Category Archives: BSL Passed

Moreauville, LA, passes breed ban: Demands all current dogs be removed

UPDATED INFORMATION HERE:  stopbsl.org/2014/11/24/moreauville-la-update-officials-pledge-to-suspend-enforcement-of-ban

On October 13th the small town of Moreauville, Louisiana, passed a ban on pit bull type dogs and Rottweilers.

The city has a little over 900 residents and no online presence.

Officials claim that they passed the ban at the request of  several residents.  These residents approached the council saying that they were unable to walk in certain neighborhoods because “these dogs were basically running along town.”  Alderman Penn Lemoine said the ordinance was enacted to “appease” these residents.

Officials say that there have been attacks but none have been documented.  This begs the question, what sort of animal control is in place, or was in place, before the ban?  Was it being enforced?  At the very least, it is clear that any laws that were in place were not being enforced.  We are attempting to get a copy of any pertinent legislation for review, but at this time, it is unclear if there are any laws on the books, or if there is an animal control agent tasked with enforcement.

The law does not have a grandfather clause.  This means that every single dog that matches the targeted type is at risk of being confiscated and killed.  A letter was sent out to residents saying that they must get rid of their dogs by December 1st or they will be confiscated and taken to a “veterinary clinic for further disposition.”

letter to remove dogs moreauville la

According to a local report, when the police chief was asked what would happen if dogs are not turned over voluntarily, the resident questioning the chief was told that, “They would come and get the dog and the dog would be disposed of and we would be fined.”

When pressed to clarify what “disposition” meant, Alderman Penn Lemoine refused, saying, “I’d rather not elaborate on that.”  Apparently, city officials are fine with passing a law that takes away and kills people’s dogs because of the way they look, but they are not comfortable talking about it publicly.

Something the Pro-BSL lobby claims all the time is that a ban doesn’t mean that dogs are taken away from their homes and killed.  They claim that these are scare tactics used by “pit bull advocates.”  They claim that all current owned dogs are allowed to live out the rest of their lives under a ban and that it is just new dogs that are not allowed.  We know from many places that this is not true, and this letter to owners of pit bulls and Rottweilers is just more evidence of that.  We at StopBSL would like a statement from BSL proponents, clarifying what exactly they mean, in the face of this evidence, that it is only a “scare tactic.”

Families with targeted dogs are seeking support to be able to keep their dogs.  There is a question as to the legality of taking property that was obtained legally at the time of the legislations passage (in this case dogs are considered property) and “disposing” of it.  There are also questions about the legality of the ordinance in general.  Preliminary review from experts in the field of dangerous dog law  point to numerous constitutional and due process issues in the ban.

Officials are claiming that if there is enough of an outcry, they might revisit the issue on the December 8th meeting.  This is completely insufficient.  The deadline for the targeted dogs is a week before the next meeting.

RESIDENTS AND LOCALS:  It is incredibly important that members of the council hear your voices.  The passage of the ban was kept relatively quiet until now.  It is important that people are heard but all communication must be professional, respectful and factual.  We know this is an emotional issue, but anger and vitriol achieves nothing except to alienate officials in a time when people need their voices to be heard the most.  Offer alternatives, such as containment laws and point out the many failures of breed discriminatory laws.

Fosters are being lined up so that the targeted dogs can have a safe place to go, if needed, while this issue is resolved.  If you are local and outside the city limits of Moreauville, and can foster, please send a message to www.facebook.com/RepealBSLMoreauville.

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Lake Elsinore California passes breed discriminatory spay/neuter law

Officials in Lake Elsinore, California, passed a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law at their meeting last night.

Citing high shelter populations of the targeted population of dogs, officials claimed the need for such a measure.

It is no coincidence that Lake Elsinore is located in Riverside County, which recently passed a breed discriminatory spay/neuter law.  When a county passes a law like this it usually applies only to the unincorporated areas of the county.  It is up to the incorporated areas to determine if they are going to pass a similar ordinance.  This is what we are seeing in Riverside County now.  First with the passage of the law in Riverside City and now with Lake Elsinore.

The law is the mirror of the county law the requires all targeted dogs the age of four months or older be altered.  Officials are passing these laws with little if any understanding of the effects of them.   There is mounting evidence that pediatric spay/neuter is detrimental to the health of dogs.  There is also substantial evidence that these laws increase shelter populations of targeted dogs, doing the exact opposite of what they are claiming is the goal of the law.

The ordinance is said to have exemptions for assistance dogs as well as “certified” breeders.  The fines for non-compliance $100 for a first offense, up to $200 for the second offense, and up to $500 for the third and each subsequent offense.  There was a bare minimum of media coverage for this issue and only one dissenting vote.

As with other places that have passed these laws, the spoken intention of the law is quite different from what the rhetoric implies.  For example, in Lake Elsinore a staff report stated that, “The Department of Animal Services for Riverside County has found that Pit Bull and Pit Bull mixes significantly impact the health and safety of residents and their pets.”

Once again we are seeing an attempt to work around the California state law that prohibits all other forms of breed discriminatory laws.  There is no doubt that if officials had the opportunity to enact some other form of restrictions, they would have tried to do so.

Officials have enacted a proven failed policy under the pretense of shelter populations which will take valuable financial resources away from the real issues that need to be addressed in the community.

Riverside City CA changes spay/neuter law to actively target dogs resembling pit bulls

At last nights meeting, Riverside City California passed the changed to their already active spay/neuter ordinance that would target dogs officials declare to be a “pit bull.”

Riverside City already has a spay/neuter law in place.  By officials own admission, this law is not enforced with any regularity.  The only time it is enforced is if a dog is picked up by animal control or they receive a complaint about a dog and they find it is unaltered.

With a mandatory spay/neuter law already in place, we need to ask, what is the point of deciding to only actively target dogs based on their appearance?

Targeted dogs include Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Stafford Terriers and “mixes in which those breeds can be easily identified.”

The new law includes medical exemptions, exemptions for registered breeders and law enforcement dogs.  There are no exemptions for service dogs, show dogs, or other branches of working dogs.

Officials have not said how they will be “actively enforcing” the spay/neuter law,  how much money it will cost to do so or how they will be identifying dogs for enforcement.

This all seems a moot point, aside from the cost, considering that it is already a law to have your dog altered in Riverside City.

The changing of the law for targeted enforcement is bizarre.  It would seem to be common sense that the already existing spay/neuter law should be enforced if they are going to have it on the books.

Likely officials know that broad-based enforcement would be expensive, and have far-reaching detriments to shelter populations, so instead of enforcing what is already there, they have added more regulations.

Previous alert for Riverside City.

Dover Arkansas passes breed ban

Tuesday night the Dover City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that bans pit bulls.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, defines pit bulls as American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Bulldogs and “any dog that has been registered as a pit bull, referred to as such, or that is defined or identified as a dog belonging to any of the pit bull dog breeds.”

There is a grandfather clause that gives residents with a targeted dog 60 days to come into compliance with requirements in order to keep their dogs.  Those who fail to come into compliance will have their dogs confiscated.  The owner of a grandfathered dog must be at least 21 years old, the dog must be confined according the specifications of the law, the owner must provide documentation that the animal was licensed prior to the ordinance being passed, proof that the dog has received a rabies vaccination, and the dog must be altered.

This was an unusual ordinance because the law exempts registered show dogs with certain documentation.

If the theory is that certain dogs are dangerous solely based on their breed, it would stand to reason that pure breed dogs would more than likely carry whatever it is officials claim makes these dogs more dangerous than other breeds.  This law effectively allows for the closed gene pool of these supposedly dangerous dog to continue to live in their town, but bans dogs of unknown heritage, and therefore unknown genetics.

Failure to comply with the rules and regulations of the ordinance will result in the immediate seizure of the dog.  Owners face a misdemeanor charge, punishable with a fine no less than $150 and no more than $500.

If the dog is not claimed within three business days, the dog will be killed.

Previous alerts for Dover:

https://stopbsl.org/2013/07/05/dover-arkansas-passes-first-reading-of-breed-ban/

https://stopbsl.org/2013/09/29/three-cities-in-pope-county-arkansas-considering-breed-discriminatory-legislation-dardanelle-dover-and-pottsville/

Riverside County CA passes breed discriminatory spay/neuter 5-0

October 8th, 2013, the Riverside County California board of commissioners met for a public hearing on the proposed breed discriminatory law targeting pit bulls for mandatory spay/neuter.

The commissioners voted 5-0 to enact the proposal, which makes it mandatory for any owner of a dog deemed to be a pit bull to have their dog altered by the age of 4 months in unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

The commissioners gave several different reasons for wanting enact the ordinance, from “protecting” the public from dangerous dogs, to curbing populations of pit bull like dogs in shelters.  The conversation on this law started out with the familiar anti-pit bull rhetoric, that all pit bulls were different from other dogs, vicious by nature, etc.  It was not until the blow back from a statement made about challenging the state law that prohibits restrictions or bans that officials began changing their story to attempting to “protect” pit bulls.  This is a familiar end run that is used by pro-BDL groups when they are backed into a corner.  It is a tactic that has been more and more common, and one that some cannot seem to see for what it is.

As Josh Liddy, from SwayLove.org, said in an interview on Pit Bulletin Legal News Radio, that even at the passage of the spay/neuter law, the language employed by officials was that which is used to justify bans.  The interview details the events of the ordinances passage.

Acceptance of any breed discriminatory law is acceptance that “these dogs are different.”  Regardless of how one feels about mandatory spay/neuter in general, this is something that the dog community strongly opposes in theory, but the in person presence did not reflect that at today’s meeting.

There are some exemptions in the ordinance for animals who are unable to undergo the procedure, registered breeders, law enforcement and other service dogs, dogs who are only in Riverside County but licensed elsewhere and dogs that are pending a breed determination.  There is nothing about service dogs that are in training or show dogs.

“Pit bull” is defined by the ordinance as, “Any Staffordshire Bull Terrier,  American Pit Bull Terrier, or American Stafford (the typo is in the ordinance) Terrier breed of dog, or any mixed breed of dog which contains, as an element of its breeding, any of these breeds so as to be identifiable as partially of one or more of these breeds.”  The “as an element of its breeding” is problematic, from an enforcement and constitutional standpoint, because it is implicit of 1% of the targeted breeds.  How officials intend to prove 1% of a breed in a mixed breed dog is still a mystery.  This is an open door to litigation and has resulted in the overturning of other ordinances with this language.

The new law mandates that all targeted dogs, that are not exempted, be altered by 4 months of age.  There is a lot of debate about the detriments of pediatric spay/neuter in the veterinary community.  It is disturbing that officials would mandate a procedure that has a potential for serious health repercussions down the line.  What is even more disturbing is that a vet was on the panel today and this issue seems to have escaped his notice entirely.

People have 30 days from the ordinances passage to come up with the money to have their puppies and dogs fixed.  

Officials have said nothing about low-cost options for people who do not have the hundreds of dollars immediately, or people who may have been saving to have their dogs altered.  That would have been the better route, community outreach, education and extreme low cost spay/neuter for anyone who needs it, and making these things accessible to people who do not have transportation.  Many places have chosen this route over mandatory laws, which usually end in higher shelter intake, and have amazing successes.  It is a shame that this option was not implemented.

The full ordinance can be viewed here.

Livingston County Kentucky passes multi breed restrictions

The Livingston County Kentucky Fiscal Court has passed an ordinance that targets several different breeds of dogs and their mixes at their last meeting, despite opposition from residents.

In a bold display, officials cut off public comment at the vote.  A resident was presenting testimony about the ordinances violation of the AKC and UKC’s copyright of their breed standards, when officials cut off his comments and proceeded directly to the vote.

The ordinance relies on the breed standards from these two kennel clubs for enforcement of a “licensing” provision for American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers.  These standards are on file in the County Judges office, as well as Animal Control offices.  All the kennel clubs have been very clear that any use of their breed standards to enforce a breed discriminatory law is a direct and flagrant violation of the copyright. Some have gone so far as to testify in court on this.

Registered show dogs are exempted from this ordinance so, once again, we have a situation where the mixed breed dogs are being targeted but dogs that are officially one of the targeted breeds, are not.  The language is confused, including both the phrases “substantially conforms to” and “primarily of the breed” with no clarification as to what either of these standards are.

The ordinance appears to be a licensing ordinance on its face but when examined more closely it reveals itself to be the standard breed discriminatory restrictions.  In order to “license” a restricted dog, residents must meet multiple requirements.  Proof of vaccines, sterilization, confinement, personal contact information for the owner and the owner of a restricted dog will have to provide proof of $50,000 in liability insurance.

Officials were going to pass this no matter what.  This is clear from the comments of those present at the meeting and the way officials closed the discussion when it was pointed out they would be breaking the law to enforce their law.

County wide ordinances are expensive to enforce.  Residents will no doubt see a decrease in enforcement of effective animal control laws to be able to have the time and money to enforce a breed discriminatory law, that will clog shelters, dry up resources and penalize responsible owners.

It is always said by officials that irresponsible owners will be the ones to be targeted but this is never the case.  Blanket regulations for only certain segments of the population do not effectively create a safer community.  Breed discriminatory ordinances are over and under inclusive.

Viewing the report on incidents for restricted dogs raises a more serious question as to what exactly the basis is for this action.  There are a very limited number of incidents by the targeted population of dogs. In Livingston County’s letter to justify their breed discriminatory law, officials try to show they have an issue with targeted dogs.  There is a lot wrong with this letter.

The first thing is that based on the population of Livingston County and the most concrete time frame given in it of 2 years, this letter shows that there is a .0003% change of having being bitten by one of the targeted types of dogs.  Once we begin to break these down by the dogs actual breeds, or supposed breeds, the odds reduce.  The lack of a specific time frame, however, puts these odds at even less than that.  The text says that these bites occurred over the last “2 years (plus).”  The “plus” is undefined since there is no specific date span given.  This one word pulls into question all of the numbers presented.

The last section reads, “These Numbers do not reflect attacks not reported (we are confident that number would double these as we are personally aware of many that were not reported to animal control)

It is completely erroneous for officials to include that they have heard of more attacks but they were not reported. Officials are basing their opinions and passage of this ordinance on completely unsubstantiated claims, a kind of dog attack game of telephone.  It seems that officials were very much aware that the numbers they presented to do not speak to rampant dog related issues, rather a specified owner related one and were trying to mitigate the impression of the actual verifiable statistics.

Also noticeably absent are the bite reports of all other dogs and the total numbers of reported bites in the community, as well as the estimated population of targeted dogs in the community.  Cherry picked statistics are not uncommon in these cases, but they are always disappointing.

The biggest issue seems to be unattended dogs.  A very simple fix for this is to pass a breed neutral containment law.  No dogs should be in the community unattended, regardless of breed.

Owners have 60 days to comply or their dogs will be confiscated and they will be fined.

Livingston’s complete ordinance can be viewed here.

Clay Alabama passes pit bull ban

The City Council of Clay Alabama voted June 3rd to ban dogs they deem to be pit bulls after an incident involving 4 dogs officials claim were pit bull dogs.  The Sheriff was approached while on his porch by the loose dogs. He felt threatened and shot at them, grazing one of the dogs. This incident happened on Tuesday the 27th of May.

Officials passed a ban on pit bulls seven days later.

Sheriff Hale is now saying he believes the dogs that approached him were not pit bulls but Rottweilers.

The ordinance was modeled after Center Points ordinance.  The ban does have a grandfather clause.  Those people who currently have a dog that would fall under the ordinance have 60 days to register their dog in order to be able to keep it.  Owners of grandfathered dogs must post a sign, keep the dogs inside and carry $50,000 of liability insurance.

Violators of the new law face a fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

It is not known at this time whether any public input was accepted.  It is unlikely that this is the case because the prompting incident happened last week.  This appears to be a very clear case of serious owner failure resulting in some political favors being called in to mete out a personal vendetta with no care or consideration for any members of the community.  Seven days is not enough time to properly research the cost and impact of this kind of law.  Officials will no doubt find out very soon that there is a cost involved, and a heavy one at that.

Quick laws are, without fail, bad laws.