Tag Archives: bully breed

Georgia state level concerns

The issue of Georgia and what is happening there has been very much the topic of conversation recently.

At this point in time, there is no chance of a breed discriminatory law being introduced on the state level for the 2014 legislative session.  The deadline for filing bills has passed, and since nothing has been filed, the issue is not of concern for this year.

There is a long past to the issue of a potential breed discriminatory law in Georgia.  Most recently, the issue we are seeing with Representative Waites has taken some strange turns.

In early 2013, a very young child crawled out of their home and was attacked by seven dogs.  The two-year old child crawled out of a dog door, while unsupervised and as a result, died.

Rep. Waites had some contact with the family of this particular victim, and the conversation about breed discriminatory laws began.  Local advocates were quick to act, meeting with Rep. Waites to both oppose the idea of any breed discriminatory laws, as well as to offer help is crafting breed neutral laws.

The initial discovery was that, as is typical with many legislators, there was very little understanding of what dangerous dog laws need to contain in order to be effective.  It is not uncommon that those who seek to make these laws know little about them.  It is not something that many people deal with on a daily basis.  This is why it is important that legislators hear from those who are well versed in the civil, criminal and constitutional issues of dangerous dog laws.

What we do see with some legislators when dealing with breed discriminatory issues, is usually a base line understanding of which dogs are typically targeted.  We have been told that the Representative did not know that her own dog was considered to be dangerous in many locations, by insurance companies and designated as rescue only by an organization in her own district.

The results of these preliminary conversations were that the Rep. said she would no longer pursue a breed discriminatory law.  A note on Rep, Waites’ Facebook page from late April 2013, states that any law would be breed neutral.

From the note:

“Instead of proposing an all-out ban of dangerous dogs or on pit bulls, which could be seen as infringing on the individual freedoms of responsible pet owners across the state, I am merely proposing that those who choose to own violent and dangerous animals that have a history of violence be held responsible, considering the type of damage these animals are capable of inflicting,” said Rep. Waites. “While I am very committed to the passage of comprehensive dangerous dog legislation, I am also interest in ensuring that responsible pet owners are not unfairly targeted.” 

“I don’t think outlawing pit bulls is the way to go. However, there must be stronger laws on the books governing attacks by aggressive dogs, and stiff penalties to go with them for the owners of the dogs.   When people start seeing dog owners go to jail for irresponsible behavior, they’ll start thinking twice about keeping a potentially dangerous animal for a pet,” Added Rep. Waites.”

This line of discussion continued through June of 2013.  It wasn’t until the mother of another young child that was killed while unsupervised approached Rep. Waites that the conversation about breed discriminatory laws began again.

There are two videos on the Representative’s Facebook page.  The first, from December 12th 2013, is one where Rep. Waites has a conversation with the mother of the second victim from 2013.   During this, the Representative states very clearly that she wants to seek “bully breed” legislation on the state level.

The latest official statement made is from February 2014 video in which Rep. Waites addressing the House with a statement.  In this statement she urges the House to pass a law that would make the breeding of “pit bull animals to only licensed holders.”  This is language used frequently when a breed discriminatory mandatory spay neuter law is being discussed.  We have been told that the Representative has said on numerous occasions, even directly after saying she was in opposition to a breed discriminatory law, that a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law was of interest.  She seemed to have a particular interest in breeders specifically in these conversations.

She also states in this video that “every day a child is fatally injured by animals that were simply never ever meant to be pets.”  Not only is this statement a clear indicator of the personal bias involved in this, but it is also a complete falsehood.  Each year there are roughly 30 fatal attacks by dogs.  This number has remained steady despite both the rise in the human population and the rise in the dog population.  While each situation is tragic, there are numerous co-occurring factors involved in fatal attacks, but the breed or type of the dog is not one of them, shown once again by the latest peer-reviewed study published by the JAVMA.

This statement was accompanied by a rally, attended by roughly 15 people, including out-of-state interests.

The situation will continue to be monitored.  It has been made clear that the legislative desired of Rep. Waites changes depending on who is being spoken to, so only time will tell what, if any, actual action will be taken in the 2015 legislative session.

Representative Waites is currently up for re-election and is, at this time, running unopposed.

Thank you Jo for the additional information regarding this issue.

Advertisements

Columbia South Carolina Councilman wants breed discriminatory law

An official on the Columbia South Carolina city council is discussing a “bully breed” ordinance.

Though there are no details yet on exactly what the ordinance may encompass and what specific breeds the councilman would like to target, there are certain things that have been said in the media about the potential intent and direction of the idea.

The justifications for this bear a close examination, as they are ones that appear time and time again.

The first justification is that there is an over population issue in shelters.  Columbia is looking into becoming a no-kill community and officials claim that bully breeds are crowding the shelters.

Based on the reports, we can see that this is clearly not the case.  The shelter reports that only 7% of the animals they euthanize are “pit bulls.”  This is a remarkably low number considering the broad classification and the numerous dogs that are typically labeled as pit bulls by shelter staff.  Currently the shelter euthanize about 11,000 animals a year.

Striving to be a no kill community is an admirable goal, but an ordinance targeting 7% leaves the remaining 93% of shelter euthanasia unaddressed.  That is over 10,000 animals being killed.

What does work for communities to become no kill is not to focus on the killing, but to focus on positive outcomes for the animals that are taken in.

Another issue with this thinking is that no kill and breed discriminatory laws cannot co-exist.  Breed discriminatory laws make targeted dogs much more difficult to adopt out.  Increasing the stigma behind certain dogs decreases adoptions, resulting in higher percentages of killing.  The 7% will quickly build under a breed discriminatory law.

The second justification is one of what is called red lining.  Initially coined to describe the practice of banks literally drawing a red line around certain neighborhoods and denying services to those neighborhoods, the term has now come to encompass both denial of services and targeting what are perceived to be communities of lower social standing.  This is not an uncommon justification in breed discriminatory laws.  When we see reference to the laws being used to target drug dealers or dog fighters, the theory of red lining is being used.  The idea is that only certain “elements” of the population have targeted dogs, and therefore creating a law gives authorities the ability to target people without sufficient probable cause.

There is an element of this is the Columbia officials thinking.  Multiple reports reference dog fighting.

“Pitbull fighting is a multi-million dollar business,” said a representative of Columbia Animal Services. “It’s very secretive to catch them. It is almost impossible.”

The Columbia Police Department said there have not been any recent reports of dog fighting within city limits.

The only element of the proposal that has been clearly outlined is differential licensing fees for an unaltered targeted dog.  Currently fees are $25 for an un-altered dog.  The councilman would like to increase that amount.

So far word from some on the council that have responded to concerned residents is leaning in a positive direction.  We are hearing that thus far there is no plan to discuss this by the full council and that this is one council member who is pushing for it.   Some on the council didn’t even hear about this through the council, but rather through the new paper.

Because this is in the conversation stage at this point, and has not officially been brought to the council, now is the best time for residents to become involved.

COUNCIL MEMBERS:

Sam Davis, District 1 – sdavis@columbiasc.net
Tameika Isaac Devine , at large –  e-mail: tidevine@columbiasc.net
Leona K. Plaugh, District 4-  e-mail: lkplaugh@columbiasc.net
Brian DeQuincey Newman, District 2 – e-mail: bdnewman@columbiasc.net
Cameron Runyan, At-Large – email: carunyan@columbiasc.net
Moe Baddourah, District 3 – email: mobaddourah@columbiasc.net