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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clair Button: email@example.com
Roger Coles: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dennis Dorrah: email@example.com
Mike Downing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Johnson: email@example.com
Kim Mosier: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to the Portland Pit Bull project for continuing to update on this issue.