Tuesday night, officials in Canton unanimously voted to repeal their 20-year-old restrictions on dog deemed to be pit bulls.
The old ordinance targeted, “Any dog known by the owner to be a pit terrier, which shall be defined as any American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog known to contain as an element of its breeding any of such breeds.” Dogs that met this definition were considered vicious by default.
It is important to note that the specific language that is included in the old ordinance, the “as an element of its breeding,” has been subject to litigation and defeated as lacking in a rational basis.
Owners of targeted dog, under the old ordinance, had to have the dog tattooed, muzzled, confined according to the ordinance and have a file with animal control.
Officials said that the restrictions were passed when other places were instituting bans in the area. It is not uncommon for areas to enact similar ordinances, as well as repeal ordinances, in tandem with what surrounding areas do. Breed discriminatory laws were at their height during this period and there was no data to support or oppose them as related to public safety. As more data mounts against these kinds of laws as effecting means to improve the safety in the community, more places are repealing their old laws, leading into more places repealing.
The revised ordinance still addresses the issue of dangerous dogs but dogs will no longer be target based on their looks, but rather on the manner in which they are being handled in the community, as well as their behavior. All dogs are still required to be maintained on a leash except for designated off leash areas.
The changes will take effect in the end of January after the second reading of the repeal is approved.