Category Archives: Georgia

Georgia bill to prohibit breed discriminatory laws moves forward

A bill that was introduced in the Georgia state legislature would prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level.

SB 184 is a relatively simple bill.  It would amend the current dangerous dog law to include the following language:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 4-8-1, no county, municipality, or local 12 authority shall adopt any ordinance or resolution for the regulation of domestic dogs that 13 classifies based on breed.

Most importantly, the bill expressly includes language that would repeal all existing breed discriminatory laws.

Last week, SB 184 cleared the Senate and moved on to the House.  The vote of 42-11 was a decisive victory for the bill.  SB 184 has been assigned to the House Government Affairs committee.

There is a companion bill in the House, HB 124.  This bill is identical in its language to SB 184.  This bill has cleared the second reading and is moving to the Senate side.  The fact that these bills have cleared the sides of the legislature that they started on is a very good sign.  There is support for the end of breed discriminatory laws on both sides.

The passage of these bills would be a huge step.  We do not see a lot of southern states taking on the issue of breed discriminatory laws and BDL seems to be more common in the south than in the north and west percentage wise.  Not only would this bill protect the rights of residents, it would also have a huge impact on the surrounding states and open the door to consideration of similar bills in the surrounding area.

GEORGIA RESIDENTS:  It is imperative that you continue to reach out to express support for this bill.  Take the time to write your Representative a note of support for SB 184.  A list of members of the House can be found here: http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx

You can find your specific Representative here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

The contact information for the House Government affairs committee is as follows:
Rep. Ed Rynders, Chair:  ed.rynders@house.ga.gov
Rep. Buzz Brockway,: buzz.brockway@house.ga.gov
Rep. Tyrone Brooks:  tyrone.brooks@house.ga.gov
Rep. Barry Fleming: barry.fleming@house.ga.gov
Rep. Hugh Floyd:  hugh.floyd@house.ga.gov
Rep. Mark Hamilton:  mark.hamilton@house.ga.gov
Rep. Dustin Hightower: dustin.hightower@house.ga.gov
Rep. Rusty Kidd:  rusty.kidd@house.ga.gov
Rep. Eddie Lumsden: eddie.lumsden@house.ga.gov
Rep. John Meadows:  john.meadows@house.ga.gov
Rep. Howard Mosby:  howard.mosby@house.ga.gov
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver: mary.oliver@house.ga.gov
Rep. Larry O’Neal:  larry.oneal@house.ga.gov
Rep. Alan Powell:  alan.powell@house.ga.gov
Rep. Jay Powell:  jay.powell@house.ga.gov
Rep. Tom Taylor:  tom.taylor@house.ga.gov
Rep. Darlene K. Taylor:  darlene.taylor@house.ga.gov
Rep. Bruce Williamson: bruce.williamson@house.ga.gov

Advertisements

Georgia state level concerns

The issue of Georgia and what is happening there has been very much the topic of conversation recently.

At this point in time, there is no chance of a breed discriminatory law being introduced on the state level for the 2014 legislative session.  The deadline for filing bills has passed, and since nothing has been filed, the issue is not of concern for this year.

There is a long past to the issue of a potential breed discriminatory law in Georgia.  Most recently, the issue we are seeing with Representative Waites has taken some strange turns.

In early 2013, a very young child crawled out of their home and was attacked by seven dogs.  The two-year old child crawled out of a dog door, while unsupervised and as a result, died.

Rep. Waites had some contact with the family of this particular victim, and the conversation about breed discriminatory laws began.  Local advocates were quick to act, meeting with Rep. Waites to both oppose the idea of any breed discriminatory laws, as well as to offer help is crafting breed neutral laws.

The initial discovery was that, as is typical with many legislators, there was very little understanding of what dangerous dog laws need to contain in order to be effective.  It is not uncommon that those who seek to make these laws know little about them.  It is not something that many people deal with on a daily basis.  This is why it is important that legislators hear from those who are well versed in the civil, criminal and constitutional issues of dangerous dog laws.

What we do see with some legislators when dealing with breed discriminatory issues, is usually a base line understanding of which dogs are typically targeted.  We have been told that the Representative did not know that her own dog was considered to be dangerous in many locations, by insurance companies and designated as rescue only by an organization in her own district.

The results of these preliminary conversations were that the Rep. said she would no longer pursue a breed discriminatory law.  A note on Rep, Waites’ Facebook page from late April 2013, states that any law would be breed neutral.

From the note:

“Instead of proposing an all-out ban of dangerous dogs or on pit bulls, which could be seen as infringing on the individual freedoms of responsible pet owners across the state, I am merely proposing that those who choose to own violent and dangerous animals that have a history of violence be held responsible, considering the type of damage these animals are capable of inflicting,” said Rep. Waites. “While I am very committed to the passage of comprehensive dangerous dog legislation, I am also interest in ensuring that responsible pet owners are not unfairly targeted.” 

“I don’t think outlawing pit bulls is the way to go. However, there must be stronger laws on the books governing attacks by aggressive dogs, and stiff penalties to go with them for the owners of the dogs.   When people start seeing dog owners go to jail for irresponsible behavior, they’ll start thinking twice about keeping a potentially dangerous animal for a pet,” Added Rep. Waites.”

This line of discussion continued through June of 2013.  It wasn’t until the mother of another young child that was killed while unsupervised approached Rep. Waites that the conversation about breed discriminatory laws began again.

There are two videos on the Representative’s Facebook page.  The first, from December 12th 2013, is one where Rep. Waites has a conversation with the mother of the second victim from 2013.   During this, the Representative states very clearly that she wants to seek “bully breed” legislation on the state level.

The latest official statement made is from February 2014 video in which Rep. Waites addressing the House with a statement.  In this statement she urges the House to pass a law that would make the breeding of “pit bull animals to only licensed holders.”  This is language used frequently when a breed discriminatory mandatory spay neuter law is being discussed.  We have been told that the Representative has said on numerous occasions, even directly after saying she was in opposition to a breed discriminatory law, that a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law was of interest.  She seemed to have a particular interest in breeders specifically in these conversations.

She also states in this video that “every day a child is fatally injured by animals that were simply never ever meant to be pets.”  Not only is this statement a clear indicator of the personal bias involved in this, but it is also a complete falsehood.  Each year there are roughly 30 fatal attacks by dogs.  This number has remained steady despite both the rise in the human population and the rise in the dog population.  While each situation is tragic, there are numerous co-occurring factors involved in fatal attacks, but the breed or type of the dog is not one of them, shown once again by the latest peer-reviewed study published by the JAVMA.

This statement was accompanied by a rally, attended by roughly 15 people, including out-of-state interests.

The situation will continue to be monitored.  It has been made clear that the legislative desired of Rep. Waites changes depending on who is being spoken to, so only time will tell what, if any, actual action will be taken in the 2015 legislative session.

Representative Waites is currently up for re-election and is, at this time, running unopposed.

Thank you Jo for the additional information regarding this issue.

Savannah, GA – Officials Focus on Irresponsible Owners

We reported last July that a group in Savannah had rallied 1000 signatures on a petition seeking breed-specific legislation.

Officials are assuring residents that ‘bully breed’ dogs are not the subject of their foreseeable changes to the current policy.

Savannah City Council is reviewing the dog policy in effort to strengthen Animal Control ordinances.   According to Lt. Brenda Boulware of Animal Control, “We want to strengthen ordinances, making owners more responsible.”

After several dog attacks in the area, stricter guidelines on owners of dogs declared dangerous is a community-safety necessity.  While the proposed changes to the ordinance is not targeting a breed, it is targeting temperament.

According to Boulware, the misconception that there is one free bite is incorrect.  A dog can be classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous after the first bite, or before it bites.  The changes to the ordinance would make a court appearance mandatory for owners who are cited for ‘dogs at large’ as well as making failure to register their animal with the city an offense resulting in a citation.

Chatham County (where Savannah is located) has already adopted the proposed changes that Savannah officials are considering.  That ordinance can be viewed here.

http://www2.wsav.com/news/2012/sep/25/changes-dog-ordinance-city-council-vote-ar-4626261/

SAVANNAH, GA —

It’s a possible policy change that could affect all Savannah dog owners.

Several dog attacks in the area, including a vicious one in Treat Park last year that left a little boy severely injured, some concerned neighbors in the community have asked for a crack down on certain breeds.

But supporters of the changing city ordinance are more focused on the behavior of the dog, not the breed of the dog.

Savannah City Council is currently reviewing their dog policy, and many of you—our viewers– were worried that they will pass breed specific legislation, targeting “bully breeds” — that is any kind of bull mix, including pit bulls.  Lt. Brenda Boulware of Animal Control sets the record straight.

“We want to strengthen Animal Control ordinances, making owners more responsible.”

Hinesville, GA update: Council will not pursue BSL

The Hinesville, GA, city council rejected BSL at a weekend planning retreat and appears disinclined to bring the subject up again.

BSL was a discussion item after a resident made repeated requests for BSL to council, but council never formally drew up a proposal and they unanimously killed the idea after discussion.

Pit-bull issue elicits strong emotions

POSTED: July 27, 2012 11:17 a.m.
By Randy C. Murray Staff writer

A proposed ordinance to ban pit bulls in Hinesville was among 38 issues considered by city leaders during their recent planning workshop, but it quickly was shot down by all five council members, Mayor Jim Thomas and other city officials.

(Remainder of article is subscription only) Retrieved 8/2/12 from http://coastalcourier.com/section/6/article/46207/preview/

You can THANK the city council through this online form: http://ga-hinesville.civicplus.com/forms.aspx?fid=41

Many thanks to Johanna over at Stubby’s Heroes for providing the update!

All alerts for Hinesville: https://stopbsl.org/?s=hinesville

Hinesville, GA: Whispers of BSL

We last reported on Hinesville in 2011, when a resident approached city council and requested a “pit bull” ban. Things were pretty quiet in Hinesville after that, until now. Rumors that the city is considering a breed ban have resurfaced.

Update 7/16/12: Per the city clerk, “This subject of a pit bull ban will be a discussion item only at the City of Hinesville Planning Workshop.  No ordinance has been drafted and no decision has been made to ban pit bulls.

The workshop will take place on July 19 – 21 at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, and interested citizens are invited to attend. Click for city notice of retreat. We do not know exactly what city officials plan to say about a possible breed ban.

We also know that locals are organizing to speak against a possible breed ban at the August 2 council meeting. Council meetings begin at 3 PM at the City Hall Main Conference Room, 115 East M.L. King, Jr. Drive, Hinesville, GA 31313.

There is NOT currently an official proposal for a breed ban or BSL. The idea is in the discussion stage. This is a good time for residents to get involved in the discussion and respectfully guide council away from breed-specific measures.

Contact the city council through this online form: http://ga-hinesville.civicplus.com/forms.aspx?fid=41

Want to join a local group? Stubby’s Heroes – Fighting BSL in Georgia is one possible group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/377106945637822/

If you are a resident or local, and you attend either of these meetings or have additional information (primary source if possible) about this issue, please send us an email at stopbsl.org@gmail.com.

Many thanks to Christa for this alert!

East Coast bike relay event to protest BSL, Aug 29–Sept 2

Bless the Bullys Pit Bull Rescue & Education and Southern Ontario Animal Rescue (SOAR) invite you to take part in a unique effort to bring awareness to breed specific legislation, rescue, and responsible dog ownership.

Bikers and Bullys Without Borders” is a bike ride from Miami, Florida to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and is an effort to demonstrate a united stance against BSL. Just as BSL has no borders, the effort to stop it knows no borders, as well.

The ride is taking place from August 29 to September 2, 2012. It starts in Miami, FL and goes up the east coast finishing in Toronto, Canada.

We are dedicating the ride to Lennox and the Barnes family, the people who loved and fought to save his life. After a two year battle, Lennox was killed last week by the Belfast, Ireland council simply because he looked like a “pit bull.” We are having a stuffed Lennox made, and along each stop on the route, he will be handed off to the next group of riders, along with any notes of condolence and support to the Barnes family. After the ride, both the stuffed Lennox and all the cards and letters will be sent to the Barnes family to show that although we are separated by thousands of miles, we stand united with them in their fight, and we all mourn the death of an innocent animal.

You don’t need to be part of an animal welfare organization to take part in the ride…you only need to have a desire to see BSL come to an end so that no dog and no family ever face the heartbreak and anguish of breed specific legislation again.

SOAR is organizing the troops for a vote on the Ontario pit bull ban in September, and using the bike rally as a fundraiser for their efforts to end BSL there. However, those taking parts in the states can simply use the ride to bring awareness to the fight against BSL, and to promote rescue and responsible dog ownership.

We need every leg of the ride filled – even if its just one bike – so that Lennox and our messages to the family can make it to Canada. Please consider taking part in this very special event, and share this with your friends and bike clubs who may be interested in taking part. Just like the effort to stop BSL, we really need YOU to make this happen!

More information on the ride can be found at the SOAR website, or you can contact me at jodi@blessthebullys.com. The route for the ride can be found here.

DeKalb County, GA: County approves repeal of BSL

DeKalb County commissioners have unanimously voted to repeal the breed-specific language in their county zoning ordinance. Residents and locals, please write the county commissioners and THANK them for making a smart decision.

Contact information for county commissioners
Board of Commissioners, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, GA 30030
Fax: 404-371-7004
ecboyer@dekalbcountyga.gov; jrader@dekalbcountyga.gov; larryjohnson@dekalbcountyga.gov; sbsutton@dekalbcountyga.gov; lmay@dekalbcountyga.gov; kgannon@dekalbcountyga.gov; stanwatson@dekalbcountyga.gov

DeKalb lifts pit bull ban

By April Hunt , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The DeKalb County Commission unanimously agreed Tuesday to lift the ban on pit bulls — part of the county’s zoning code, not animal control ordinances — after more than a year of weighing the issue.

No other metro county has a ban on pit bulls, and DeKalb’s was less a ban than a source of confusion. Code enforcement officers cited owners who simply had to point out “pit bull” is not a breed of dog to have their tickets tossed.

“It has not been an effective tool for being able to get rid of dangerous animals,” said Commissioner Jeff Rader, who had championed the change. “We are better served relying on the criminal code.” […]

Full article retrieved 5/8/12 from http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-lifts-pit-bull-1433546.html

All alerts for DeKalb County: https://stopbsl.org/?s=dekalb