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Albany Georgia tables breed discriminatory ordinance

Following the first vote, in which a strict breed discriminatory law was passed in Albany Georgia, support from officials began to wane.

If the proposal had been passed unanimously, officials could have waived the second reading and passed the proposal in one night.  The vote came in at one short of unanimous and was scheduled for the next vote.

This began the back slide of support for the proposal.  Many in the community and from organizations dealing with these issues began reaching out to the commission to express opposition to BDL and offer alternatives to the proposal between the first and second meetings.

There were several issues being raised, from the difficulty of enforcement, to concerns that the ordinance as drafted was to going to be too much of a financial burden on people.

After that first vote, the council had 2 new members take their seats.  Both of these council members were opposed to the proposal.  “Commissioner Coleman and Ward III Commissioner B. J. Fletcher took office after the ordinance was introduced.  Neither likes the existing proposal because of cost to owners and questions about enforcement.”  Additionally, Fletcher stated that any law they enact should be “concise” so that it is able to be enforced.

One council person felt that the ordinance should be passed and then revisited to be amended later on.  Jon Howard said there should be changes made to the proposal but wanted to pass something first and make changes when they see what is and what is not working.

At the last meeting, the final vote was to be held, but instead the commission voted to table the proposal.  Usually when a proposal is tabled, a date is set for it to be considered again.  This is not the case in Albany.  There was no discussion whether this would be considered again, and when that may be.  According to news reports, the commissioners are considering the proposal dead at this time.

This does not mean that the proposal is dead, however.  Until it is officially killed off, the proposal is still possible in the future.

Two council members are staunchly for a breed discriminatory law.  Additionally, one is for a breed discriminatory law because he knows of backyard breeders and some how thinks that the proposal will end that.

There are several important things to note about Albany’s Animal Control.  They do not have their own facility and pay the local humane society to house dogs.  This proposal would put an extreme burden of both the finances of the city, as well as the finances of the local Humane Society.

Records are not kept in any adequate way.  The commissioners had used the statistic that there were 48 bites attributed to “pit bulls” in 2013.  These are both animal and human combined.  The most recent census data from Albany puts the population in 2012 at just over 77,400.  There was no other data supplied about the numbers of other bites, though the indication is that there are many other bites that need to be addressed in the city and the 48 is a minority of incidents.

Georgia had passed a state level dangerous dog law that dealt with many issues some time ago, which was supposed to have been incorporated into the local municipalities by now.  Albany has not yet done so.  In fact, though there is a breed neutral dangerous dog law on the books, there is no classification for a potentially dangerous dog, nor is there any particular nuance or deterrent in the current ordinance.

Groups in the area are working to change this, so that Albany can strengthen the dangerous dog laws and be able to address the real cause of dangerous dogs in the community and come into compliance with the state law.

One group, Stubby’s Heroes, has provided substantial information to address the various issues being experienced by the community.  They have offered breed neutral alternatives and are working to bring in those who can help Albany comply with state law.

At this point, there will be no breed discriminatory law in Albany.  The situation still bears watching into the future.  The best bet will be for officials to enact one of the alternatives offered so that all dangerous dogs in the community are addressed, and responsible owners aren’t penalized for the actions of the few.

Thank you Jo for the information and update regarding this issue.

What happened in Pasadena CA and what comes next

For some time Pasadena has been discussing mandatory spay/neuter.

A proposal that applied to all dogs was being discussed but was tabled for study after some opposition.  Before the breed neutral proposal could be brought forward, one particular councilman, Steve Madison, put forth a spay/neuter proposal that would target dogs deemed to be “pit bulls.”

The rhetoric from Mr. Madison went far beyond spay/neuter into discussion of seeking a ban and there has been a lot of talk about the mayor approaching state legislators to see if anyone would take up the issue of changing the state law that prohibits breed discriminatory bans and restrictions.

In the time leading up to the Pasadena city council meeting in which the breed discriminatory law was to be discussed, it had appeared that the proposal would pass comfortably.  Much of the council was unresponsive to inquires on their position and those who were vocal were extremely vocal in support of the proposal.  There were a few on the council that had come out to say that they were not in support of the proposal before the meeting but they were in the minority.  Riverside County and Riverside Cities ordinances, which the Pasadena ordinance is copied from, passed with the bare minimum of opposition.

Previous meetings in Pasadena were poorly attended and there was concern that the meeting with the vote would be similarly attended.

The meeting in which the Pasadena city council heard a proposal which would target dogs deemed to be pit bulls for mandatory pediatric spay/neuter was an extremely well attended meeting.

55 people spoke and according to attendees there were at least an additional 50 people present who chose to not speak but were there to show support.

Not one person who spoke did so in favor of the ordinance.

Speakers included a public safety statistician, health care professionals, members of the animal welfare community who work in shelters and rescues both in the community as well as the surrounding areas, home owners and various professionals and business owners in the community, teachers, law enforcement, military, owners of “pit bulls” and non-pit bull owners a like.

Topics included the failures of such policies to reduce kill rates, failure to increase public safety, the difficulty of enforcement and among the other failings of breed discriminatory laws in all their forms.

Some of the speakers were emotional, which is understandable considering the emotional nature of the situation, however the majority presented solid factual points to oppose the proposal.  During the speaking portion of the meeting, some officials were open and receptive.  More stepped up in order to openly oppose the proposal.  Mr. Madison, however, did not look at any of the speakers, and at the end when he commented, it became clear that he had not listened to any of the speakers, or had reviewed any of the ample information provided to the council before hand.

Right away, a motion was made to table the proposal and revisit it in July.  The idea was that they wanted everyone to be heard and didn’t think there would be enough time in order to do so that night, or that there were some that wanted to attend but were unable to do so, such as representatives from the local humane society.  The meeting went forward anyway.

After the lengthy public comment, the motion was revisited to table the proposal.   The motion passed with a vote of 4-3.  The proposal will be heard on Monday, July 14th.  At that point the proposal will be revisited, along with the breed neutral mandatory spay/neuter proposal.

The author of the proposal has since been very vocal in the press about the need for this ordinance, speaking out every chance he had saying the council had made a mistake in tabling the issue until July.  Every chance he has, he has been repeating the logical fallacies that are often used to justify breed discriminatory laws.

It has become abundantly clear that, though the rest of the council was open to the information and time spent by the business owners and residents of he community, Mr. Madison will be continuing to push forward with the breed discriminatory proposal.  He has openly stated in new media reports that “pit bulls” need to be regulated.  Madison has also stated that he would keep introducing the proposal until it is passed.

Had the vote been taken at the meeting, the proposal would have failed. The majority of the council members opposed the breed discriminatory proposal.

This issue is not finished yet, and those in the area should plan on attending the meeting in July.  An event organized by can be found here, for people to coordinate their attendance.

All factual, respectful correspondence from Pasadena residents can be directed to the council:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Thank you to Josh Liddy, from, for your continued hard work on this issue.

Garden City Kansas to revisit breed discriminatory law

A Garden City attorney has asked the city commission to re-evaluate the cities breed discriminatory law, which was passed in 2002.

The current law labels the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier, and mixed breeds that have “the appearance of being predominantly one of those three breeds” as automatically vicious.

This designation carries with it requirements that must be met if the dog is to be kept in the city.  From the current city code:

“The owner of a vicious dog shall be subject to the following requirements:

(1)Confinement. All vicious dogs shall be securely confined indoors or in an enclosed and locked pen or structure upon the premises of the owner. The pen or structure must have minimum dimensions of five feet by ten feet and must have secure sides and a secure top attached to the sides. If no bottom is secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than two feet. All pens or structures must be adequately lighted and kept clean and sanitary. The enclosure must also protect the dog from the elements.

(2)Leash and muzzle. The owner of a vicious dog shall not allow the dog to go outside its kennel, pen, or structure unless the dog is muzzled, restrained by a chain or leash not more than four feet in length, and under the physical control of a person. The muzzle must not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration but must prevent the dog from biting any human or animal.

(3)Signs. The owner of a vicious dog shall display in a prominent place on the owner’s premises a clearly visible warning sign indicating that there is a vicious dog on the premises. The sign must be readable from the public highway, street, or thoroughfare. The owner shall also display a sign with a symbol warning children of the presence of a vicious dog. Similar signs shall be posted on the dog’s kennel, pen, or enclosed structure.”

These things are also required of dogs, who based on their behavior, have been declared vicious.  The request is to remove the breed based language from the law, leaving the vicious dog ordinance in place.

City officials have agreed that since the law had not been evaluated in over ten years that it would be worth evaluating now.

The city attorney is drafting changes to the ordinance and the changes will be brought forward at an upcoming meeting that has yet to be given a date.

Residents are encouraged to reach out to the commission to support a repeal.  Please write to encourage the commission to remove the breed discriminatory language and to strengthen the breed neutral portion of the law to keep the community safe.  There are ways in which the breed neutral portion of the law can be strengthened.  For example, there is currently no definition of a potentially dangerous dog.  A dog is either vicious or it isn’t.  Having more nuanced categories allows officials to do something about a dog that may not be vicious but is not being kept in the safest way possible in the community.  A reckless owner ordinance would also be a fantastic replacement for the breed discriminatory law, because it puts continued responsibility on the owner, even after they may get rid of a dog that has been declared vicious.

Be polite, factual and thank the commission for being willing to discuss the issue.,,,,

The sudden passing of a friend and advocate

Massachusetts lost a tireless advocate, for pit bull type dogs, and animals in general, this morning.

After a brief battle with an illness, Lisa Casavant passed away early today, due to complications.

Lisa was not afraid to take on all issues.  She spearheaded efforts to reform rural animal control facilities.  She took it upon herself to attend every hearing possible in local animal abuse cases and helped garner attention to them in an attempt to get justice, as well as organizing awareness walks for Eastern Massachusetts the past two years, among many other things.

I had the honor of knowing Lisa both personally and in advocacy.  She was a friend and ally in efforts against breed discriminatory legislation, both locally and elsewhere.  Insurance issues, housing issues, legislation, corporate breed discrimination, rescue and training, any time anyone needed help with anything Lisa offered her time and expertise to help in any way possible and more often than not took off running.

The best phrase that applies to Lisa was “take the bull by the horns.”  She always did, in whatever issue she was taking on.  A true leader in every sense.  I got to see this whenever we worked together.

It is difficult to try to describe the person that she was, while still being brief.  There were so many things she did in her life, to help people and animals, that to list them all would be impossible.  For those that knew her well, and even those who had never met her in real life, she has left a permanent mark.

I feel like I can’t do justice to the type of person Lisa was.  I’m not sure I could do that, no matter how much I would like to or how much I write.  So I will end with this…

Lisa’s passion was inspiring, her will indomitable.  As we mourn the loss of our friend, we should remember what it was Lisa did best, fighting for the greater good, and continue on, leaving a legacy that she would be proud of.

I hope you are at peace, my friend.

The Lisa Casavant Memorial Page

The Boston Mayoral candidates on breed discrimination

Officials from the city of Boston have been fighting the state to reverse the prohibition on breed discriminatory legislation that was passed on the state level last year.

Councilman Rob Consalvo was one of the people pushing Senate Bill 969, along with Mayor Menino.  Councilman Consalvo decided to run for Mayor this year and was endorsed by Mayor Menino.  There were concerns in the animal welfare community that, should Consalvo win, he would continue to try to bring back Boston’s breed discriminatory law.  It is no secret that Mayor Menino had sworn to pursue the issue as long as it took to reinstitute the defunct breed based law, and the Consalvo was supportive of that.

For the Boston Mayoral primary the top two candidates advance to the election. Out of 12 candidates, Consalvo squeezed 8% of the votes in the primary, putting him in the bottom of the list of candidates.

The two men who will be running for Mayor of Boston are against breed discriminatory legislation.

The two candidates who won the primary positions were sent a questionnaire by Massachusetts Voters for Animals.  Below are the answers from each candidate to the question “Do you oppose breed-specific ordinances?”

Candidate Martin Walsh on the subject of breed discriminatory laws: “As a state representative I voted for the prohibition on breed specific dangerous dog laws in question.  I do not think that dog safety legislation should be based on breed, and several members of my team own rescue pit bulls.  My tenant also has a very friendly Rottweiler.”  The complete questionnaire can be read here.

Candidate John Connolly’s position on breed discrimination:  “I don’t support breed specific ordinances. First, it is an ineffective approach to preventing dangerous dog behavior such as dog bites. Breed discriminatory legislation is difficult to enforce because owners are unlikely to comply with regulations and there are problems with identification, often requiring officers to speculate on a dog’s breed based on physical characteristics. Additionally, such ordinances ignore dogs of other breeds that may be dangerous, including dogs whose owners may have trained them to be vicious. We need to find humane ways to ensure dog safety, including public awareness campaigns.”  The complete questionnaire can be read here.

Informed voters are powerful voters.

Riverside County, CA Mandating Spay Neuter on Pit Bulls Public Hearing Set For October 8, 2013

Riverside County supervisors set a public hearing for October 8, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. to further consider the proposed ordinance that would require pit bulls over four months old housed in unincorporated areas of Riverside County to be spayed or neutered. The proposal could then get a public hearing on October 22, 2013 after which the Board can decide to pass, change or take no action.

Supervisor John Travaglione was quoted as saying “We tend to see that many owners of pit bulls are not responsible.” Tavaglione had said in April that he wanted tough regulations targeting owners after learning that an 84-year-old Jurupa Valley man was torn apart by a family pit while sitting in his wheelchair.

The Supervisors voted 5-0 to move the proposed ordinance forward.

The genesis of the ordinance was the Department of Animal Services who told the board that 20% of impounded dogs and 30% of those euthanized at county shelters are pit bulls that “historically have very low redemption or adoption rates.” This was coupled with testimony of victims of pit bull attacks, including Beaumont City Councilwoman Brenda Knight, who stated that the pit bulls have a vicious streak and physical makeup that make them inherently dangerous.

The board was warned by veterinarian Melanie Verreault that mandatory sterilization would lead to less compliance with county dog licensing and registration regulations. “Anti-breed legislation is a bad idea. There are too many people flying under the radar already.”

What constitutes a pit bull under the ordinance? “Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Stafford Terriers “or any mixed breed which contains … any one of these breeds so as to be identifiable as partially of one or more of these breeds.” If the owner disagrees with the identification, the ordinance provides for a “breed determination” which would require the county’s chief veterinarian to examine the dog. The owner then has the right to appeal the finding to a county administrative officer or take the case to court.

Interestingly, California law prohibits breed discriminatory ordinances except those pertaining to spay and neuter programs.

Anyone in the Riverside, CA area should plan on attending the October 8, 2013 meeting to oppose the ordinance and reach out to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and show opposition to the ordinance.

Riverside County Board of Supervisors,,,,

Jay Orr
County Executive Officer
County Administrative Center
4080 Lemon Street – 4th Floor
Riverside, California 92501
(951) 955-1110

Public Information Officer

Ray Smith
County Executive Office
4080 Lemon Street – 4th Floor
Riverside, California 92501
(951) 955-1110

Watertown WI passes first reading of breed discriminatory ordinance

Tuesday night, August 20th, the Watertown Common Council heard a breed discriminatory ordinance that imposes many restrictions pit bulls.  The Council passed the first reading of the proposal.

Under the ordinance “pit bulls” would be declared high risk.  This designation carries with it a long list of restrictions.  Targeted dogs must be on a leash of 4 feet when not at home, no tethering unless a person 16 years or older is present, if the dog is not inside the home it must be confined to a kennel that has a secure top and bottom, or be buried to a depth of 2 feet, as well as complying with zoning regulations, in home restrictions, warning signs, spay/neuter, with no medical exemption, or exemption for registered show dogs, special registration and a $100,000 liability insurance policy and an owner of a high risk dog is not allowed to own any more than one other dog, or own a High Risk Dog in a unit that houses 3 or more families.  The full ordinance can be found in our previous alert on this issue.

The first vote was a narrow one, with the ordinance passing 5-4.  The second vote is the final vote for the ordinance.  Councilman Berg had made a motion to remove all breed discriminatory language from the ordinance but the motion was defeated with 4 in favor and 5 opposed.

A recent story in the outlines some of the ways this ordinance will affect the community.  Local Humane Society volunteer Kristy James says that the shelters do not have the capacity to hold the amount of dogs that will be surrendered.  The expected number of surrendered dogs is anywhere from 50 to 200.  The Humane Society in Watertown does not have the space and neither do any of the surrounding shelters. With the numerous barriers to adoption this ordinance places on potential homes, few people will take in a targeted dog.  The majority will inevitably have to be killed when rescue or re-homing fails.

People with a targeted dog that have more than one other dog will be forced to give up one or more to come into compliance.  Owners that have a dog in a multi-family housing unit will be forced to give up their targeted dogs.  There are no exceptions, no grandfather clauses.  If passed this ordinance will force good law-abiding citizens to give up their dogs.

Reports estimate the showing at the last meeting at around 100 people, with 47 speakers, the majority of which spoke against the ordinance.  Of the 9 or so people speaking in favor of the ordinance, only around 4 live in Watertown.  This is interesting to note because the point is often made when people oppose these laws, if they do not live in the jurisdiction, that they should have no voice.

A detailed report of the meeting, including comments from the various Council members, can be found here.

Residents and locals: If at all possible, please attend the meeting.  It begins at 7PM Tuesday, September 3rd, in the Council chambers at the Municipal Building, 106 Jones Street.  Please try to be there early.  Anyone and everyone who can attend should.

Take moment to reach out the Common Council to factually and respectfully ask them to oppose this breed discriminatory proposal.  Different problems with breed discriminatory laws to outline can be found here.

E-mail addresses for the Aldermen are below, or you can find their phone numbers on the cities website:

Emily McFarland: Phone: 920.988.5874 (this member is not on the website because she is a new member.)
Fred Smith:
Ken Berg:
Steve Zgnoc:
John Coughlin:
Augie Tietz:
Robert Stocks:
James Romlein:

Council members Emily McFarland, Ken Berg, John Coughlin and Jim Romlein voted against the restrictions.  It would be nice to include a note of thanks for their support.