Category Archives: BSL Repealed

Clayton MO unanimously repeals breed discriminatory law

Clayton Missouri repealed their long-standing breed discriminatory law.

The old law considered all “pit bulls” to be dangerous and mandated a list of requirements to own one.  The requirements included registration and reporting. The dogs had to wear a bright orange collar and be confined per the ordinance, be on a leash and wear a muzzle. The owner must post warning signs, keep liability insurance.

From the ordinance, a targeted dog was defined as follows: “Any bull terrier breed of dog, which shall be defined as any Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog and/or any American pit bull terrier breed of dog and/or any American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog and/or any mixed breed of dog which contains, as an element of its breeding, genetic components of the aforementioned bull terrier breed of dog and/or any dog which has the appearance and characteristics and is known by the owner to be predominantly of the breeds of the bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and/or any other breed commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers or a combination of any of these breeds.

This is a good example of the broad reaching definition of “pit bull” some municipalities take.

Examining the ordinance, it becomes clear why this was repealed.  Not only has the language “as an element of its breeding” been challenged and struck down in court, the general definition is so wide and to literally encompass anything that has short hair and is a medium-sized dog.

Thought there is not much information at this point, we do know from those that attended the meeting, it was repealed unanimously.


Bradford PA comes into compliance with state law

For years Pennsylvania has had a state law that prohibits breed discrimination in any form.

When this law was enacted, there were no grandfather clauses allowed, and all places with breed discriminatory laws had to repeal their existing ordinances as they were voided by state law.

Some places seem to never have been made aware of the state law, as we saw with Bessemer PA last year, and now Bradford PA this year.

According to officials, they were questioned about the legality of the existence of their ordinance targeting “pit bulls” as dangerous.  The declaration of being dangerous meant that, in Bradford, dogs deemed to be pit bulls were banned, as dangerous dogs were not allowed in the city.

After an investigation, they were told that state law does in fact invalidate the ordinance, and they moved to officially remove the old ordinance from the books.

Tuesday, January 28th, the council met and repealed the old breed discriminatory law.  This was done without ceremony, and with out opposition, during a meeting where many different items of business were discussed.

Though there are some who list ordinances in PA as being valid, it is shown repeatedly that this is not the case.  Pennsylvania doe not allow breed discrimination by municipalities at all.  

Not only that but PA also takes things a step farther, being one of 2 states in the US that do not allow insurance companies to refuse or cancel coverage based on the breed of dog of the insured.

Waterloo Wisconsin repeals breed discriminatory restrictions

In 2013 Waterloo Wisconsin officials were discussing the possibility of repealing their breed restrictions.

Enacted in 1996, the ordinance targeted  “(1)The pit bull terrier breed of dog. (2) The Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog. (3) The American pit bull terrier breed of dog. (4) The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog. (5) Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than listed under Subsections (1) to (4) above whose breed or mixed breed is commonly known as “pit bull,” “pit bull dog” or “pit bull terrier.”

These dogs and their mixes were considered to be vicious by default.  Dogs that were targeted had to be muzzled, on a leash of a certain length, confined to the specifications of the ordinance, both inside and outside the house, targeted dogs are not allowed to live in multi-dwelling housing and signs must be posted.  These rules apply to dogs that have been declared vicious by their behaviors, as well as those who are determined to be a targeted breed.

In 2013 Watertown, WI, looked into a breed discriminatory law and rejected the idea after a lengthy debate.  The proposal there was a mirror of Waterloo’s ordinance.  This rejection was used to galvanize support in the area against breed discriminatory laws, as well as highlighting and supporting the failure of such a law.

Alderwoman Laura Cotting suggested removing the breed discriminatory language at the October 3rd meeting of the Health and Safety Committee.

At their last meeting, officials acted on this suggestion by removing all breed based language from the dangerous dog ordinance.

We have been able to get some information about what happened there behind the scenes.

The issue first came up when a bike trail between Waterloo and Watertown was approved to be installed by the State.  A group of dog carting and sledding enthusiasts who hold events in the area decided, based on several factors, that this trail would be a great place to promote dog carting events, but because of the existing breed discriminatory law in Waterloo, participants would not be able to cross the city line without stopping to muzzle some of the participating dogs.   This raised some questions for competitions, as well as the legalities behind dogs that may not be residing in Waterloo, and whether the law would affect them.  Included in the participating dogs that were restricted are therapy dogs working in the surrounding areas.

The city was contacted by community members who were concerned about the effect the breed discriminatory law would have on such events and the city at large.

After the city was contacted, a committee was formed to investigate the issue, look at the existing law, make recommendations and draft changes to the existing law.  Three public Safety Committee meetings were held.  The public was invited to participate in all meetings.  After the changes were drafted, there was a public hearing on the new language in the ordinance.   Between 10 and 15 people attended the hearing.   There were some differences of opinion on aspects of the changes officials were making to strengthen the revised breed neutral law, such as leash requirements and licensing issues, but all the residents agreed that breed neutral was the way the city should go.

Only one person spoke in support of the existing breed discriminatory language.  This person was not known to the community members.  When it became clear that the idea of keeping the existing breed discriminatory language was not supported by any member of the community or council, we are told that the individual that was there supporting it became frustrated.  This person had, at one point, attempted to get some personal information of the people who suggested the repeal, but the members of the community refused to disclose any of that information.

There was only one dissenting vote to the changes.

Congratulations to the city of Waterloo, Wisconsin, for supporting safe and humane communities, and wanting to address the real causes of dangerous dogs, reckless and negligent owners.

Canton Michigan officials vote to repeal breed discriminatory law

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 changes come after a local couple with a targeted dog approached the council and advocated for the removal of the breed discriminatory language.

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.

Bonner Springs Kansas lifts pit bull ban

Monday night officials in Bonner Springs Kansas voted to repeal their ban on pit bulls.

Last year a dog named Titan was picked up by the local animal control as being a banned dog.  When the dog was adopted several years ago it was listed as a terrier mix and adopted legally, but when animal control became involved they decided the dog was banned.  Animal control became involved when a neighbor called to complain about the dog.

The owner went to city officials to ask them to reconsider the ban.  In response city officials put together a task force to examine the issue.  The task force recommended repealing the ban.

Earlier this year one council member had said he supported the ban because he was concerned about animal controls ability to handle “large dogs.”

While handling of an animal could be a concern, the nature of animal control should involve training that helps to actively control any animal regardless of size or temperament.

Most of the council were immediately supportive.  Councilmen Jack Knight noted that, “Some of these ordinances go back and a lot of them has to be changed.”

Council President Tom Stephens was also supportive of the change.  He said, while researching the issue, he had found a book, likely the Pit Bull Placebo, that discussed how different breeds have been demonized throughout history.

“Sometimes we get a false sense of security if we look at a breed and say ‘That breed is the problem, so if we make a law banning it, we’ll be O.K.,’” Stephens said back in July of 2013.

This had not been the first time a resident had requested the change, and city officials listened to their constituents, researched the issue and repealed their ban, based on the facts.

The changes to the law will take effect on January 16th.

Basehor Kansas removes multi breed restrictions

Basehor Kansas had a breed discriminatory law in place that restricted “pit bulls”, Rottweilers and wolf-hybrids since 2003, when a dog identified as a pit bull attacked a farmer’s livestock.

Pit bull was defined in the ordinance as Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and any dog that had “the appearance and characteristic of being predominantly” of those breeds.  Rottweilers and wolf-hybrids were virtually undefined.  Rottweilers were identified by the owner registering the dog as a Rottweiler, which, under the old law, was prima facia evidence of the dog being subject to the law.  There was no section on how wolf-hybrids were identified or defined, which means that Husky, Malamute and related breeds and their mixes were likely targeted.

The ordinance required owners to confine their dogs in line with the law, carry $200,000 in insurance and muzzle targeted dogs, among a whole host of other requirements.  The old ordinance was 6 pages of requirements and restrictions for the above mentioned dogs, their mixes and look a likes.

Officials cite the difficulty in enforcing the law and it’s overly restrictive nature as the reasons for repealing it.  The police chief stated that when there was a vicious dog call, there was virtually no way to enforce the ordinance as it was written.

The police chief also stated that in order to comply with the old law a person should just not have the dog in the first place because of how restrictive it is.  We call this a de-facto ban, and is often the case with breed discriminatory restrictions.  Particularly so in this case because people only had ten days to come into compliance when the old law was passed.

Officials wanted to make their community more open for people.  “We want everybody to come to our community,” Chief Lloyd Martley stated in an interview.

The new ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the council, is completely breed neutral.  It requires that dogs deemed vicious based on their behavior be on leash when outside their kennel or home, confined in a secure kennel or inside the home, all owners of dogs must have a beware of dog sign posted and all owners of dogs must register their dogs with the city.

Waunakee WI repeals breed ban

Waunakee officials repealed their long-standing breed ban this week.

The issue was brought up by a resident when they were told their dog is banned under the ordinance after a neighbor complained because the dog barked at him while being walked.

The family had enlisted the help of The Lexus Project, with the intention of challenging the ordinance if the council refused to act.  Waunakee’s law was a particularly badly written one, which would not have been upheld in a court.  There were due process issues, identification issues and protocol problems the city would have had to defend.

Rather than running into costly litigation, officials repealed the ban, though they cited several different reasons for the change to remove the breed discriminatory language.

Todd Schmidt, village administrator said that, “This is an opportunity not just to remove the ban but to strengthen the ordinance as it exists.”

There are existing laws in place which prohibit dogs at large, have dangerous dog designations and outline behaviors which would classify a dog as dangerous.  These parts of the law will still be in effect.  Added to the ordinance is language that would give the police chief the power to declare a dog dangerous if it attacks on its own property in certain cases.

There was a lot of very reasonable discourse at the meeting.

Officials talked about the breed neutral law being easier to enforce, the difficulty of proving a dog is banned and the other various issues should the ban remain in place.

Congratulations to officials in Waunakee for being concerned about the safety of everyone in the community and wanting to target all dangerous dogs.