Initially, reports from Bluefield officials were that people where not complying with the breed discriminatory restrictions that were already in place. Due to the media coverage of the ban, many residents have since stepped up and said that they were unaware of any restrictions but they went to register their dogs now that they were aware of the law. At last count Bluefield’s “pit bull registration” was up from 8 to over 45.
People were complying with the law and yet officials voted to institute a ban.
Tonight, officials ignored the voices of their constituents, the majority of which all opposed the changes. Local media and opinions pieces were all soundly against the changes.
If officials handle implementation and enforcement of the ban the way they did their restrictions, the situation will quickly present itself that someone moves into town with a targeted dog that has no knowledge of the law, or has a dog they don’t think is of type. Problems with enforcement can be expected immediately. The wasted money, difficulty of enforcement and destruction of innocent dogs is not something to be taken lightly and will affect every resident of Bluefield.
People who currently have a targeted dog have 10 days to register their dogs or they will be confiscated and the owner cited.
At Tuesday nights board of directors meeting, Bluefield West Virginia officials passed the first reading of a new ordinance that would prohibit people from owning dogs deemed to be pit bull type dogs. Bluefield already has restrictions for owners that include a special registration with the city.
Officials in Bluefield had cited a lack of compliance with the “pit bull” restrictions as the reason they are seeking the ban. This now appears to not be the case. With the recent publicity behind the proposed ban, residents are aware that there are special requirements for pit bull type dogs and have been going out and registering their dogs to come into compliance with the law. Many residents have said that they did not know there were restrictions but now that they know, they are doing what is needed by law. The number of registered dogs has jumped from around 5 to over 30, but officials are proceeding with a ban despite growing compliance within the community. This number would no doubt continue to grow as more and more people become aware of what is required of them.
This highlights one of the issues with breed discriminatory laws. Often people are unaware of the restrictions, until their dog is confiscated because town officials pass the law, then never do any awareness campaigns to let people know that there are special restrictions for certain dogs. When the law is breed neutral it is easier to get compliance because there is no sliding scale of expected owner responsibilities. Everyone is held to the same standards, as they should be. A reckless dog owner is a danger to the community no matter what shape their dog is.
Bluefield residents and locals: Please continue to reach out respectfully and factually to oppose a ban. Instituting a ban will only cost tax payers, be just as difficult to enforce as the current restriction and penalize responsible owners while those who break the laws will continue to do so.
City of Bluefield
200 Rogers St
Bluefield, WV 24701
Mayor Linda Whalen
Director Mary Frances Brammer
Director Deb Sarver
Director Pete Sternloff
Director Tom Blevins
Bluefield West Virginia is considering instituting a pit bull ban. They have had restrictions on pit bull type dogs since 2008 and cite a lack of compliance with the restrictions as the reason they are pursuing a ban. The city officials claim that the restrictions have not increased public safety. Breed specific laws have never been shown to increase public safety, so it is no wonder that they are still experiencing issues. Whenever money is taken away from tackling the root of dangerous dogs, the owners, public safety suffers. Instituting a ban would be costly to the tax payers and just as ineffective as the current restrictions.
The City Attorney is in the process of drafting the ordinance and it is slated to be on the agenda for the March 26th meeting.
Please reach out to the city officials with your factual, respectful opposition to a ban. Offer breed neutral alternatives as a better path to a safer and more humane community.
The city website can be found here.
Contact information can be found below:
Mayor Linda Whalen
Mary Frances Brammer
Thank you Hannah for the heads up.