Tag Archives: aldermen

Platteville, WI discussing possible pit bull ban

Tuesday night, the Plateville common council discussed changes to their dangerous dog laws.

Among the possible changes discussed is a ban on “pit bulls.”

The proposal would make it

 “unlawful to own, harbor or keep any animal which:…are pure bred commonly known as put bull, pit bull dog, or pit bull terrier and/or includes a mixed breed of any of the following:…
A.  the pit bull terrier breed of dog
B.  the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dog
C.  the American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dog
D.  the American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog”

 

There is nothing that says how this would be implemented, how dogs will be identified or how a person can contest the determination of being banned.  In fact, there is no due process at all.

Also, the proposal is listed as having no fiscal impact and requiring no budget increase.  The Best Friends Animal Society fiscal impact calculator lists the estimated annual cost at over $16,000.  This calculator has been tested against actual cost of implementation in places with breed discriminatory laws and has been shown repeatedly to be extremely accurate.

The discussion comes after an attack on a Chihuahua by two dogs identified as  pit bulls.  The dogs owner was not cited, though the dogs seem to have been removed from the community at this time.

The idea to ban “pit bulls” from Platteville was raised by Alderman Mike Denn.  Whether this is at the request of the resident whose dog was attacked is unknown.

At the meeting this Tuesday, several people signed up to speak in opposition to a breed discriminatory law.

The proposed changes also extend police power in an alarming way.  It would allow officers to kill a dog that has been found roaming if they determine the dog is of “vicious character.”  There is no information about due process or how this “vicious character” is going to be determined.

There is some potential good in the proposal.  It would outline the proper care of animals and outlaw mistreatment of dogs to be made illegal.  It would prevent people from keeping dogs without shelter or with inadequate shelter.  It also clarifies some of the breed neutral dangerous dog language.  This is very positive but there are many flaws in the proposal.

The proposal has been sent to the Freudenreich Animal Care Trust Fund Committee for further study.

There is no denying that there is an issue with loose dogs.  How prevalent this issue is, is unclear.  Stepped up enforcement of existing ordinances, and actually legally holding people responsible for the actions of their dogs would be one place to start.  The owners of the dogs that are responsible for any attack should be held responsible in some way, either criminally or civilly, with due process protections.  Further, people who are not managing their dogs properly in the community should be held responsible before an incident even happens.  Stringent enforcement of leash laws, licensing (if the town does so) and other basic breed neutral ways go a long way to preventing issues in the first place. It is very likely that this was not the first time these particular dogs were out loose and there should never be a second time.

Breed discriminatory laws invariably contain a wealth of due process and constitutional violations by their very nature and are expensive and difficult to enforce.  More and more, we are seeing people stepping up to challenge them legally and the breed discriminatory laws being over turned.  More pertinent, is that more and more towns are repealing their old breed discriminatory laws because they have found them to be completely ineffective in making the community safer.

Platteville residents and others in the community are encouraged to respectfully reach out to officials to oppose the implementation of any breed discriminatory law.  Residents and locals should also reach out to Wisconsin Voters for Companions Animals, one of our partner organizations, if they are looking for a way to get involved but aren’t sure were to begin.  They can be contacted via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wivoters or via e-mail  wivotersforcompanionanimals@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.

 

Darlington WI repeals breed discriminatory ordinance

At the May 7th meeting of the Darlington Common Council, officials heard a motion to repeal the breed discriminatory portion of the city code.

The change was requested by a resident, Jeanne Bailey, who had moved to town and was denied registration for her dog.  Though she had the dog for years without incident because the law in Darlington focuses on the appearance of the dog and not its behavior, this dog would have been classified as vicious. The dog was considered a pit bull and under the law at the time pit bulls were declared vicious by default.  The old code defined vicious dogs, in part, as:

“4. Any pit bull dog.
 
(b) Pit Bull Dog.
 
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 subpars. 1. to 4. above whose breed or mixed breed is commonly known as pit bull, pit bull dog or pit bull terrier.”
A recent article outlines the repeal very briefly. Bailey approached the chief of police, Jason King, who advised her to bring the matter to the Common Council. King stated he had been approached several times in the recent years requesting a change to the law but no one had ever followed through with bringing the matter before the Common Council until now.  The most city officials seem to have a keen understanding of what the problems were with the old ordinance.  Alderman Jon Sonsalla was quoted, at the meeting, saying, “You want to go after the behavior, not the breed.”
The repeal was passed, making Darlington officially a breed neutral community.

Yazoo, MS: Alderman wants pit bull ban

REMINDER:  Yazoo, MS Board of Alderman will meet today at 2:00 PM

Messages have been left at Mayor Straughter’s office in attempt to confirm if the  Board of Alderman would discuss a potential ban today, however we have not received that confirmation.

If you are in the area of Yazoo, MS, please attend today’s meeting, it offers the opportunity to provide the Board with the requested information concerning breed bans, their successes and failures, and to provide them with alternatives that provide better community safety.

______________________________________________________

Alderman Aubrey Brent says “everyone knows” that pit bulls’ jaws lock.

City Hall, 128 East Jefferson Street, Yazoo City, MS  39194
Telephone:  662-746-3211
Fax:  662-746-6506
ycmayor@cableone.net
(The city website does not appear to reflect the most recent Aldermen.)

Board meetings are held the second and fourth Monday each month at 2:00 p.m.  They will take place at the Yazoo City Police Department in the board room.

Yazoo City Aldermen Differ on Pit Bull Ban

Reported by: Dustin Barnes
Email: dustinbarnes@jxntv.com
Last Update: 11/17 5:42 pm

[…] That’s why he [Alderman Aubrey Brent] would like a ban on them.[…]

“Everyone knows that when a pit bites down on you, his jaws are made in such a way as to they lock,” said Brent.[…]

No word yet on when — or even if — aldermen will pass a ban.

Full article retrieved 11/23/10 from http://www.my601.com/news/local/story/Yazoo-City-pit-bulls/244UoU-d_0mF_mYlne73ZQ.cspx

Yazoo, MS: Alderman wants pit bull ban

Readers may recall from 2010 that Yazoo City Aldermen discussed altering it’s Animal Control Ordinance concerning vicious animals.  Alderman Aubry Brent has been targeting pit bulls specifically for sometime, but without support.

A few months ago a petition was submitted to the Board concerning the presence of pit bulls in the community.  Again no action was taken by the City.

According to City Attorney Sarah O’Reilly-Evans the matter is now under review.  A report of other breed specific actions in neighboring MS cities is being compiled to submit to the Board for their review.

As was originally reported below in 2010, Board meetings are held the second and fourth Monday each month at 2:00 P.M.  at eh Yazoo city Police Department in the board room.  We encourage those that are in the area to attend the meetings.

Please send your POLITE, RESPECTFUL and INFORMATIVE letters in opposition to breed specific legislation to the Yazoo City Officials via USPS to:

City Hall
128 East Jefferson Street
Yazoo City, MS  39194

You may contact Mayor McArthur Straughter by telephone:  662-746-3211
Fax:  662-746-6506
ycmayor@yazoocityms.us

City Clerk Shirley Knight
sknight@yazoocityms.us

City Attorney Sarah O’Reilly-Evans
oevanslaw@gmail.com

__________________________________________________

Alderman Aubrey Brent says “everyone knows” that pit bulls’ jaws lock.

City Hall, 128 East Jefferson Street, Yazoo City, MS  39194
Telephone:  662-746-3211
Fax:  662-746-6506
ycmayor@cableone.net
(The city website does not appear to reflect the most recent Aldermen.)

Board meetings are held the second and fourth Monday each month at 2:00 p.m.  They will take place at the Yazoo City Police Department in the board room.

Yazoo City Aldermen Differ on Pit Bull Ban

Reported by: Dustin Barnes
Email: dustinbarnes@jxntv.com
Last Update: 11/17 5:42 pm

[…] That’s why he [Alderman Aubrey Brent] would like a ban on them.[…]

“Everyone knows that when a pit bites down on you, his jaws are made in such a way as to they lock,” said Brent.[…]

No word yet on when — or even if — aldermen will pass a ban.

Full article retrieved 11/23/10 from http://www.my601.com/news/local/story/Yazoo-City-pit-bulls/244UoU-d_0mF_mYlne73ZQ.cspx

Chicago, IL reminder: Council meeting, Jan 18 (possible BSL)

Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti has said that he intends to introduce a resolution at the Jan 18 city council meeting, to explore ways to make pet owners more responsible for their pets. Although Fioretti initially suggested that he would support a “pit bull” ban or some other kind of breed-specific law, he has since publicly distanced himself from BSL, and has said that he wants to look at breed-neutral measures.

However, at least one other alderman, George Cardenas, has stated that he intends to pursue breed-specific restrictions or a ban on “pit bulls.”

Residents and locals, please attend the next council meeting, at which Alderman Fioretti intends to introduce a resolution to review current dog ordinances: January 18, 10:00 AM, City Council Chambers, City Hall, Chicago. Whether Fioretti introduces a resolution or not, this is an opportunity for locals to express their opinions about responsible dog ownership, current dog laws, and BSL, and to gauge the council’s intentions regarding BSL.

Contact your alderman here and let him or her know where you stand on breed-specific laws and breed-neutral dog ownership laws: http://chicago.legistar.com/People.aspx
Here is a cut-and-paste list of all email addresses for aldermen (thanks to Kat for compiling it)—please note not all aldermen have published email addresses.
ward45@cityofchicago.org, caustin@cityofchicago.org, jbalcer@cityofchicago.org, ward09@cityofchicago.org, ward21@cityofchicago.org, eburke@cityofchicago.org, wburnett@cityofchicago.org, ward04@cityofchicago.org, info@james46.org, ward12@cityofchicago.org, Willie.Cochran@cityofchicago.org, ward35@cityofchicago.org, Pat.Dowell@cityofchicago.org, jason.ervin@cityofchicago.org, Robert.Fioretti@cityofchicago.org, Toni.Foulkes@cityofchicago.org, lhairston@cityofchicago.org, mharris@cityofchicago.org, ward07@cityofchicago.org, ward18@cityofchicago.org, mlaurino@cityofchicago.org, rmell@cityofchicago.org, emitts@cityofchicago.org, ward49@cityofchicago.org, ward01@cityofchicago.org, Ward22@cityofchicago.org, pjoconnor@cityofchicago.org, harry@48thward.org, info@chicago47.org, jpope@cityofchicago.org, ward30@cityofchicago.org, Brendan.Reilly@cityofchicago.org, service@6thwardchicago.com, info@50thwardchicago.com, yourvoice@ward43.org, info@dannysolis.org, rsuarez@cityofchicago.org, lrthomas@cityofchicago.org, JoAnn.Thompson@cityofchicago.org, ttunney@cityofchicago.org, info@ward32.org, mzalewski@cityofchicago.org

All alerts for Chicago: http://stopbsl.com/?s=chicago