Tag Archives: american staffordshire terrier

Two repeals from Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Two cities voted to repeal their breed discriminatory laws during city council meetings on Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

Juneau, WI:  Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals, one of our partner organizations, reported that the council in Juneau voted unanimously to repeal their law.  The repeal comes after a new resident moved into the town.  The resident, Renada Sharp, had moved into town with a banned type of dog, not knowing at the time that there was a breed ban in place.  When Sharp found out about the ban, she requested that the council repeal the ordinance. The initial request was made a couple of months before the repeal was officially drafted and heard.  This is a pretty typical time line for a repeal that is fully supported by the council.  The local police chief stated to the news media that the ordinance was “unnecessary” because the town already had a breed neutral dangerous dog law in place.  It is interesting that this was passed in the first place.  The law is not an old one in the scheme of breed discriminatory laws.  Most municipalities do better than passing them in the first place, now that we have better science and understanding of the factors that drive dangerous dogs.

Grandview, MO:  We don’t have many details on the driving factors behind this repeal at this time.  Grandview is a relatively small town, and it appears that news media have not picked up on this story.  Brent Toellner, from KC Dog Blog, reported the repeal Tuesday night.  We do know that the repeal, was once again, a unanimous vote.  Grandview’s repeal follows a repeal from Roeland Park, MO, who repealed their breed discriminatory law in the end of January, and an ever growing list from the state in general from last year.

Two unanimous repeals on the same night.

When officials are presented with the latest studies and statistics from their towns, the result is the same.  In some cases, repeal takes more energy and people than in others.  The political climate and whether any officials have an investment of ego in the breed discriminatory law are both huge factors in how seamless a repeal will be.  There is no one formula that will work in every place but the ultimate goal is always safer and more humane communities, and every repeal brings us closer to this goal.

Potential statewide BSL-Mississippi

UPDATED 1/27/2015:  We are hearing that the committee will not be bringing this bill forward to be heard.  It is unclear at this time if this is the action of the full committee or by request of the sponsor.  As of February 3rd, the bill will have passed its deadline for the committee to act and will be officially dead.  At this time we are removing contact information for the bills sponsors but will be monitoring the situation and calendars extremely closely, so that should HB 1261 be scheduled to be heard, we will be able to alert accordingly.  When we have more information or when the bill is either pulled or dead we will update here, as well as issuing a separate alert.

We are not taking the decision to remove contact information lightly and if we did not believe this was credible information, we would not have removed it.

1/25/2015-A state level alert is being issued for the state of Mississippi.

Best Friends Animal Society has discovered that a bill, House Bill 1261, has been introduced that would target dogs resembling pit bulls, including in the definition, American Bulldogs.

The language of the bill:


SECTION 1. The provisions of Sections 1 through 6 shall be known and may be cited as the “Mississippi Regulation of Dangerous Dogs Act.”
SECTION 2. For purposes of Sections 1 through 6 of this act, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed below, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise: Dangerous dog means: 1. Any pit bull dog in a class of dogs that specifically includes the
breeds of American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog, and any other pure bred or mixed that is a combination of these breeds.

The bill creates a list of requirements for owners of dogs designated as restricted and criminal penalties for failure to meet these requirements.  Dogs must be muzzled when off the property, secured when on the property either by a kennel or tether.  The owner must place a sign on the property alerting the presence of the “dangerous dog,” keep their windows closed in a manner that the dog cannot potentially escape and a person convicted of a felony cannot own a “dangerous dog.”

One thing that stands out is the encouragement of tethering in this bill.  The bill specifies that an owner of a “dangerous dog” must  “Leash, chain, tie or tether the dog to an inanimate object other than one within a secure enclosure, such as a tree or building.

The bill gives “law enforcement officers” blanket authority to enter a person’s property in order to check that they are in compliance with the bill.

“In order to determine if there is a violation of this section, a law enforcement officer, at any time, may enter the premises where a dangerous dog is kept, or is believed to be kept, for an on-site inspection of the premises.” (emphasis mine)

This is a costly piece of legislation.  The Best Friends fiscal impact calculator estimates the expense of this piece of legislation at almost $4 and a half MILLION dollars a year.

As more and more states prohibit breed discriminatory laws, this would be a huge step back for community safety, and the rights of individuals, as well as starting a potential landslide of even more stringent forms of breed discrimination, such as bans, across the state.  We saw this effect in Ohio, when their statewide restrictions were in place.

The language of the bill in general tramples on many constitutional rights in many different ways, as well as allows dogs to be taken and killed off-hand under certain circumstances, regardless as to the actual breed or type of the dog.  As usual, we see no thought as to how these dogs will be identified and how people may contest identification, nor is there any understanding for the monumental financial strain this will put on both the state and the dogs owners.

You may view the full text of the bill here:  http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2015/pdf/HB/1200-1299/HB1261IN.pdf

Enumclaw, Washington, considers repeal of breed ban

A change to the Enumclaw, WA, ordinance that bans “pit bulls” is working its way through the city council.

The first vote of the repeal was passed on September 22nd, with only one dissenting vote.  The second and final reading of the repeal is set to be heard on October 13th.

The current ordinance defines “pit bull” as “any dog over the age of six months known by the owner to be a Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bull Terrier shall mean any Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier so as to be identifiable as partially of the breed Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier.

Again, we see the use of the “as an element of its breeding” in the ordinance, which has been successfully challenged in court several times.  Because the implication is that even a dog with 1% of the listed breeds is banned, there is a question as to whether, rationally, a dog with 1% of anything could contain the supposed “inherent” behaviors of that breed.

City administrator Chris Searcy stated that the city repeatedly receives requests from residents to repeal the law, showing support for the repeal, specific to residents.

Residents and locals are encouraged to attend the meeting, to show support for the repeal.  If you cannot attend this meeting, you can contact the city council to politely and factually support the repeal of the current breed ban, by finding your council members information on the cities website.

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

Watertown Wisconsin is moving forward with breed discriminatory law

The Safety Committee has approved a proposal in Watertown WI that would target the owners of dogs deemed to be pit bulls.

The issue has been under discussion for some time and, in spite of opposition from residents and locals, officials are moving forward with the proposal.  The proposal now moves to Common Council to be voted on.  There are two votes, the first of which is on Tuesday.

The ordinance targets the “American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or any dog displaying a majority of physical traits of one or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club (AKC)  or the United Kennel Club (UKC) for any of the above breeds.  The AKC and UKC standards for the above breeds shall be maintained on file by the Municipal Court Clerk and updated annually.”  These dogs will carry a High Risk Dog designation under the proposed ordinance.

The fact that they are using the AKC and UKC standards means that, as usual, the dogs being targeted will be identified visually.  It is important for us to note that every kennel club has openly stated that any use of their standards to implement or enforce a breed discriminatory law is a direct violation of their copyright and a misuse of the standards.

Visual identification is notoriously unreliable.  Multiple studies have been done with people who work in animal fields and not only are visual results far from DNA results, professionals cannot even agree with each other as to what the primary breed of a dog may be.

There is no clarification in the ordinance as to what “substantially conforms” or “majority of physical traits” means in a practical sense.  This unquantifiable language is not unusual and leaves the determination as to what is “pit bull enough” completely open to the discretion of the person making the assessment.

Though the ordinance goes into great length to describe the appeals process for people whose dogs are determined to be dangerous or vicious by behavior, there is no outlining appeal of a High Risk Dog designation.  This lack of information could qualify as a due process violation.

Owners of a dog with a High Risk designation must follow a long list of requirements.  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.

An interesting part of the ordinance is the confinement requirements for inside the home.  The ordinance states that, “No “high risk dog” or “vicious dog” may be kept in a house, building or other structure when the windows are open or when screen windows or screen doors fail to prevent such dog from exiting the house, building or other structure.”  The language of this portion suggests that it would be illegal for an owner of a “high risk dog” to open their windows on a nice day.

Another part that is troublesome is the multi-family dwelling portion.  This prohibits a High Risk Dog from living in a place that is a “triplex or larger.” There is no grandfather clause that would allow people who have a high risk dog to keep their dogs if they live in a restricted property.

A grandfather clause is supposedly in the process of being drafted but, according to officials, it would be for a limited time period.  This means that a person with a High Risk Dog that has more than one other dog must re-home the “extra dog” or a person in a multi-family dwelling must re-home their dog or move in a certain period of time.  The hardship that this places on people is being met with a callousness that is a bit surprising.

Watertown’s full proposed ordinance can be viewed here.

The ordinance goes to the first Common Council vote on Tuesday, August 20th.

It is absolutely imperative that people show up to oppose this ordinance.  There was some behind the scenes chatter that the breed based language would be stricken but that has not proven to be the case.  A strong in person showing is needed to speak out against this.

Residents and locals: If at all possible, please attend the meeting.  It begins at 7PM.  Please try to be there early.

If you cannot attend the meeting, please take  moment to reach out the Common Council and factually and respectfully ask them to oppose this breed discriminatory proposals.

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

Emily McFarland: emily.cahoon@yahoo.com Phone: 920.988.5874 (this member is not on the website because she is a new member.)
Fred Smith: wccpastor@charter.net
Ken Berg: kbergo1@jhrellc.com
Steve Zgnoc: zgonc@charter.net
John Coughlin: johnjcoughlin10@yahoo.com
Augie Tietz: raugie@att.net
Robert Stocks: sarah.stocks@att.net
James Romlein: jwr@R545.us

Livingston County Kentucky passes multi breed restrictions

The Livingston County Kentucky Fiscal Court has passed an ordinance that targets several different breeds of dogs and their mixes at their last meeting, despite opposition from residents.

In a bold display, officials cut off public comment at the vote.  A resident was presenting testimony about the ordinances violation of the AKC and UKC’s copyright of their breed standards, when officials cut off his comments and proceeded directly to the vote.

The ordinance relies on the breed standards from these two kennel clubs for enforcement of a “licensing” provision for American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers.  These standards are on file in the County Judges office, as well as Animal Control offices.  All the kennel clubs have been very clear that any use of their breed standards to enforce a breed discriminatory law is a direct and flagrant violation of the copyright. Some have gone so far as to testify in court on this.

Registered show dogs are exempted from this ordinance so, once again, we have a situation where the mixed breed dogs are being targeted but dogs that are officially one of the targeted breeds, are not.  The language is confused, including both the phrases “substantially conforms to” and “primarily of the breed” with no clarification as to what either of these standards are.

The ordinance appears to be a licensing ordinance on its face but when examined more closely it reveals itself to be the standard breed discriminatory restrictions.  In order to “license” a restricted dog, residents must meet multiple requirements.  Proof of vaccines, sterilization, confinement, personal contact information for the owner and the owner of a restricted dog will have to provide proof of $50,000 in liability insurance.

Officials were going to pass this no matter what.  This is clear from the comments of those present at the meeting and the way officials closed the discussion when it was pointed out they would be breaking the law to enforce their law.

County wide ordinances are expensive to enforce.  Residents will no doubt see a decrease in enforcement of effective animal control laws to be able to have the time and money to enforce a breed discriminatory law, that will clog shelters, dry up resources and penalize responsible owners.

It is always said by officials that irresponsible owners will be the ones to be targeted but this is never the case.  Blanket regulations for only certain segments of the population do not effectively create a safer community.  Breed discriminatory ordinances are over and under inclusive.

Viewing the report on incidents for restricted dogs raises a more serious question as to what exactly the basis is for this action.  There are a very limited number of incidents by the targeted population of dogs. In Livingston County’s letter to justify their breed discriminatory law, officials try to show they have an issue with targeted dogs.  There is a lot wrong with this letter.

The first thing is that based on the population of Livingston County and the most concrete time frame given in it of 2 years, this letter shows that there is a .0003% change of having being bitten by one of the targeted types of dogs.  Once we begin to break these down by the dogs actual breeds, or supposed breeds, the odds reduce.  The lack of a specific time frame, however, puts these odds at even less than that.  The text says that these bites occurred over the last “2 years (plus).”  The “plus” is undefined since there is no specific date span given.  This one word pulls into question all of the numbers presented.

The last section reads, “These Numbers do not reflect attacks not reported (we are confident that number would double these as we are personally aware of many that were not reported to animal control)

It is completely erroneous for officials to include that they have heard of more attacks but they were not reported. Officials are basing their opinions and passage of this ordinance on completely unsubstantiated claims, a kind of dog attack game of telephone.  It seems that officials were very much aware that the numbers they presented to do not speak to rampant dog related issues, rather a specified owner related one and were trying to mitigate the impression of the actual verifiable statistics.

Also noticeably absent are the bite reports of all other dogs and the total numbers of reported bites in the community, as well as the estimated population of targeted dogs in the community.  Cherry picked statistics are not uncommon in these cases, but they are always disappointing.

The biggest issue seems to be unattended dogs.  A very simple fix for this is to pass a breed neutral containment law.  No dogs should be in the community unattended, regardless of breed.

Owners have 60 days to comply or their dogs will be confiscated and they will be fined.

Livingston’s complete ordinance can be viewed here.

Livingston County Kentucky seeks breed discriminatory law

The Livingston County Kentucky Fiscal Court is in the process of trying to enact a dangerous dog law that would target several different dog breeds.

Some officials have stated that they are trying to hold owners more accountable for their dogs by targeting these breeds, while others say they are being targeted because the listed breeds are responsible for all the attacks in the county.

The ordinance currently targets American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers.

There are several ways a dog can be determined to be restricted.  One way is if either parent is registered as one of the listed breeds. A second way is if an owner “registers, defines, admits, or otherwise identifies the dog as being of a restricted breed.” The last would be certification by a licensed veterinarian.  Though the ordinance does not explicitly say this, certification by a veterinarian would be at the behest of animal control.  It is often the case that animal control tries to get vets to identify dogs to be targeted by laws like this. These ID’s are done visually under most circumstances.  The vet must certify that the dog is “primarily” one of the targeted breeds.  What percentage  “primarily” means is not specified.  The definitions are confused.  The wording of the proposal mentions both phrases “primarily of the breed” and “substantially conforms to” with no clarification as to what either of these mean for practical application of the ordinance.

They are using both the UKC (United Kennel Club) and AKC (American Kennel Club) standards to try to define and enforce this.  Both kennel clubs are mentioned in the definition portion of the ordinance.  Both the UKC and the AKC have made statements that using their breed standards for the enforcement of a breed discriminatory law is a violation of their copyright.

The ordinance calls for special registration that comes with a list of requirements that are standard to any licensing law.  Proof of vaccines, sterilization and personal contact information for the owner.  However, the owner of a restricted dog will have to provide proof of $50,000 in liability insurance.

However, this is not a license, it is an application process.  Officials will review the “application” to determine if the person is allowed to keep their dog.  This includes a criminal background check for an owner of a targeted dog.  There is some question as to the constitutionality of something like this.  If the application is denied, the dog will be taken and killed.  There is no clause saying the dog can be rehomed either inside or outside the county.  It explicitly says the dog will be killed.  In cases where a person is granted the “right” to own a restricted dog and is found to be in violation, they will have a very limited amount of time to remove the dog from the county.

We asked Attorney Fred Kray, of Pit Bulletin Legal News, to examine the ordinance to give some perspective about the due process involved in the ordinance as written. According to Mr. Kray, “the appellate process is flawed. While they term it a review – it is written, and there is no trial, cross examination, subpoena of witnesses or burden of proof as required by Mansour v. King. There is nothing that requires the government to come forward to prove their case, and thus the way it is worded puts the burden of going forward on the owner. They then put the burden of proof on the owner as well to justify the license. Because they are wording everything as a license, one might get the impression that it is a licensing procedure only. However, they are taking your property and it triggers the fourth amendment. In my opinion, due process is not met in the licensing ‘appeal’ which is really the first tier fact finding hearing.”  This is problematic because of the case mentioned.  Mansour v. King deals with due process in dangerous dog cases and is very clear about the standards and rules for the case, appeals and keeping of records involved.

Livingston’s complete proposed ordinance

Residents have been working very hard to try to sway officials away from a breed discriminatory ordinance.  They have been petitioning locally and providing information to officials.  Remember, this is a  County wide ordinance, so anyone who lives in an unincorporated part of the county would be effected by its passage.

This should be heard on the 23rd of July beginning at 5pm.  If anyone in the area can attend please do so.  Meetings are held at the County Library/Office building in Smithland KY.

Please reach out and respectfully offer opposition and alternatives to the breed discriminatory ordinance.  There is a contact form on the County website or you may e-mail the Magistrates directly with the information provided below.

Livingston County Executive Judge  Chris Lasher:  clasher@livingstonco.ky.gov

County Magistrates:
Terry Stringer: tstringer@livingstonco.ky.gov
Franklin Walker: fwalker@livingstonco.ky.gov
Jimmy Ferrell: bferrell@livingstonco.ky.gov
Marvin Buford: mbuford@livingstonco.ky.gov