The first step has been made to challenge Clay Alabama’s recently passed breed ban in court.
A motion for preliminary injunction has been filed to stop the enforcement of the ban. Resident’s have until August 3rd to register their dogs. This would mark the beginning of enforcement of the ban.
The complaint alleges that the ban was passed in violation of Alabama’s open meeting laws. Under that law, officials must give interested parties a certain amount of time to be able to participate in the process. Since the ordinance was brought forward and passed in one meeting, and was drafted sometime in the 5 days between the spurring incident and the ordinances passage, it appears that this is a direct violation of that law.
Other allegations are that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is violated regarding due process, a deprivation of property, use and enjoyment of said property for several different reasons and a violation of the 5th and 6th Amendments to the Constitution for several reasons. The irrebuttable presumption portion of the ordinance, discussed below, being one of them. Overall the complaint is well worth the read. The details of the complaint are extremely comprehensive.
Efforts to raise funds were focused on the date of registration in the hopes that enough money could be raised to prevent residents from having to register their dogs. The issue is difficult because once a person registers their dog there is then a irrebuttable presumption that the dog is a “pit bull” regardless of whether or not the dog actually is. Once the dog is registered, residents would not be able to contest the designation in the future, say if they get a DNA test or other evidence comes up that shows that dog is not a pit bull.
Municipal breed discriminatory laws have never been challenged in Alabama. The timing of the injunction is very apt, coming on the heels of a recommendation from the City Attorney to change the law to be breed neutral. There has been no action so far to do so. Only talk, and some residents have talked about opposition from certain officials to going breed neutral. The Mayor has said that he wants to expand the law to include more breeds but not all breeds. He mentions “11 breeds” restricted by insurance companies in a recent article.
In a separate article the Council cites a lack of legal challenge to Center Point Alabama’s ordinance. “The council made mention of Center Point’s ordinance, a five-year old ordinance that bans pit bulls, and that city not having legal issues with residents in that time.”
The Council will now learn the hard way how expensive it can be to violate people’s rights. Hopefully, they will do the right thing to avoid litigation and repeal the ban.
You can view the filing papers for the Clay Alabama injunction here.
If anyone would like to contribute to the legal fund there is a fundraiser here.