Tag Archives: bluefield west virginia bsl

Bluefield WV election: Breed ban and the candidates

Bluefield West Virginia passed a ban on dogs deemed to be pit bulls recently.  The passage of this law was a travesty to the community. There was no public comment allowed on the date of the first vote and on the date of passage officials allowed comment after the vote.

Residents were not allowed to be heard then but there is an opportunity for them to be heard now.

The board is up for re-election. A news article delves into the candidates, the incumbents and their positions on the ban.  The whole article from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph can be viewed here so residents can get a better idea of where the candidates stand on other issues.

A brief over view of positions:

Incumbents: All of the current board members voted for the ban. Board members Whalen, Brammer and Sternloff were interviewed by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. All three stand by the decision to institute the ban.

Opposition: All non-incumbents running for office oppose the ban. Some are against breed discriminatory laws completely, some want to go back to the 2008 law which imposed restrictions on dogs deemed to be pit bulls.

District break down based on positions: Those in favor of the ban are in italics

District one: Incumbent Mary Brammer is being opposed by Rev. Garry D. Moore Sr. and Barbara Thompson Smith. Rev. Moore’s son has a targeted dog, so the issue is a personal one for him. While he is not completely against a breed discriminatory law he is against the ban. Barbara Smith stated she was against breed discrimination completely.

District two: Incumbent Linda Whalen is being challenged by Steven P. Coleman and Ellen Peters Light.  Coleman is against the ban but it is unclear if he would be for a complete repeal. He references the 2008 law which placed restrictions on the dogs. Ellen Light has not made any specific statement against the ban but alludes to opposition.

District three: Michael Gibson is running unopposed.  As a lawyer, he recognizes the legal problems with it and opposes the ban but not the previous law.

2 at large seats: Incumbent Pete Sternloff, Thomas Cole, Charles McGonagle,  Willie C. Hunt and Richard Lee Dillon. Cole and McGonagle are against the ban but support the 2008 restrictions. Hunt was not available to be interviewed. Dillon expressed strong opposition to the ban saying he would immediately vote to overturn it.

Bluefield West Virginia passes ban

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. 

Bluefield West Virginia passes first reading of a breed ban

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
(304) 327-2401

Mayor Linda Whalen

Director Mary Frances Brammer

Director Deb Sarver

Director Pete Sternloff

Director Tom Blevins

Bluefield West Virginia is considering a ban on pit bull type dogs

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

Deb Sarver

Pete Sternloff

Tom Blevins

Thank you Hannah for the heads up.