Councilman Glen Green has been talking about a push to increase restrictions on dogs deemed to be pit bulls since a horrific attack on a constituent and friend earlier this year. He plans to bring these regulations to the City Council on Monday.
The changes to the law, should they pass, would ban any dog deemed to be a “pit bull” that is not registered in the city. Those that are registered would be subject to a list of requirements. Owners would have to be older than 21, unless the dog is being used as a service dog, dogs must be muzzled in public, spayed or neutered and microchipped and the owner must have a homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance of at least $100,000. It is interesting that Councilman Green has thought about the service dog issue but not surprising that he would not understand the breadth of the hardship such regulations would impose on a person with disabilities.
Unlicensed animals would be killed if the owner fails to remove the dog from the city immediately and the owners fined $500.
The dogs would be DNA tested to determine if they fall under the restrictions but there is no clarification at this time as to what breeds are going to be included. Officials say 50% would be considered restricted. Also not specified is what kind of DNA test is acceptable, since saliva is notoriously unreliable and even blood tests do not meet the standards to be admissible in court.
Councilman Green apparently is well aware that this law would be extremely expensive but according to a recent interview he plans on paying for it out of his discretionary fund. An important question is what happens when the Council either no longer has the funds to pay for it, or is no longer willing to take that money out of the fund? What happens when that fund is needed for more pressing matters than targeting dogs based on appearance? No doubt they have not thought that far ahead and in the end the tax payers will bear the burden of enforcing a law that Councilman Green wants to be strictly enforced.
Councilman Green acknowledges that the dogs themselves are not the problem. He stated that “The rationale is to control the pet owners, not so much the pets … We’ve got to do something to get their attention.”
What he does not seem to realize, though, is that he is doing exactly the opposite of what he intends. The things that he plans on introducing are targeting the dog, not the owner, and will not help to increase public safety.
Westwego residents and locals: Please reach out to the members of the Westwego City Council and if at all possible attend the meetings to voice opposition to breed discrimination. It is important to remember that the attack that happened was a terrible tragedy. Emotions are bound to run high, but nothing is ever accomplished by reacting emotionally. Be factual and respectful in all correspondence. Offer strong breed neutral alternatives that would target problem owners instead of dogs. You can find alternatives to breed discrimination here. The Council is not interested in how much people love their dogs, they are interested in real effective ways to help make the community safer. Though the methods they are choosing are not the solution, their hearts are in the right place.
Councilman Glen Green: email@example.com
Councilman Ted Munch: TedMunch@cityofwestwego.com
Councilman Ivy Rogers: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilman Melvin Guidry: email@example.com
Councilman Larry Warino: LWarino4westwego@aol.com