Tag Archives: breed discriminatory legislation

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.

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Pawtucket Rhode Island loses battle to keep ban

When Rhode Island legislators passed a law that prohibits municipalities from enacting any breed discriminatory laws, Pawtucket officials balked.  They claimed that the law only addressed future laws, and did not apply to them because Pawtucket’s breed ban was in effect before the passage of the state law.  As a result, they continued to enforce the ban after the state law had been passed.

A man by the name of Albert Alix stepped up to take on Pawtucket’s ban.   Alix was cited under the ban after his dog, Chubs, escaped his yard.  There was no bite incident.

In late 2013, a case was filed in court, challenging Pawtucket’s ban, with The Defenders of Animals and Alix as co-plaintiffs.  The city maintained the position that they were allowed to keep their ban because the state law wasn’t expressly retroactive, while Alix’s attorney, Mark Morse, stated that the ban was invalid because of the state law.

A Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of Alix.  The judge found that the state law does supersede Pawtucket’s ban.  This means that, at this time, Pawtucket is no longer allowed to enforce their ban.  This also means that there is a precedent set against any other municipality that would attempt to continue enforcement of a breed discriminatory law.  If this ruling stands, it clarifies the state law so that it is clear that no breed discriminatory laws are allowed, regardless of when they were enacted.

It is interesting to note that Pawtucket attempted to have a grandfather clause included in the prohibition on breed discriminatory laws during the Senate committee hearings, but the grandfather clause was rejected.  This speaks to the intent of the law and legislators.  Had they intended to allow existing ordinances to be maintained, they would have expressly included the grandfather clause.  This was not the only way Pawtucket officials attempted to keep their ban.  They also tried an e-mail campaign to defeat the state law prohibiting BDL while the bill was moving through the legislative process.  That was unsuccessful as well.  The contention at the time was that reversal of the ban would make their community un-safe.

The city does have the option to appeal the decision.  At this time, the cities attorneys are waiting to see the written order, and a transcript of the proceedings before deciding whether or not to appeal.  Pawtucket was the only city to try and keep their breed discriminatory law, with active enforcement, after the state prohibition was passed.

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.

Medford Oregon public meeting to discuss possible breed discriminatory law

The city of Medford Oregon is discussing the possibility of a breed discriminatory ordinance.

Councilor Karen Blair said recent attacks by dangerous dogs against other dogs prompted her to ask the city for more information about the issue.

In a news report Blair was quoted as saying, “There are few people that can handle a dog that strong, particularly when its jaws naturally lock.”  It is clear that there are some serious misconceptions regarding the anatomy of dogs, that has hopefully been cleared up by some of the correspondence the city council has already received.

The council was reportedly looking into how other municipalities handle dangerous dogs.   The statement was made that presence of breed based bans and restrictions in other areas prompted them to look into the issue for themselves.  While this maybe true, the prejudicial and misinformed statements made point to an internal factor in the investigation of this issue.

Another Oregon town recently discussed breed discrimination.  After looking at the information, Baker City Oregon roundly rejected the idea and the organizations that support these types of laws, as flawed, biased and ineffective.  The result was a fantastic, comprehensive breed neutral law that will serve the entire community.

After a look at municipal bite data, the police department stated that there have been 89 reported dog bites in 3 years.  These numbers were concerning to officials, and they began discussing what can be done to reduce bite rates in the city.  The city of Medford has a population that was estimated to be over 76,000 residents in 2012.

When the idea was originally brought forward, feedback from the officials was mixed.  The Mayor specifically stated that a ban wasn’t on the table.  Several other council members offered similar opposition to a ban, but feedback specific to restrictions was not given.

There was a study session held initially.  According to news reports, the sessions discussed the idea of breed discriminatory legislation in general.  Correspondence from the council has proven this to be true, but the council also heard presentations on why breed discriminatory laws are problematic.

Residents have been collecting signatures on petitions and the council has reportedly received a lot of correspondence regarding the issue.

There is not a lot of feedback regarding which direction the council may take.

Medford Oregon residents:

The city has issued a press release.  A meeting has been scheduled for February 19th beginning at 4:30pm, 411 W. 8th Street, Medford, Oregon, on the 3rd floor of City Hall.  This meeting is being held to hear public input on the potential changes to the current dangerous dog laws.

Residents should attend this meeting to politely and factually oppose breed discriminatory laws.  Those who speak can also present written information to the council for consideration at that time.

Those who cannot attend can direct their written opposition to the council directly at the following e-mail addresses.

Gary  Wheeler – Mayor    mayor@ci.medford.or.us
Karen Blair – Councilmember Ward 2:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Daniel Bunn – Councilmember Ward 4:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Chris Corcoran – Councilmember Ward 3:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Dick Gordon – Councilmember Ward 1:  dick.gordon@cityofmedford.org
Tim  Jackle – Councilmember Ward 1:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Eli Matthews – Councilmember Ward 2:  council@ci.medford.or.us
John Michaels – Councilmember Ward 3:  council@ci.medford.or.us
Bob Strosser – Councilmember Ward 4:  council@ci.medford.or.us

Hornbeak Tennessee passes first reading of breed specific law

Hornbeak Tennessee passed the first reading of a new law regarding vicious dogs that includes restrictions on several breeds of dogs.  The measure was voted on Tuesday night and passed unanimously.  There is one more reading before the ordinance becomes law.

“The proposed ordinance amends current municipal code by adding a section regarding vicious dogs, and it specifically names several breeds of dogs which are included and outlines stringent requirements for having those breeds. ” More can be read here.

Residents and locals: Please reach out NOW and express opposition to the breed specific law.  Officials have said that they are having problems with dogs in general but are singling out “dangerous breeds” as well.  Politely and respectfully inform them how breed specific laws do not work to increase public safety but a comprehensive breed neutral law will. With a unanimous vote there was likely no one who has stepped up to oppose this.

Hornbeak is an extremely small town with no online presence but the information for City Hall is  (731) 538-9626, 212 W Main St, Hornbeak, TN. 38232

Rhode Island and Broward county Florida pull “pit bull” bills

RHODE ISLAND: We received news from the Defenders of Animals that the Senator who introduced legislation in Rhode Island to create statewide restrictions on pit bull type dogs has officially withdrawn his bill from the Senate. The companion House Bill has also been withdrawn. With all the opposition to this bill it was destined to not proceed but it is always nice to see legislators respond to the concerns of their constituents with action.

With the outcry of opposition from Rhode Island residents there is bound to be some positive legislative action in the future for breed specific laws. Congratulations Rhode Island for making your voices heard.

The sponsor had said his intention was to start a conversation and get the attention of national organizations to get help for their town.  They are receiving the help that they needed to form a breed neutral law to better protect the community.

BROWARD COUNTY FLORIDA: Commissioner Barbara Sharief had planned on trying to approach the state legislature in Florida to ask for permission to pass a pit bull ban.  Sharief had cited concerns from her district about “pit bulls” that had been dumped from neighboring Miami-Dade as the reason for the action.

Initially, Sharief said she knew there would be a backlash but there was more support for a breed ban than opposition. At this weeks commission meeting, however, Sharief was proven wrong when the meeting was packed with opponents to the measure. 60 people spoke at the meeting with the vast majority of those against any breed specific law. One commissioner said when he stopped keeping track of the e-mails he received about this issue there were over 1,000 against it and only 11 for. Sharief subsequently pulled the motion from committee.

A couple of very important things to note about the meeting.  When the other commissioners spoke about the measure most said they would not support any request to go to the state to try to institute a breed discriminatory measure in the future. One Councilor spoke very clearly about their support for the state law prohibiting breed specific laws.  They noted that the issues they are having is because of Miami’s ban and that it would be bad for the community as a whole to allow towns to decide on their own if they want a breed specific law.

Another important thing to note is that Commissioner Sharief showed very clearly that she is willing to listen to the community and respond.  She is now working with advocates and animal groups to find a solution to the issues Broward County is having. It does not matter that we disagree with law makers, we must always engage in a respectful dialogue. When people behave with a lack of respect for law makers they become less likely to listen to what is being said.  Always be polite, be professional and be respectful with all communications with legislators.

Alerts for Bronwood Georgia and Lansing Michigan

LANSING MICHIGAN: There is discussion and dissension about a breed discriminatory law.  After some recent incidents, the community is pushing for better protection from dangerous dogs.  While there are people who do not want a breed based law, there are others that do. The Mayor of Lansing has mentioned a desire to go breed specific, while Councilor Jody Washington recognizes that the owner needs to be held responsible.

“When I was campaigning, I was charged by a pit bull and a German shepherd, so it isn’t the breed, it’s the owner,” said Washington, who is the Chair of the Public Safety Committee”

“It’s still in the beginning stages, but Mayor Bernero says the ordinance should hold owners of specific breeds, including pit bulls, more accountable. That includes building higher and stronger fences and having certain types of pet insurance.”

More at WLIX 10.

Lansing residents and locals: The public safety committee will be discussing this on March 5th.  Please attend and show support for a breed neutral ordinance that would protect the community. If you cannot attend, please respectfully reach out to the commission and Mayor with facts to oppose a breed specific law.

Contact information for the city council:

Lansing City Council
10th Floor – City Hall
124 W. Michigan Ave
Lansing, MI 48933

(517) 483-4177
(517) 483-7630 fax

group e-mail: council@lansingmi.gov,

There is no Phone number or e-mail for the Mayor but there is a form on the city website to contact Mayor Virg Bernero’s office.

Best Friends Animal Society has create a contact form for Lansing officials.

BRONWOOD GEORGIA: Local government is considering a breed specific law following an attack by two “pit bulls.”  The unvaccinated dogs were running at large when they attacked. These facts are important to note because they point at the responsibility of the owners care and control of the dogs. This incident is leading officials to consider a breed discriminatory law.

According to a recent article in the Albany Herald  “a stringent dog regulation would apply to ownership of a variety of pit bull type dogs as well as pure breeds like the American Staffordshire Terrier. Among other requirements, owners of such animals would be required to keep the dogs in cages 10 feet by 10 feet by 6 feet, employ microchip identification and hold a $100,000 insurance policy against damage and injuries.”

Residents and locals: Reach out now to provide a constituent voice against a breed discriminatory law.  This will be discussed at the commission meeting on March 4th. Be polite. Be respectful. Be professional.

Contact information for Bronwood: There is no website or e-mail for Bronwood

City Hall: 102 West Main St.
Bronwood, GA 39826
Phone Number:
(229) 995-5708
Fax Number:
(229) 995-5085