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2014 Year in Review

It is time to take a look back at 2014, and what the year has brought us in the world of breed discriminatory laws.  2013 was a good year, but pales in comparison to what happened this year.

Below is a list of passages, repeals and rejections of breed discriminatory laws, as well as some notable court cases.  For our purposes, rejection means when a breed discriminatory law of any kind was brought up by an official and discussed.  Because of this, this list may vary from what others consider a rejection, which differs greatly depending on who is asked.  We use this definition in order to have a base from year to year, with which to compare.


Repeals:
Kennet, MO
Bonner Springs, KS
Canton, MI
Waterloo, WI
Bradford, PA
Clayton, MO
Garden City, KS
South Bend, Indiana
Washington Court, OH
Dearborn County, Indiana
Muscoda, WI
Hallsville, MO
Spring Hill, KS
Fairway, KS
Moreauville, LA
Cambridge, WI
16 total


Partial repeal:
Whitepine, Tennessee


Rejection:
El Dorado KS-rejected adding breeds to existing law
Cincinnati, OH
League City, TX
Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana
Randolph County, AR
Madison, WI
Medford, OR
Monticello, AR
Springdale, AR
Baker City, OR
10 total


Passage:
Lake Elsinore, CA MSN
Carroll County, MS
Humphrey, AR (“pit bulls” Rottweilers and Bull Mastiffs)
3 total


State:

In 2014 both Utah and South Dakota passed state-wide prohibitions against breed discriminatory laws.  Washington, Missouri and Maryland all attempted similar bills but ultimately the bills died at some point in the process.

Maryland:  Legislators finally passed a bill that over turned the disastrous court of appeals ruling in the case of Tracey v Solesky.  Legislators were hung up on the standard of liability for dog owners, but were unanimous about the need to over rule the landlord liability for dog bites and the breed discriminatory part of the ruling.  They finally reached a consensus after years of debate.


Court cases:

New Llano, Louisiana:  Unenforceable by court order.  The Nelson family sued the town of New Llano after they were told to remove their dog from the town or risk her being killed.  The Nelsons had just moved to New Llano and were un-aware of the ban.  Mazzy was held in boarding for a long time as the court case went through the process.  An injunction was filed and granted by the judge.  This case is still technically active.

Clay, Alabama:  In early 2013, the town of Clay passed a breed ban.  This was immediately challenged and mid 2013 an injunction was filed.  2014 saw that case before the courts and the judge ruled against the town.  A couple notable things about that case was the judge saying that the town cannot ban something they have had no issue with.  Officials admitted the ban was passed after the read an article about “pit bulls.”

We have seen repeated victories in court against Reynoldsburg, Ohio’s law, though they remain at the level of municipal court and are limited to people keeping their dogs and not challenging the law itself.

Aurora, Co:  Aurora became the second city to put a breed discriminatory law on the ballot and, though the ballot measure ultimately failed, we saw amazing success in messaging, as well as a stark reminder that many people are not even aware they are living under these laws.  A full analysis of the events can be found here: https://stopbsl.org/2014/11/06/aurora-colorado-the-good-the-bad-and-the-silver-lining/

2014 was a remarkable year for the rights of individuals and community safety.  More and more municipalities are seeing the failure of breed discriminatory laws and overturning them.  No doubt 2015 will be better.

It can be easy to lose sight of the larger picture when dealing with this fight day in and day out.  We hope that this post shows that the tide is, in fact, turning against breed discriminatory laws, and laws that target irresponsible and reckless owners are winning out.

If you know of a repeal, rejection or enactment that is not on this list, please let me know by e-mailing StopBSL.org@gmail.com.

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Moreauville, LA, update: Officials pledge to suspend enforcement of ban

When the small town of Moreauville, LA, enacted a breed discriminatory law targeting “pit bulls” and Rottweilers, it was a quiet affair.  The law, passed on October 13th, didn’t garner so much as a blip online.

When officials sent a letter to residents demanding they remove their dogs by the first of December all that changed.

As of this post, the story has been picked up by USA Today, CNN, The View,  CBS affiliates, as well as garnering some international coverage and attracting attention from celebrities across the nation.

Two petitions are currently circulating.  One was started by the family of Zeus, who has become a media figurehead of sorts for the village’s breed discriminatory law.  This petition has over 140,000 signatures.  The other was started to focus on a general repeal and has over 10,000 signatures in one day.

The attention that has been given to the issue of breed discriminatory laws by this story has been remarkable.  It has been the media’s driving behind Zeus and his family that has brought so much attention to this issue.  We must stress, however, that this is about more than just one dog.  There are many other families that are at risk.  It is good that there has been something to galvanize people into action, but we cannot lose sight of the larger picture.  Unfortunately, the media has not yet picked up on the larger issues at play.

I was able to speak with two other people who are effected by this ban and asked them each to make a statement.

” I live in Moreauville, LA.  I have 5 kids and a grandson. I have a pit bull named Sugar.  My grandson is 2 and he has been raised with Sugar.  I have a 14 year old son who has ADHD, bipolar, and Aspergers syndrome.  When he is down he talks to Sugar…my dog has never hurt anyone or anything.  She is a part of the family.  It would hurt my kids and my family severely to have a member of the family ripped out…  It is hell to love with the worry of if we’re going to lose our family dog, a part of our family and all the ban will do is hurt innocent people.  The good have to suffer for the bad.

“My Name is Cindy Devens.  The ban in Moreauville, LA, is effecting more than just Zeus and it needs to be addressed…My dogs are emotional support dogs in a way too. I have a member in my household who is diagnosed PTSD and he relies on their love, affection, and his need for care. He needs these dogs too! We served our country for 6 years a piece.  Both of us are Air Force veterans and the other member of my house is a combat veteran with 15+ months served in combat.  We fight for our country and here we are fighting for our dogs!  I’m appalled by the ignorance of this type of law/ban and it has placed a HUGE emotional strain on my household. There have been too many sleepless nights and emotional roller coasters since the papers were dropped off.  No one understands just how bad this could affect someones psyche with these type of issues. We just moved to this town in July… I will not be overlooked just because I am new to town!”

The goal here is not just to keep all the families together, but to repeal the ban and enact a law that will effectively address the issues the community is facing.

This is about more than just one family.  This is about more than many families.  The fight against this law is about the loss of rights, due process, and a missed chance to help make residents safer in their community.

Residents approached the council with legitimate concerns about certain dogs in the community.  These concerns must be addressed.  It is still unclear at this time if there is an animal control agency in town that would be able to enforce any law on the books.  It appears that there are several veterinary clinics that contract with the city to house animals, in lieu of a formal shelter.  City officials had included the name of a veterinary clinic in the meetings minutes, implying that this clinic would be tasked with the “disposition” of banned dogs.

This clinic has made a public statement saying that they have not agreed to this, and that they do not support euthanizing dogs for the enforcement of a ban.  Unfortunately, some people had taken it upon themselves to attack the clinic personally.  This attack is unwarranted and counterproductive.  We would like to take a moment to thank the clinic for making a stand against breed discriminatory laws.

We have agreed to be no part of this ban in Moreauville and were never apart of it. The paper of the minutes stating us as the clinic was done without our knowledge. A letter will be going out to the town of Moreauville this week stating that we will not participate in this ban….All doctors at VCA, both Simmsport and Marksville are in agreement that no dogs brought in due to the ban will be euthanized unless the dog has a history of viscously attacking someone and is unable to be contained to the owners’ premises…

The latest reports coming from Moreauville state that enforcement of the breed discriminatory law will be put on hold until the council has a chance to meet and address concerns about the law.

It was a mistake,” said Alderman Penn Lemoine. “And it’s got to be redone and reworded. And this Dec. 1 date is not going to happen.”

Thus far, officials who have been reached have been open to suggestions that would meet the needs of the residents who complained about issues in the community.  The situation has been extremely confusing because the way the ordinance that has been circulating reads, there are restrictions but officials and the letter residents received clearly state that it is a ban.

Some concerned residents attempted to obtain a signed copy of this ordinance, any general dog laws that are on the books, and the meeting minutes, but the town hall was closed.  Thus far, these documents have been unavailable.

Alderman Penn Lemoine said the board will have a special meeting to address the ordinance.   He also said that they’ll likely overturn the law.

From the article: “Part of the problem the village might need to instead address, Lemoine said, is properly enforcing the village’s leash ordinance rather than banning certain dogs.”

The most productive line of action at this point is to offer solutions to the towns issues.  We do not know if the discussion will continue at the next scheduled meeting, December 8th, or if the board will meet before then. We will update accordingly as information becomes available.

It is imperative that residents attend this meeting to be heard.  Officials have stated that they want to hear from residents specifically.

Camdenton, Missouri may head to lawsuit over breed ban

The city of Camdenton, Missouri, heard a request to review their long-standing pit bull ban yesterday at the board meeting, along with a request to dismiss a citation for violation of the ban.  The request was made by Misty Brown, a woman who bought a house in town 2 weeks before she was told her dogs must be removed from the town.  The two dogs in question, Karma and Chaos, are registered American Bulldogs.

According to Brown, before closing on her house, she checked with city hall and was told by an employee that her dogs were fine because they are not pit bulls.  Despite doing her due diligence, despite American Bulldogs not being a targeted breed and despite the fact that the dogs did nothing wrong, Brown was cited under the ban after a neighbor complained about the dogs.  Brown was ticketed and told that she had to get rid of the dogs by November 12th.

The ban, which was passed in 1989, defines a “pit bull” several ways.

A pit bull may be identified as any dog which exhibits those distinguishing characteristics that substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club as described in the identification checklist which is on file in the City offices.” (amendment enacted 2011)

“1.  Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog;
2. The American pit bull terrier breed of dog;
3. The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog;
4.  Any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, or American pit bull terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, or American pit bull terrier;
5.  Any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier; and other breeds commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs, or pit bull terriers, or a combination of any of these breeds.” (original law enacted 1989)

The law has 2 separate and very different standards.  The language an element of its breeding and substantially conform are used and both are different in what they mean legally.  An element means any percentage of the specified breeds.  Substantially implies over 50%.

When Brown approached the board, she asked that she be allowed to keep her dogs because they are not pit bulls and their lineage as American Bulldogs is documented and provable.  The board decided that because the registered American Bulldogs were determined to fit some of the physical description of a pit bull, that they are banned.  The board seems to think that they can define a dog’s breed however they wish, based on 8 criteria that are extremely open to interpretation.  Actually, not even 8, because a dog only has to meet 5 of the 8 criteria in order to be banned.

Aside from the fact that dogs are being targeted that are in no way a pit bull, there are numerous problems with the law.  We sent a copy of the wording to Attorney Fred Kray, founder and CEO of Pit Bulletin Legal News for an evaluation.  His response is as follows:

Fred Kray: “The problem with this ordinance is that it puts the burden of proof on the dog owner.  So, after identification, there is a rebuttal presumption-which is essentially saying that the dog owner has the burden of proving the dog is not a pit bull.  This is tantamount to getting a speeding ticket and saying that once the officer clocks you, you have the burden to prove you weren’t speeding.  No, that is not what happens.  The government must come forward and initially prove their case that the dog is a pit bull and if they don’t show up-and go forward, the owner should walk.  There is also a question of the burden of proof.  What is the standard?  Ample proof is not a standard; it is unknowable.  According to Mansour v. King, the dog owner must be told the burden of proof and the government must have the burden of going forward.”

Brown and her attorney asked the board to review the ban and the board was told by the city attorney that there is no reason to do so.  It is clear the city attorney does not know much about due process, and is perhaps not the best to be advising in this situation, as the law is clearly flawed.

Brown’s attorney stated that the ticket opens the town to legal challenge for a vague law, and it appears that they will be heading to court over the issue.

This case highlights the exact opposite of what the pro-BSL lobby claims.  They claim that only actual “pit bulls” are targeted under bans, and that other dogs are not because “everyone” can identify a pit bull.  If papers don’t dis-prove a dog is banned, then there is no short-haired dog in the community that is safe.  They also claim that dogs aren’t taken from their homes, that bans simply keep new dogs from the community.  Clearly, this is not the case.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Below is the check list used to identify dogs as falling under the ordinance.  This gives a chance to see exactly how broadly these descriptions can be interpreted.

– Head is medium length, with a broad skull and very pronounced cheek muscles, a wide, deep muzzle, a well defined, moderately deep stop and strong under jaw. Viewed from the top, the head is shaped like a broad, blunt wedge.
– Eyes are round to almond shaped, are low in the skull and set far apart.
– Ears are set high. Un-cropped ears are short and usually held rose or half prick, through some hold them at full prick.
– Neck is heavy and muscular, attached to strong, muscular shoulders.
-Body is muscular, with a deep, broad chest, a wide front, deep brisket, well sprung ribs and slightly tucked loins.
-Tail is medium length and set low, think at base, tapering to a point.
-Hindquarters are well muscled, with hocks set low on the legs.
-Coat is a single coat, smooth, short and close to the skin.

 

Aurora, Colorado: The good, the bad and the silver lining

November 4th, a ballot measure in Aurora, Colorado that would have repealed the ban on dogs who are over 50% “pit bull” failed to pass.

On the surface, this seems to be a disheartening loss.  A lot of hard work was put into educating the public about the ban on a shoe string budget, and hopes were high that this would be the first repeal to happen by popular vote.  Ballot measures of any kind are complex creatures, with many factors contributing to the outcome.  It was an uphill battle from the start, but, when the bottom line is examined, we come away with a message not of failure, but of hope and success.

The first issue advocates for breed neutral laws had to contend with was the time frame.  The ballot was brought up for discussion by the city council 2 months before they officially created the measure.  City council must vote to put an issue on the ballot and the language of the ballot.  This means that groups in the area had a scant 90 days to develop and deliver their message.

Repeal had been a long running discussion in the community.  The issue had seen some significant media coverage even before the ballot came up.  The media and council were told by Aurora Animal Control that the ban was working and that bites in the community had been reduced, though they neglected to provide any data.   The actual data, obtained via a request to the city attorney, tells a very different story.

Chart used with permission from ColoRADogs

Chart used with permission from ColoRADogs

A detailed analysis of the data from Brent Toellner, KC Dog Blog, shows the same story that is clearly illustrated in the above chart.  Bites have increased in Aurora, overall, by 77% since the bans inception (details provided in the link).  This pivotal fact was neglected by every single media outlet that reported on the issue.  It is very clear that animal control was presenting “facts” to support the ban, instead of those that would inform the public.

Not only was Aurora Animal Control playing the part of spin doctor to cover the bans failure at protecting residents, they have also failed at breed identification.

Image used with permission from ColoRADogs

Image used with permission from ColoRADogs

Aurora is one of the few places where DNA testing is codified in the law. Because of this, we can see exactly how good animal control is at the job of identifying “pit bulls.” 76% of the time, dogs being targeted under the ban are not covered under the wording of the law.  76% of the time, resources in the form of man hours and money are wasted on dogs that are unlucky enough to look the part.  This information was also readily available via the city attorney’s office, but, yet again, both animal control and the media neglected to mention, even once, how abysmal the breed identification track record is.

In the 90 days before the ballot due date, local groups conducted a grassroots campaign to inform the public about the ballot and the ban.  Director of ColoRADogs, Nancy Tranzow, stated that many people believed the ban only affected dogs who were actually vicious, and were unaware that dogs that had done nothing wrong were being confiscated and killed.  When it was explained how these laws impact innocent families, many people changed their opinion of the ban.  The issue of property rights did not seem to affect opinions, stated Tranzow.  This stands out because according to a focus group conducted by Luntz Global, at the behest of Best Friends Animal Society, the issue of property rights featured strongly as one of the most effective arguments.

So what happened with the ballot itself?  Aurora operates mostly on mail in ballots and voters are responsible for postage.

The language of the ballot was deceptively simple.  “Shall the people of Aurora adopt an ordinance allowing pit bulls back into their city?”  This would appear to be a good thing, particularly after the issue of the Miami ballot measure language, which was so confusing many people claimed they voted the wrong way.  Experts on the legislative process and ballot initiatives say otherwise.  Many point out that overly simple language on a complex issue leads people to make uninformed decisions.  So instead of opting out of voting on something they are not familiar with, a person will vote based on “feeling, not fact” as Councilwoman Molly Markert so aptly put it.

“It’s not about a fact, it’s about a feeling.”  Should public safety be about a feeling?  This question should not even have to be answered.  The answer should be so self-evident that the question would never have to be asked.  Unfortunately, Aurora finds itself at the mercy of feelings and not facts.  The beautiful thing about facts, however, is that they always win out in the end.

So lets look at the facts:

-Aurora’s ban had not reduced attacks.

-Those tasked with the implementation of the ban cannot identify what they are trying to keep out of their community and yet they continue to insist this thing they can’t identify is much more dangerous than other dogs just by being.

-Informal polling in mid-September showed only 24% of people were for the repeal and (according to the count at the time of this posting) 35.2% actually voted to repeal.  This percentage increase in the span of roughly 45 days is remarkable.  Though some pro-BSL blogs are saying that the vote was 22,719 to repeal the ban and 92,898 to keep the ban, this is untrue.  The official count for the measure at the time of this post is 34,284 votes for repeal vs 62,953 against.  These numbers have changed several times, with the number of votes for repeal, creeping up steadily.

Polling roughly 45 days before the vote showed 24% for repeal.  That turned into 35.2% of voters for repeal.  This is something that should be highlighted.  There were 90 days to reach a community of almost 350,000 people, a part of which had no idea that there is a ban in place.  In 45 days, advocates increased support for the repeal and not only increased support, but increased the number of people who were willing to vote to change it in a quantifiable way.  Fact, not feeling.

The repeal failed.  This is a fact.  It is also a fact that education works to change minds.  It is a fact that the people working for the repeal were effective in their methods.  They worked professionally and ethically in the face of bullying, cyber stalking and harassment by the out of state pro-BSL lobby.  They worked diligently in the face of childish name calling, liable and blatant bigotry against them as individuals by so-called victims advocates.  They stood up and spoke up for the betterment of the community and they most certainly are not stopping just because feeling won this round.

Fact will win out.

Enumclaw, WA, keeps breed ban in place

At last nights meeting in Enumclaw, Washington, officials voted to keep the current breed ban in place.

The meeting drew a great number of commenters, some from both sides of the issue, but as we have seen before, the commenters for repealing the ban, out weighed those for keeping.  There was a small contingent to keep the ban, led by a woman whose child had been attacked by a dog she identified as a “pit bull.”  Public comment lasted for over an hour.

The vote to keep the law in place was unanimous.  This is interesting considering the vote to repeal was nearly unanimous as well, with only one dissenting vote.  The official recommendation per city documentation, was to repeal the existing ban.

There is some speculation that officials did not want to act to repeal with the emotional pressure present.

Though the repeal failed to pass the second reading, officials have said that this is not the end of the discussion.  Replacing the ban with restrictions is one idea that is being looked at as well as increasing penalties for those who have dogs that attack.

The ordinance that was for discussion, not only repealed the existing ban.  It also would have strengthened the rest of the dangerous dog laws, to better protect the community from negligent owners who fail to exercise proper care and control over their dogs.  A companion to the repeal would have adopted the county animal control law, which has been updated far more recently then the cities law.

King County provides animal control for the city, and having laws that are the same is extremely important for the proper enforcement of those laws.  Disparity breeds confusion for both residents and those working in official capacity, for the county.

It is unfortunate that officials failed to provide equal recourse for all victims of dog attacks and has failed to act in a manner that would have made for more effective enforcement of Animal Control within the city.

Rhode Island HB 7630 to allow Warwick to enact breed discriminatory law set for hearing

Rhode Island HB 7630 has been scheduled for a date to be heard by the first committee.  The House Committee on Municipal Government is set to hear the bill on March 20th.

The bill would allow the city of Warwick to re-institute their breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.  The old ordinance was voided when the Rhode Island legislature passed a law that made breed discriminatory laws illegal in the state.

This bill follows on the heels of another bill, by the same sponsors, which had attempted to alter state law to allow any town to pass a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.  That bill was tabled for further study.  The legislators then submitted HB 7630.

The bill’s sponsors are representatives of Warwick.

Warwick’s old law was a prohibition on owning a targeted dog unless it was altered, or the person had a license for breeding issued by the director on the local animal shelter.  Targeted dogs included American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, “or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds.”

Warwick animal control currently does a fantastic job of out reach.  They work with owners to provide low-cost services and to educate owners on the issue of spay/neuter.  This out reach is what is responsible for their effective population control, not the old law.

It has been proven time and time again that the solution to over population issues is effective out reach and community solutions.  These programs are responsible for the decrease in population and increase in positive outcomes for animals.  Many places do not have breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter laws, but they do have community out reach and education, and they still see the same results.

With the programs and out reach being done in the community, there is no reason for a law that would penalize people based on the appearance of their dog.  This is aside from the issue that these laws have the exact opposite effects of their intentions.  Communicating to underserved areas and providing resources does so much more for everyone.

Rhode Island residents:

Please reach out to the members of the committee and ask them to oppose this bill.  The state law was passed for a reason, and to allow a single town exemption via a bill is counter to the intent of the state law.  The rights of all residents of the state of Rhode Island deserve the same consideration.

Residents of Warwick, especially, should reach out to their representatives to oppose this bill.

Committee on Municipal Government:

rep-ogrady@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-newberry@rilin.state.ri.us,   rep-marshall@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-kazarian@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-johnston@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-costantino@rilin.state.ri.us,   rep-bennett@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-amore@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-ackerman@rilin.state.ri.us

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.