Baker City Oregon unanimously rejects breed discrimination

Following a fatal attack earlier this year, officials in Baker City Oregon were discussing the possibility of a breed discriminatory law targeting pit bull terrier like dogs.

The proposal would have declared targeted breeds to be dangerous and impose restrictions on them that were also to be imposed on dogs with a history of bad behavior. Targeted dogs would have included “… pit bull terrier, an American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier breed of any dog or any mix of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier as to be identifiable by the Hearing Officer as partially of the breed of American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier.”

A committee was formed to study the issue.  The committee examined many ordinances from across the country.   In the video from the last meeting, we have the opportunity to see the results of advocacy done right, and a group of council members who were very clearly concerned about the community, but needed just a little gentle guidance to come to the best possible ordinance.

During the discussion from the members of the committee and community, Councilor Coles made a motion to accept the proposal as is, minus the section that was breed based.  He cites the resolution from the American Bar Association urging municipalities to pass breed neutral laws as having had a great impact on him.  At that time there was no second, but a comment from another councilor that they would like to hear the rest of the testimony regarding the proposal.

Not one person who spoke, spoke in favor of breed based language. Watching the decorum of the speakers in very interesting.  Each speaker thanked the council and praised the process, starting off their commentary on a positive note.  At no time were any direct comments made about the council, or the council members, all comments were reserved for the material.

At the end, the initial motion to strike the breed discriminatory language is seconded by Councilwoman Mosier, who proceeds to make the commentary that is transcribed below. (edited for length, full comment available in the video linked above)

“I don’t have any special love for pit bulls or for any particular breed.  For me what it has come down to is increased community safety…All of the studies that I read…and pieces of information from peer-reviewed sources seemed to come down to the idea that multi-faceted approaches work best in achieving community safety.  That means not just banning a specific breed or restricting a specific breed, but community education, and insuring that we have problem pet owners addressed and insuring that we have dangerous dog ordinances enforced and that there are many fronts that have to be addressed in order to actually achieve community safety…I have a list of the organizations that support breed neutral ordinances and I’d just like to read them for you…the CDC, the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Animal Control Association, the Humane Society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Best Friends Animal Society, the American Bar Association and the White House even had an article supporting breed neutral ordinances that address… the problems that tend to lead to dangerous dog situations…There was one set of statistics that I did see…that refers to some success of such legislation but for my money that one set of statistics, or that one set of scenarios that cited success of breed specific legislation doesn’t outweigh that long list of peer-reviewed studies.

The council unanimously voted to remove all breed discriminatory language from the ordinance.

The proposal, as it stands now, addresses many things that will improve community safety, including addressing tethering, a tiered declaration for dogs who, based on their behavior, are causing issues in the community, mandatory obedience training for dogs declared dangerous and a section specific to reckless dog owners.  More communities are moving to enact reckless dog owner ordinances.  Most dangerous dog legislation follows the dog but does not address repeated negligent behavior by the owner.  Reckless dog owner ordinances make sure that people who have a history of not operating proper care and control of their dogs are held accountable for their history of negligent behavior.  Educational programs for school children were also discussed as a supplement to the ordinance.

If anyone would like to reach out and thank the council for their common sense, community based approach, the council members contact information is below.

Richard Langrell:
Clair Button:
Roger Coles:
Dennis Dorrah:
Mike Downing:
Barbara Johnson:
Kim Mosier:

Thanks to the Portland Pit Bull project for continuing to update on this issue.


7 responses to “Baker City Oregon unanimously rejects breed discrimination

  1. Thanks Kris for your report on this issue. As you know I’ve been in contact with a few of the Baker City Council members since learning a few months ago of their intent to discuss a possible breed ban or at the very least restrict certain breeds from being allowed within city limits. I have to say that I was encouraged from the very beginning by the openness of some of the members in replying to my e-mails on the issue and by what appeared to me to be a true desire not to ban or restrict a certain kind of dog but to put in place an ordinance that addressed the owner as the responsible party for a dog’s behavior.

    This city council truly did their homework and worked very hard to come up with something that would work and would be effective in keeping the community safe without affecting dogs that had never shown to be a danger to anyone. I would love to see their ordinance held up as a prime example of what can be accomplished by a group of public servants when they are open to all possibilities rather than have a narrow view of what the problem really is and how to address the problem in order to keep their community safe. I have no doubt that most, if not all, councils who are faced with this issue want the same thing and that is to keep their community safe however I have seen that many councils in a knee-jerk reaction simply ‘rubber stamp’ what other communities have done without really taking into account whether or not it has been effective.

    Good on ya Baker City Oregon.

  2. I believe it is a terrible decision to remove breed specific legislation especialy when one considers that they did not cite one single medical study. It amazes me how out of touch people are on these issues. First they have a incident and nowhere in the nation has there ever been the suggestion of a Poodle ban or a beagle ban but they believe that BSL does not work. Then they cite animal advocasy organizations as the guiding force. Which is like using the tabaco companies to gudie policy on smoking. At least we can take heart that this foolishness is in the public record.

    • What pertinence do medical studies have on the issue of whether or not breed discriminatory laws are effective? A “medical study” has no authority on the issue of effective strategies for improving community safety because that is no where near the scope or focus of them. The only thing those studies prove is what we all know intuitively, the larger the dog, the larger the damage. The decision made by the councilors was based on a large list of peer reviewed studies and organizations that was not solely comprised of animal welfare groups, but also groups with expertise in legal and public safety issues. I would say those groups are more than qualified to say what is a legally viable option for decreasing instances of injury by dogs to both people and pets. They reviewed the data of groups on both sides of the issue, but found the credibility of those in favor of breed discriminatory laws wanting in the face of the landslide of peer reviewed, verifiable information available that expressly state that breed discriminatory laws are ineffective and arbitrary.

  3. I was unaware the CDC, the AVMA, the NACA, the ABA, and the White House were animal advocacy organizations. And, Mr Solesky, I am curious (as a physician myself) what role you think medical studies should play in determining efficacy of legislation that falls outside the scope of medical issues? Where is your fury against Shiba Inus, 2 of which just killed a baby? Or against Chihuahuas, a pack of which mauled a young girl? Surely you remain well informed on such topics…

  4. Tony I really hope that you watched the dangerous dog ordinance portion of the video of their 12/10 council meeting that was provided in the report you are responding to. If you have watched it obviously you missed the beginning where they shared how many council and community members were on the committee and how much research they did. The council’s decision to remove the breed specific language came from the ‘facts’ they had learned of through their extensive research and how those ‘facts’ painted a very clear picture that breed specific dangerous dog ordinances have failed to keep the community safe based on historical data where breed bans had been implemented. Being the intelligent community minded people that they are the council and the committee that wrote this dangerous dog ordinance wanted to implement the most effective ordinance they possibly could so they went with what historical evidence from other communities indicated would be most effective and that is to have a dangerous dog ordinance that focuses on the dog owner and holds the human responsible for making sure that their dog is well-behaved, well-socialized and is a danger to no one.

    I fail to see however how any ‘medical’ evidence would have any bearing whatsoever on this issue. If you are speaking in terms of the amount of damage done it isn’t rocket surgery to figure out that a larger dog causes more damage than a smaller one as a rule. However smaller dogs have killed children in the past so as you can see size is not always an indication of how much damage a dog can do.

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