  “It isn’t humane the way these dogs are being kept…I don’t see how that is humane out on a chain like that all the time.”

The ordinance was copied from a neighboring town and, as such, the language and use of the word “disposition” was left open to interpretation.  Mayor Lemoine said that the implications of the wording were not considered in depth in the passage of the ban and understands why it was interpreted the way it was.

It was the understanding of officials that the ordinance, as written, was constitutional.  They were advised by the town attorney that this was the case because it had not been challenged in the municipality it originated from.

October 13th, the board voted to pass the ban.  Mayor Lemoine said that they felt stuck.  They had been asked to do this by their constituents and did not realize the implications of the law.

Having been advised by the attorney that it was ok and having heard from officials in the town the ban originated from that it was “working” made it seem like a ban would be the cleanest solution to their problems.  “I know the owners are the problem here, but we can’t ban the owners so it seemed like we could do something by banning the dogs,” said Lemoine in an interview with us.  “We were stuck between a rock and a hard place.  It is an election year and they (the residents) made it clear this was what they wanted and if we didn’t do it they wouldn’t vote for us…”

Officials did not expect the ban to garner the attention it did.  The story was featured internationally, created a circus of half-truths and opened the door to opportunism and fraud. Much of this attention can be traced to the images of Ohara Owens and Zeus.  The media zeroed in on this aspect of the story because of the health problems of the young woman.  They took the story and ran with it, taking the statement that the dog was “like a therapy dog” and turning it into Zeus actually being a therapy dog.  Fundraisers were started by uninvolved parties, as well as involved parties for personal expenses, unrelated to this issue.

Mayor Lemoine addressed the issue of Zeus in our conversation.  He stated that he contacted a reporter at KALB about the issue.  “Zeus was never at risk…I received an e-mail from (the family) saying he was an American Bulldog…I told them to throw out the letter…he was safe…Zeus wasn’t a problem.  He was in the house and never caused any issues…I didn’t want to talk to (the family) directly because anything I said could be used against me.”

Mayor Lemoine had to disable social media messengers because of threats.  We have said this before, will say it again and will likely have to repeat it in the future.  Threats of any kind are inappropriate, counter productive and absolutely unwarranted no matter what the circumstances.

In speaking to Mayor Lemoine, several things become clear.  This was a case of a lack of adequate research and wanting to act quickly on the request of residents.  The intentions of the board were good ones.  The behavior of the problem dog owners is abhorrent.  At the risk of editorializing, if there is blame to be placed for the passage of this ban, that blame would rest squarely on the shoulders of those who are mismanaging their dogs and creating issues in Moreauville.

It is clear that both Mayor Lemoine and the board care deeply about their community.  “We are a nice little town and we don’t want people to have to fear,” said Lemoine.

People readily ascribe negative intentions to officials who pass these laws but most often the intentions are not bad ones but more poorly thought out in the rush to act.

It is easy to get lost in emotion and vitriol when dealing with matters of breed discriminatory laws.  We cannot allow ourselves to get wrapped up in half-truths and rhetoric.  We have to be open to honest dialogue about the needs of the community at large and build bridges with officials on all levels.  Nothing is gained in threats and hatred and indeed we have more to lose by indulging in these paths.  We cannot expect everyone to understand how breed based laws affect the community without a thorough and thoughtful conversation.

For the most part intentions are good, though efforts misplaced and effects misunderstood.  Mistakes are made.  We must move past these mistakes and offer our help and expertise to officials who find themselves in the difficult position of having to draft a law they have no experience with.

The simple solution is not always the most effective, but it is the most attractive.  Lets offer help in place of hate, and build bridges to safer and more humane communities.

Enumclaw, WA, keeps breed ban in place

At last nights meeting in Enumclaw, Washington, officials voted to keep the current breed ban in place.

The meeting drew a great number of commenters, some from both sides of the issue, but as we have seen before, the commenters for repealing the ban, out weighed those for keeping.  There was a small contingent to keep the ban, led by a woman whose child had been attacked by a dog she identified as a “pit bull.”  Public comment lasted for over an hour.

The vote to keep the law in place was unanimous.  This is interesting considering the vote to repeal was nearly unanimous as well, with only one dissenting vote.  The official recommendation per city documentation, was to repeal the existing ban.

There is some speculation that officials did not want to act to repeal with the emotional pressure present.

Though the repeal failed to pass the second reading, officials have said that this is not the end of the discussion.  Replacing the ban with restrictions is one idea that is being looked at as well as increasing penalties for those who have dogs that attack.

The ordinance that was for discussion, not only repealed the existing ban.  It also would have strengthened the rest of the dangerous dog laws, to better protect the community from negligent owners who fail to exercise proper care and control over their dogs.  A companion to the repeal would have adopted the county animal control law, which has been updated far more recently then the cities law.

King County provides animal control for the city, and having laws that are the same is extremely important for the proper enforcement of those laws.  Disparity breeds confusion for both residents and those working in official capacity, for the county.

It is unfortunate that officials failed to provide equal recourse for all victims of dog attacks and has failed to act in a manner that would have made for more effective enforcement of Animal Control within the city.

Enumclaw, Washington, considers repeal of breed ban

A change to the Enumclaw, WA, ordinance that bans “pit bulls” is working its way through the city council.

The first vote of the repeal was passed on September 22nd, with only one dissenting vote.  The second and final reading of the repeal is set to be heard on October 13th.

The current ordinance defines “pit bull” as “any dog over the age of six months known by the owner to be a Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bull Terrier shall mean any Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier so as to be identifiable as partially of the breed Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier.

Again, we see the use of the “as an element of its breeding” in the ordinance, which has been successfully challenged in court several times.  Because the implication is that even a dog with 1% of the listed breeds is banned, there is a question as to whether, rationally, a dog with 1% of anything could contain the supposed “inherent” behaviors of that breed.

City administrator Chris Searcy stated that the city repeatedly receives requests from residents to repeal the law, showing support for the repeal, specific to residents.

Residents and locals are encouraged to attend the meeting, to show support for the repeal.  If you cannot attend this meeting, you can contact the city council to politely and factually support the repeal of the current breed ban, by finding your council members information on the cities website.

Aurora Colorado repeal needs help now

A potential repeal of Aurora Colorado’s breed ban has been moved onto the next step by the council.

The repeal, which is backed by Renie Peterson, passed the first step in the process, when it was sent to study by the cities Public Safety committee.  The committee meets in order to hear proposals and hear feed back from areas of government that the proposal concerns.

The agenda was changed so that BSL was first in line. Because of protocol, Animal Care and Control were the only people allowed to present. We were disappointed in both their support of continuing the law, and using Dogsbite, a hysteria based website, as “proof” of the dangers of dogs who have a certain appearance. We’re going to hope they are able to develop partnerships that nurture the “care” part of their mission. A second source was Kory Nelson. A Denver City Attorney, who fought like tooth and nail to keep BSL in Denver, and continues to champion it as a great law…”

In arguing for keeping the breed ban, the local animal care and control department claimed that HSUS held them up as a model community for their dangerous dogs laws.  HSUS has responded to this claim, in a letter to the city council (full letter available here).

“We also understand there has been some confusion about The HSUS’ endorsement of Aurora’s dog policies. The HSUS supports strong, comprehensive laws regarding the management of vicious or dangerous dogs, contingent upon there being no breed-specific components of said law. In a recent council meeting, a speaker claimed that HSUS cited Aurora as “model” legislation, and in 2004 we did—prior to the introduction of breed-specific policy in Aurora. The HSUS does not support or commend Aurora for their current dog laws. Instead we encourage your community to forge a new path to promote public safety and support dog owning families.”

At least one member of the committee who had initially shown some support for a repeal had begun to back track a little bit in her support, stating that she would support a repeal of the ban for restrictions instead.

One other council member, who has not made a commitment either way, specifically called out the credibility of ACC’s source of information and stated he wanted information from unbiased sources.  This information is being gathered and provided to the full council.

“In arguing for keeping BSL, Cheryl Conway of Aurora ACC argued that people who complain about the law are not from Aurora, nor even from Colorado. We’re going to ask you to help prove them wrong on that by a letter writing campaign.”

AURORA COLORADO RESIDENTS AND RESIDENTS ONLY:

The time has come to make your voices heard!

Begin reaching out and expressing support for a repeal.  One of the comments made by an official is that they don’t think residents support a repeal.  Considering that pro-BDL groups from not only out of the city, but also out of the state and out of the country, have been contacting the council, this is an ironic point.

“…what we do see, what we know, are that groups like dogsbite are lobbying hard in our community to control local issues and laws. They are hitting it hard, and will remain relentless until the end. So it’s our job, your job, Coloradans jobs, to shut them down. These are our cities and communities, our neighbors and our representatives.  It is our voice, local voices that deserve to be heard, and determine the outcome of local issues.

Residents should reach out with a simple expression of support.  The shorter the better, as we know that at least one council member has stopped reading the e-mails and is looking only at the subject lines.

The council can be reached at citycouncil@auroragov.org.

The subject line should read in support of the repeal.  This should be straight to the point.  Something along the lines of “Repeal breed ban”  or “Please support breed ban repeal” so that it is easily seen what the topic is.

A lot of studies and data have been presented to the council already, so at this time all that is needed is expressions of support for the repeal.

Again, a simple message will do.

“To whom it may concern,

As a resident of Aurora in Ward # X (ward number can be found on the cities website) I support the repeal of the “pit bull” ban and urge the council to support a repeal of the ban as well.

(Your name)”

Or:

My name is…

I am a resident of Aurora. I support repeal of BSL and replacing it with breed neutral laws that hold owners accountable.

Regards;
(your name)”

Make sure to include your ward number or address, any information that will identify you as a resident of Aurora.  This is incredibly important and cannot be stressed enough.

These correspondence are being counted, and members are claiming they are receiving a flood of e-mails urging them to keep the ban.

Another thing residents can do is to attend their wards meetings.  There is a schedule available here, of which wards are having meetings, the date and times.  This will give residents a chance to speak directly about the issue, show an in person presence and be heard, as well as giving you, the resident, a more active role in what is happening in your community.

The study session is set for March 3rd at 5pm.  Every single person who supports a repeal is being urged to attend this meeting.  There will be no public comment at this meeting but a large presence will make an impact.  The meeting will take place at the Aurora City Hall-Council Chambers, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway, Aurora, Colorado, 80012.

Information in italics has been reprinted with permission from ColoRADogs.

Bradford PA comes into compliance with state law

For years Pennsylvania has had a state law that prohibits breed discrimination in any form.

When this law was enacted, there were no grandfather clauses allowed, and all places with breed discriminatory laws had to repeal their existing ordinances as they were voided by state law.

Some places seem to never have been made aware of the state law, as we saw with Bessemer PA last year, and now Bradford PA this year.

According to officials, they were questioned about the legality of the existence of their ordinance targeting “pit bulls” as dangerous.  The declaration of being dangerous meant that, in Bradford, dogs deemed to be pit bulls were banned, as dangerous dogs were not allowed in the city.

After an investigation, they were told that state law does in fact invalidate the ordinance, and they moved to officially remove the old ordinance from the books.

Tuesday, January 28th, the council met and repealed the old breed discriminatory law.  This was done without ceremony, and with out opposition, during a meeting where many different items of business were discussed.

Though there are some who list ordinances in PA as being valid, it is shown repeatedly that this is not the case.  Pennsylvania doe not allow breed discrimination by municipalities at all.  

Not only that but PA also takes things a step farther, being one of 2 states in the US that do not allow insurance companies to refuse or cancel coverage based on the breed of dog of the insured.

Waterloo Wisconsin repeals breed discriminatory restrictions

In 2013 Waterloo Wisconsin officials were discussing the possibility of repealing their breed restrictions.

Enacted in 1996, the ordinance targeted  “(1)The pit bull terrier breed of dog. (2) The Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog. (3) The American pit bull terrier breed of dog. (4) The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog. (5) Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than listed under Subsections (1) to (4) above whose breed or mixed breed is commonly known as “pit bull,” “pit bull dog” or “pit bull terrier.”

These dogs and their mixes were considered to be vicious by default.  Dogs that were targeted had to be muzzled, on a leash of a certain length, confined to the specifications of the ordinance, both inside and outside the house, targeted dogs are not allowed to live in multi-dwelling housing and signs must be posted.  These rules apply to dogs that have been declared vicious by their behaviors, as well as those who are determined to be a targeted breed.

In 2013 Watertown, WI, looked into a breed discriminatory law and rejected the idea after a lengthy debate.  The proposal there was a mirror of Waterloo’s ordinance.  This rejection was used to galvanize support in the area against breed discriminatory laws, as well as highlighting and supporting the failure of such a law.

Alderwoman Laura Cotting suggested removing the breed discriminatory language at the October 3rd meeting of the Health and Safety Committee.

At their last meeting, officials acted on this suggestion by removing all breed based language from the dangerous dog ordinance.

We have been able to get some information about what happened there behind the scenes.

The issue first came up when a bike trail between Waterloo and Watertown was approved to be installed by the State.  A group of dog carting and sledding enthusiasts who hold events in the area decided, based on several factors, that this trail would be a great place to promote dog carting events, but because of the existing breed discriminatory law in Waterloo, participants would not be able to cross the city line without stopping to muzzle some of the participating dogs.   This raised some questions for competitions, as well as the legalities behind dogs that may not be residing in Waterloo, and whether the law would affect them.  Included in the participating dogs that were restricted are therapy dogs working in the surrounding areas.

The city was contacted by community members who were concerned about the effect the breed discriminatory law would have on such events and the city at large.

After the city was contacted, a committee was formed to investigate the issue, look at the existing law, make recommendations and draft changes to the existing law.  Three public Safety Committee meetings were held.  The public was invited to participate in all meetings.  After the changes were drafted, there was a public hearing on the new language in the ordinance.   Between 10 and 15 people attended the hearing.   There were some differences of opinion on aspects of the changes officials were making to strengthen the revised breed neutral law, such as leash requirements and licensing issues, but all the residents agreed that breed neutral was the way the city should go.

Only one person spoke in support of the existing breed discriminatory language.  This person was not known to the community members.  When it became clear that the idea of keeping the existing breed discriminatory language was not supported by any member of the community or council, we are told that the individual that was there supporting it became frustrated.  This person had, at one point, attempted to get some personal information of the people who suggested the repeal, but the members of the community refused to disclose any of that information.

There was only one dissenting vote to the changes.

Congratulations to the city of Waterloo, Wisconsin, for supporting safe and humane communities, and wanting to address the real causes of dangerous dogs, reckless and negligent owners.

Chesterfield, MO – Repeals Pit Bull Legislation

***UDATE***

Chesterfield, Missouri! Bill No. 2909, which amends the “Dangerous Animals” ordinance to REMOVE all the breed specific language was APPROVED at the second reading on December 3rd, 2012!

Way to go Chesterfield!

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Chesterfield, Missouri Council members will meet at 7:00 PM tonight, Monday, December 3rd to move forward with removal of the cities current breed specific legislation REPEAL.

If you are in the area, please attend the meeting in effort to show your support of this action.

For more information….