Officials in Greybull Wyoming are discussing the possibility of enacting a law that would restrict “pit bulls.”
The proposal targets “any American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or any dog which as the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly in any one or more of the aforementioned breeds.”
Greybull has not has any incidents by dogs labeled as pit bulls. The council admits as much, but are citing personal fears as the reason for the proposal. One Councilman says that it is needed because, “We have some very scary pit bulls out there.” He cites that the community has a justification for a ban because other communities have done the same. Another councilman stated that, “There’s a reason they are banning them all around the United States. Towns and cities aren’t banning other breeds; they’re only banning pit bulls.”
Councilman Collingwood stated that the proposal doesn’t go far enough, that more “vicious breeds” should be added.
The thinking of the council is directly against the recent trends in dangerous dog laws. More and more communities are rejecting and repealing breed discriminatory laws than enacting. It is worth noting that roughly 96% of municipalities in the United States do not regulate dogs based on their appearance, and instead target reckless owners with strong breed neutral fine structures and nuanced designations for dogs that are not being properly managed in the community.
Not only that but there are many different breeds that are targeted by breed discriminatory laws all over the United States. These other breeds are likely what Councilman Collingwood has in mind.
It is also worth noting that there is one community in Wyoming that we have confirmed as having a breed discriminatory law. Even adjusting for the inability to know every single ordinance in the state, the amount of places in Wyoming with these laws are null compared to the numbers of communities that have chosen to institute more effective breed neutral laws.
The restrictions being sought include confinement requirements inside and outside the house, leash length requirements, muzzling, special registration and photographs on file with the local authorities and a $250,000 insurance policy.
The thinking of the members of the council seem to be born out of hysteria. The only council member who cast the dissenting vote expressed this same sentiment, saying the ordinance was a knee jerk reaction. Councilman Bob McGuire stated that they have laws on the books and he does not see any justification for changing them leery of changing them.
This is an astute observation but exactly are they are reacting to? There have been no incidents, and the only statistics they have are the number of registered “pit bulls” in the community increasing. Considering that according to Vetstreet and Banfield Pet Hospitals, pit bull type dogs are one of the most popular dogs in American households, this is far from extraordinary.
It is very likely that officials have not thought about how much such an ordinance is going to cost the community, nor the legal issues this opens up for them. They have also most likely not investigated the massive failure of these laws to reduce the number of dog attacks in communities. It is important that officials understand exactly what breed discriminatory laws entail, in enforcement, due process and litigation.
Please reach out to the members of the council to politely and factually support a strong reckless owner based breed neutral law. It is admirable that the members of the council would like to take a proactive approach to the issues of dangerous dogs but the current proposal will do nothing to effect community safety.
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