It has been a long hard road to repeal the breed ban in Aurora Colorado. There have many attempts to have the council address the issue via letter writing campaigns, requests to the council directly and other tactics, which would be best described as “frontal assaults.”
One of the biggest things that tends to trip up efforts such as this is the inability to remain factual, letting emotion override reasonable discourse. We see this time and time again, Broward County Florida this past summer and Yakima Washington this past week are just a couple of examples from recently. Officials say that the process is not respected adequately and the result is often the same in every municipality, legislators shut down to the conversation, and dig in to the status quo.
Aurora is at a tipping point. The council has pledged to give the issue thoughtful examination, and word from inside Aurora shows that this is not an empty promise.
ColoRADogs, a local advocacy group that has been working towards a repeal, has published a letter for those in the area about what is taking place behind the scenes and what is needed to help continue the discussion in a productive manner.
Keeping thoughtful discourse open requires several things in this case specifically. The issue will be addressed in January 2014, but the council members are wearing thin on having the regular city business interrupted. At this time, people are being asked to withhold public commentary at the council meetings until the issue is brought forward in January, as this will put the issue in jeopardy. For residents (and residents ONLY) who wish to write, one of the council members has made some suggestions for keeping correspondence productive.
Remember that this is a political process. When we engage in the political process, we must attempt to think like a politician. The “frontal assault” tactics have failed before and advocates are trying to keep this from happening again.
The following is republished with permission from ColoRADogs:
“Addressing BSL in Aurora and my conversation with Councilwoman Peterson
I apologize for the delay of my post. I have spent considerable time drafting a post that will convey the importance of the CM Renie Peterson’s suggestions and concerns, while remaining sensitive to the urgency and concerns of fellow animal advocates. All I can do in that regard is assure you all that this subject is deeply personal to me, as well, and I am conveying this information in attempt to preserve the possibility of repealing Aurora’s Restricted Breed Ordinance and creating a model responsible ownership community for other cities to emulate.
By accomplishing these two things, and preserving the line of communication we create in doing so, we can achieve more safe and humane communities across the state, improve shelter conditions, reduce shelter intake, and encourage shelters to save lives through behavioral programs and rescue partnerships. That’s another post, let’s get to Renie’s concerns and suggestions.
CM Peterson shared with me that repealing the ban is attainable only if we keep the line of communication open by respecting the council, the process and the city of Aurora. Many of the members of council and the Mayor want to give this issue the time it deserves. This will be proposed in January, provided council does not feel regular city business is disrupted before then. Renie did share that members of council feel bombarded with a profoundly negative message, by non-constituents and some constituents, at the regular city council meetings and this is already wearing on them.
I would ask you to forgive my bluntness, but we simply do not have the opportunity to mince words at this point. It has come to my attention that some advocates plan on addressing council again this month. Please respect the time of council and the fact they have already agreed to hear us out in January and give them this time to finish their current projects for 2013 and begin their reorganizing for 2014. Addressing them again this month only serves to break down the relationship.
If advocates continue the negativity and disrespect towards their time and their city the proposal to repeal will be dropped at any time, and we currently face the very real possibility of not being allowed the opportunity for discussion. For those of you there in 2011, you know the difficulties that presents It’s not very effective trying to coach a council member through facial expressions from the sidelines. We need to be in on the conversation. Change happens through productive dialogue and it is up to us to see that we have that opportunity.
Today I sat in a jury room for hours watching other potential jurors being asked questions first by the prosecutor who brought them in by empowering them. Then I watched a (I presume new) defense attorney tear them down through her own style of questioning which bordered on accusatory, as if they were the prosecution’s witness. The jurors visibly became defensive and lost focus on the questions as they focused on their new-found hatred for this defense attorney. Council members are like jurors. Win them over! Make them want to be on your side! They don’t owe you or I anything, their duty is to do what is best for the city and their constituents as a whole. We can provide the knowledge and the tools, council will make the decisions.
So let’s lighten this up a little and get to the fun part! Suggestions! How we can win them over! While you may have heard some of these from me before, the general suggestions are straight from an Aurora Councilwoman.
GRATITUDE! Yes, you can be sincere and do this. Remember despite some of the same challenges, progress was made in 2011, thank Council for continuing to work with us and thank them for choosing to move the proposal forward. Please be sure to thank CM Renie Peterson for bringing this to council.
KEEP IT LOCAL! Like I said before, council wants to hear from their constituents but if they start seeing the majority of messages are not from constituents they will not have the time to read and the message will be lost altogether. If you do not live here but want to help , recruit Aurora citizens or a highly regarded expert (star power, anyone?)
KEEP IT POSITIVE! What? How? Actually, it’s not that hard if you think about how exciting and fun it would be to create a model responsible ownership community in our very own city. Focus on the future possibilities. If you have been personally effected, that is important to share that experience, and this is not an attempt to marginalize your experience. We will share the facts of how BSL has been unsuccessful but the overall message should be positive as we explore how reversing the ban will reflect well on the city.
SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT! Let the council know you support their efforts spent exploring the repeal of the ban, that you support the repeal, you support reckless owner laws, you support a safer and more humane Aurora, you support the Animal Care and Control in working with citizens and supporting organizations. I will say it again. SUPPORT!
Thank you for reading this through, happy advocating and as always, Take C.A.R.E!
Community Outreach Director
Am a bit confused here,was always under the impression that councillors were there to serve there constituents,which made them servants,they were not there to dictate policy.
Hallelujah!!! Please, please, please let’s make this viral in the pit bull advocating/rescuing/owning community!!! I have been working very hard as a pit bull advocate to remind all of the angry people out there who are tired of pit bulls being targeted by local politicians as inherently dangerous and worthy of being banned of this very thing. Just like a parent who has lost their temper and is screaming at the top of their lungs at their child WE WILL NOT BE HEARD until we approach our local councils with respect, with calm and with rational and useful information.
If people could just sit down and think about it for a minute with a rational attitude no doubt they would have to agree that getting in someone’s face in an angry accusatory irrational manner will not ever get a positive result and in fact will more often than not cause them to get right back in your face. It’s a law of physics, a law impossible to ignore, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That means when we get in the face of someone in anger that they will return that anger in an opposing manner meaning that they will dig their heels in and won’t give in, not even a lick, ever!
So if people really want to manifest change in regard to BSL then they must learn how to be calm, factual, rational and supportive of the processes required to repeal or avoid a breed ban.
If these politicos do not want to get off their butts and rid the planet of Laws of Evil then Vote the Rubbish out.
We have refrained from involving ourselves in any negativity or interactions that take away from the important work to repeal BSL from the City Of Aurora, and work to provide resources to help in that endeavor. However ColoRADogs feels it has reached a point where non-factual information is being reported, and so here is our response. We will not be drawn into fighting, name-calling or inappropriate interactions. Our one goal is to continue to focus on how best to work with City Council to support them in removing laws that target perceived breeds of dogs and replace those with breed neutral legislation.
Jennifer has a working relationship with members of City Council and as such, contacted Council Member Renie Peterson to ask how best to move forward to support the removal of this ban. Because she was given information that would be helpful to move this issue forward, and prevent people from being put on the defensive, she relayed that advice through a letter publicly in hopes that a cohesive joining of efforts might occur. It is unfortunate that was not the case. We fail to understand how any of our postings have been taken to be personal messages to any one person or persons. They have not. Additionally, accusations of actions such as voter suppression or intimidation are not only completely out of context to what has been written, but serves to distract from the very important work that needs to be done. We are relaying information to Colorado residents who are interested in changing the state of BSL in Colorado.
We do not change minds nor rescind BSL by putting people on the defensive. As we watch discriminatory legislation fall in other cities and remain in some, we see a pattern. In communities where people with the power to vote locally are speaking out in a unified manner and with respectful dialogue, we are seeing BSL falling to the wayside. While in areas where vitriol, or inflammatory posts on social media, or language that is not constructive is the method of communication, local Gov’t tables the issue or allows BSL to remain. We witnessed this recently in Yakima, WA where forward momentum looked promising until the last council meeting, where language shut the process down. While BSL affects us all, local residents are those who voices who are most important in changing local laws.
These reactionary posts to our group and supporters who are working to not only remove BSL but to find solutions to support owners and the city with resources seems to be misguided. In the end what is most important is that we replace these laws with ones that are breed neutral. If we are receiving advice on how best to support council members on how to make that happen, we believe that is a tremendously positive development and works to move us forward. We think it is advice that should be used to our, and our dogs’ advantage.
So in that light, we will continue to move forward and not be distracted by continued postings that are not productive to the end goal of removing BSL, supporting communities and changing hearts and minds.
Feel free to look us up on Facebook, drop us a line if you have any questions, and join us, and Aurora citizens in removing BSL from their community.
Thank you all for your assistance and efforts in helping me to
remove the BSL from Aurora’s dangerous animal ordinance.
This is an open minded group of Council members, and I believe
we will work through the process to make our City of Aurora better
for all breeds and owners.
Thank you for all your work and support for a repeal! If there is ever anything we can do to help, information that we can provide, please feel free to contact us directly.
Dear Councilwoman Peterson.
As a pit bull advocate I can’t thank you enough for your efforts to end the ban on pit bulls in Aurora. If there is any assistance the Portland Pit Bull Project out of Portland Oregon can lend we are at your service. Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you require any information or simply our support.
President and Co-Founder of The Portland Pit Bull Project
Founder of the Coast to Coast Bully Walk Project/Event