Tag Archives: ban

Georgia bill to prohibit breed discriminatory laws moves forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Rhode Island bill would allow towns to reinstate breed discriminatory laws

Officials in Pawtucket, Rhode Island are once again trying to make it so they are allowed to retain their breed ban.

The ban was nullified by the recently passed state law prohibiting breed discriminatory laws.  When the state law was passed, officials claimed the law did not nullify existing ordinances.  Pawtucket was then sued by the Defenders of Animals and Albert Alix.  A judge found that Pawtucket did not have the right to retain the ban and the state law supersedes all existing breed discriminatory laws.  Pawtucket officials had time to appeal this decision.  They did not appeal.

Instead, they are attempting to get their breed ban back legislatively.

A bill, H 5800, would amend the state’s animal control law that prohibits breed discriminatory laws.  The amendment would allow cities that had such a law before July 15, 2013, to keep them intact.

6 (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, any rule, regulation 7 or ordinance specific to any breed of dog or cat enacted in any city or town prior to July 15, 2013, 8 shall remain in full force and effect until repealed by the appropriate officials of the city or town.

This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Municipal Government and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing date.

Pawtucket had their chance when the bill was being heard and again, during the court case.  The courts have ruled and this bill is a last-ditch attempt at being able to defy the order the judge.

This would not only affect Pawtucket, but would also allow any other town to re-instate their breed discriminatory law.

RHODE ISLAND RESIDENTS:

Reach out to the committee and respectfully ask that they do not support this bill.

The Defenders of Animals are collecting a legal paper petition in opposition to this bill.  Defenders of Animals will be at the Pet Supplies Plus at 171 Sockanosset Cross Rd Cranston, RI 02920 on Sunday March 8, 2015, between 12 Noon and 4 PM collecting signatures.  People in the area who can attend to sign should do so.

It is imperative that you reach out now, so this bill does not move forward.

The committee contact information is as follows:

 Representative Mia A. Ackerman: rep-ackerman@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Gregg Amore: rep-amore@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Jean-Phillipe Barros: rep-barros@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative David A. Bennett: rep-bennett@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Gregory J. Costantino: rep-costantino@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative David A. Coughlin, Jr.: rep-coughlin@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Robert E. Craven, Sr.: rep-craven@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Blake A. Filippi: rep-filippi@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Kathleen A. Fogarty: rep-fogarty@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Joy Hearn: rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Raymond H. Johnston, Jr.: rep-johnston@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Charlene Lima: rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Shelby Maldonado: rep-maldonado@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Kenneth A. Marshall:  rep-marshall@rilin.state.ri.us

 Representative Justin Price:  rep-price@rilin.state.ri.us

Salina, Kansas, family fights for their dogs

A single working mother in Salina, Kansas, is in trouble with the city after her two dogs got escaped the yard and were picked up by animal control.

Jo Ann Morgan has two dogs that officials claim fall under the breed ban that Salina maintains.  Morgan stated that she sees “pit bulls” everyday in the community and had been unaware of the ban until obtaining her first dog.

The first dog, Celeste, was obtained not knowing there was a ban in place.  When the family asked a friend about a good vet in town, they then became aware of the ban.  Soon after, the second dog, Maicee, came to the family because of the ban.  The dog was owned by a boyfriend and girlfriend who had domestic issues.  At one point the girlfriend had threatened to call animal control on the dog for being a banned type as revenge.  The dog was taken in by Morgan, in what was supposed to be a temporary situation.

The dogs escaped the yard when the gate to their yard was left open after a trash pick up.  It was not noticed the gate was left open until the next morning, when the dogs were let out as the family got ready for their day.  A few minutes after they got out, on the morning of October 23rd, Morgan discovered the yard was empty and immediately began looking for the dogs.

They were picked up by animal control in a nearby parking lot.  It was later discovered, on a lost pets page for the community, that someone had spotted the dogs and was urging people to pick them up before animal control got them.

After searching for sometime, Morgan contacted the shelter, where she was told the dogs cannot be released because they are banned and that she would be charged.  Morgan also told that if she signed over the rights to Celeste and Maicee to the shelter, the prosecutor would drop the charges for harboring dangerous dogs.  Salina law declares “pit bulls” dangerous by appearance only, so any person caught with a banned type is charged with harboring a dangerous dog.  Celeste and Maicee had not harmed anyone.  Morgan asked if the dogs would be killed if signed over and was told that is the case.  She refused to sign over the dogs and was given a summons for the possession of two dangerous dogs.

Celeste and Maicee are currently being held as evidence and there are multiple criminal charges against Morgan.  Though Morgan is seeking legal representation, it is an expensive proposition for a case of this nature.

Salina has a bad track record with their handling of these sorts of cases.  Few, if any, confiscated dogs make it out of the shelter alive.  There was the story of Lucey, from 2010, who was taken as a banned dog and released after a DNA test showed she was a pure through and through mixed breed.  Officials came back on that family, saying the DNA tests are not reliable after the vet responsible for breed identification, Dr. Atherton, got a DNA test on his own dog and didn’t like the results.

Dr. Atherton is notorious for bad identification practices, and has, in at least one case, identified a pure breed dog (not a banned breed) as banned because of the dog’s teeth structure.

Morgan would love to get Celeste and Maicee back home but the odds of that are extremely slim.  The best hope right now is for the dogs to be placed in rescue.  When asked about it, Morgan was told that they do not release “pit bulls” to residents of other towns because of the “legal liability” of doing so.

The council is not open to discussing the issue.  Morgan attended a meeting and was told she would need to make a formal paper petition of registered voters and file specific forms in order for the council to consider the issue.

At this time, there is a Christmas card campaign for Celeste and Maicee, as well as one other confiscated dog.  The families are asking for cards to be sent, individually, to Celeste Morgan, Maicee Morgan and Remi Phillips, care of Salina Animal Shelter, 329 North 2nd Street, Salina, KS, 67401.  The families are asking that the messages in the cards be ones of support only and not directed at shelter staff in anyway.  The idea behind the campaign is to subtly let people know that the dogs are cared about without engaging in any animosity or vitriol.

For those who want to help more, there is a fundraiser being held to cover legal fees.  The odds that there will be a fair trial in municipal court are slim.  Appeals are expensive and funds must be raised in order for there to be any chance of Celeste and Maicee being about to get out of the shelter alive.

 

Moreauville, LA, passes breed ban: Demands all current dogs be removed

UPDATED INFORMATION HERE:  stopbsl.org/2014/11/24/moreauville-la-update-officials-pledge-to-suspend-enforcement-of-ban

On October 13th the small town of Moreauville, Louisiana, passed a ban on pit bull type dogs and Rottweilers.

The city has a little over 900 residents and no online presence.

Officials claim that they passed the ban at the request of  several residents.  These residents approached the council saying that they were unable to walk in certain neighborhoods because “these dogs were basically running along town.”  Alderman Penn Lemoine said the ordinance was enacted to “appease” these residents.

Officials say that there have been attacks but none have been documented.  This begs the question, what sort of animal control is in place, or was in place, before the ban?  Was it being enforced?  At the very least, it is clear that any laws that were in place were not being enforced.  We are attempting to get a copy of any pertinent legislation for review, but at this time, it is unclear if there are any laws on the books, or if there is an animal control agent tasked with enforcement.

The law does not have a grandfather clause.  This means that every single dog that matches the targeted type is at risk of being confiscated and killed.  A letter was sent out to residents saying that they must get rid of their dogs by December 1st or they will be confiscated and taken to a “veterinary clinic for further disposition.”

letter to remove dogs moreauville la

According to a local report, when the police chief was asked what would happen if dogs are not turned over voluntarily, the resident questioning the chief was told that, “They would come and get the dog and the dog would be disposed of and we would be fined.”

When pressed to clarify what “disposition” meant, Alderman Penn Lemoine refused, saying, “I’d rather not elaborate on that.”  Apparently, city officials are fine with passing a law that takes away and kills people’s dogs because of the way they look, but they are not comfortable talking about it publicly.

Something the Pro-BSL lobby claims all the time is that a ban doesn’t mean that dogs are taken away from their homes and killed.  They claim that these are scare tactics used by “pit bull advocates.”  They claim that all current owned dogs are allowed to live out the rest of their lives under a ban and that it is just new dogs that are not allowed.  We know from many places that this is not true, and this letter to owners of pit bulls and Rottweilers is just more evidence of that.  We at StopBSL would like a statement from BSL proponents, clarifying what exactly they mean, in the face of this evidence, that it is only a “scare tactic.”

Families with targeted dogs are seeking support to be able to keep their dogs.  There is a question as to the legality of taking property that was obtained legally at the time of the legislations passage (in this case dogs are considered property) and “disposing” of it.  There are also questions about the legality of the ordinance in general.  Preliminary review from experts in the field of dangerous dog law  point to numerous constitutional and due process issues in the ban.

Officials are claiming that if there is enough of an outcry, they might revisit the issue on the December 8th meeting.  This is completely insufficient.  The deadline for the targeted dogs is a week before the next meeting.

RESIDENTS AND LOCALS:  It is incredibly important that members of the council hear your voices.  The passage of the ban was kept relatively quiet until now.  It is important that people are heard but all communication must be professional, respectful and factual.  We know this is an emotional issue, but anger and vitriol achieves nothing except to alienate officials in a time when people need their voices to be heard the most.  Offer alternatives, such as containment laws and point out the many failures of breed discriminatory laws.

Fosters are being lined up so that the targeted dogs can have a safe place to go, if needed, while this issue is resolved.  If you are local and outside the city limits of Moreauville, and can foster, please send a message to www.facebook.com/RepealBSLMoreauville.

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.

Ottawa Kansas resident asks council to repeal breed ban

Ottawa resident Jason Berve is asking the city to consider repealing its ban on pit bulls.

Monday night he approached the commission, with a group of supporters which filled the room almost to capacity.  This is the third time he has been in front of the commission on this issue.

“I’m trying to get rid of breed-specific legislation to make Ottawa safer with animal laws,” Berve said in a recent article. “When you focus on just one breed, you forget about all the other dangerous dogs that are out there.”

When Berve moved to Ottawa, he had a targeted dog.  The dog lives with his parents now, to avoid any potential issues from the ban.  In the same interview Berve said, “We would like the law to be changed so we don’t have to move out of Ottawa so we can get our dog back.”

The City Commissioners have agreed to hear the public’s comments on lifting or changing the ban and plans to hold a public hearing at its first January on the 8th.

The ban was passed in 1987.   Pit bull is defined under the ordinance as Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, dogs with “the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly” of those breeds and “Dogs of mixed breeds or of other breeds than those listed in this section, which breed or mixed breed is known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers.”

Residents and locals should plan to attend the meeting to offer good effective common sense alternatives, and to show support for a repeal.  You can find your Commissioner to communicate directly on the cities website if you cannot attend the meeting.

Thank you Debbie, for your help and fact checking on this issue.