Tag Archives: clay alabama

Clay Alabama agrees to not enforce breed ban

Clay Alabama officials have agreed, under the advice of their attorney and under the threat of a lawsuit, to not enforce their breed ban.

An injunction and lawsuit alleging many constitutional violations was filed on July 30th.  The first hearing was set for the 19th of August.  This hearing has been postponed pending an agreement that was struck between the lawyers representing both sides.

In the agreement, the city of Clay has agreed to not enforce their ban and to make arrangements to meet the concerns addressed in the lawsuit.  A time frame for action to be taken has been set for September 15th.  A status report must be given by that date.

From the Clay agreement,  “the parties are in agreement to Work cooperatively in an effort to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to the claim involved herein.”

This means that both the city officials and attorneys will be working together to redraft the ordinance in a way that will satisfy all the parties involved.

This does not mean that the ban is repealed at this time or that the fight is over in Clay.  The possibility for the lawsuit to move forward is still there, should officials not be willing to remove all breed discriminatory aspects of the ordinance.

Springville Alabama was also looking into a possible breed ban and have postponed discussions at this time.  It remains to be seen what effect this will have on the situation in Springville.

We will update accordingly as the process continues or you can follow what is happening in Clay by visiting Fight BSL in Clay at http://fightbslinclay.org/home.html.

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Clay Alabama residents file a motion for injunction against breed ban

The first step has been made to challenge Clay Alabama’s recently passed breed ban in court.

A motion for preliminary injunction has been filed to stop the enforcement of the ban.  Resident’s have until August 3rd to register their dogs.  This would mark the beginning of enforcement of the ban.

The full text of the motion can be viewed here.

The complaint alleges that the ban was passed in violation of Alabama’s open meeting laws.  Under that law, officials must give interested parties a certain amount of time to be able to participate in the process.  Since the ordinance was brought forward and passed in one meeting, and was drafted sometime in the 5 days between the spurring incident and the ordinances passage, it appears that this is a direct violation of that law.

Other allegations are that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is violated regarding due process, a deprivation of property, use and enjoyment of said property for several different reasons and a violation of the 5th and 6th Amendments to the Constitution for several reasons.  The irrebuttable presumption portion of the ordinance, discussed below, being one of them.  Overall the complaint is well worth the read.  The details of the complaint are extremely comprehensive.

Efforts to raise funds were focused on the date of registration in the hopes that enough money could be raised to prevent residents from having to register their dogs.  The issue is difficult because once a person registers their dog there is then a irrebuttable presumption that the dog is a “pit bull” regardless of whether or not the dog actually is.  Once the dog is registered, residents would not be able to contest the designation in the future, say if they get a DNA test or other evidence comes up that shows that dog is not a pit bull.

Municipal breed discriminatory laws have never been challenged in Alabama.  The timing of the injunction is very apt, coming on the heels of a recommendation from the City Attorney to change the law to be breed neutral.  There has been no action so far to do so.  Only talk, and some residents have talked about opposition from certain officials to going breed neutral.  The Mayor has said that he wants to expand the law to include more breeds but not all breeds.  He mentions “11 breeds” restricted by insurance companies in a recent article.

In a separate article the Council cites a lack of legal challenge to Center Point Alabama’s ordinance.  “The council made mention of Center Point’s ordinance, a five-year old ordinance that bans pit bulls, and that city not having legal issues with residents in that time.”

The Council will now learn the hard way how expensive it can be to violate people’s rights.  Hopefully, they will do the right thing to avoid litigation and repeal the ban.

You can view the filing papers for the Clay Alabama injunction here.

If anyone would like to contribute to the legal fund there is a fundraiser here.

Previous alerts:
https://stopbsl.org/2013/07/16/clay-alabama-residents-mounting-legal-challenge-to-ban/
https://stopbsl.org/2013/06/03/clay-alabama-passes-pit-bull-ban/

Clay Alabama residents mounting legal challenge to ban

Officials in Clay Alabama passed a ban on dogs they deem to be pit bulls recently.  Our initial report on the matter can be found here.

The Sheriff was menaced by dogs that he initially identified as pit bulls, but later said were Rottweiler mixes.  He fired shots at the dogs, grazing one, to scare them off.  7 days after this incident, officials passed a ban that allows people to keep their current dogs if they are registered by August 3rd and in compliance with a long list of restrictions.

The ban was passed with no warning to the public.  Naturally the public, when they were finally notified that officials had acted behind their backs, became upset.  Since then residents and locals have gathered together to try to mount a legal challenge to the ban.

There are several questions about the ordinances legality.  One question is whether the law was passed in violation of Alabama’s open meeting laws. Alabama Act 2005-40 § 2(1-6) states very clearly that any meeting with a majority voting must be duly made aware to all those wishing to participate that the law would expressly affect.  There are a certain number of days notice must be posted, as well as the type of notice that is legally sufficient, covered in this law.  It is being investigated whether or not the meeting violated this law.

The second issue is the constitutionality of the law.  The definition of a banned dog is a bit confused.  From the ordinance:

“Pit Bull” as used in this Ordinance means: any Pit Bull Terrier, which shall be defined as any American Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, or any mixed breed of dog which contains, as an element of it’s breeding the breed of American Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed of American Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier.

The phrase “an element of it’s breeding” means that a dog that is 1% of the listed breeds is banned.  This kind of language has been challenged in court before and the ordinance has failed essentially because 1% is impossible to prove or defend for implementation of the ordinance. It is also impossible to say that banning a dog with 1% of a targeted breed has any rational basis to public safety.  Even if the court accepts that there is some genetic propensity for violence, to say that 1% has the majority of genetic influence would be a stretch at the very least.

Pit Bulletin Legal News Attorney Fred Kray took a look at the ordinance and in their show gave a run down of the ordinance, it’s issues and some pressing questions residents had about registering their dogs to be in compliance with the grandfather clause.  You can listen to the full analysis hear.

Residents have been attending meetings asking for information and answers to their questions since the ordinances passage.  Officials have been less than gracious in hearing these issues.  Audio from the meetings taken by those in attendance show officials flat-out refusing to let certain people speak on the matter.

Officials have said they are speaking to “animal experts” to hear what they have to say before discussing whether the ordinance should be reviewed.  This has not been enough for residents of Clay.

With the deadline to register their dogs fast approaching, residents are hoping to raise enough money to be able to file an injunction.  We would hope that litigation would not be needed for officials to act but residents have expressed that they feel like it is the only way to be able to over turn the ban.

A site has been started by people in the area. Visit Fight BSL in Clay at http://fightbslinclay.org/home.html.

Clay Alabama passes pit bull ban

The City Council of Clay Alabama voted June 3rd to ban dogs they deem to be pit bulls after an incident involving 4 dogs officials claim were pit bull dogs.  The Sheriff was approached while on his porch by the loose dogs. He felt threatened and shot at them, grazing one of the dogs. This incident happened on Tuesday the 27th of May.

Officials passed a ban on pit bulls seven days later.

Sheriff Hale is now saying he believes the dogs that approached him were not pit bulls but Rottweilers.

The ordinance was modeled after Center Points ordinance.  The ban does have a grandfather clause.  Those people who currently have a dog that would fall under the ordinance have 60 days to register their dog in order to be able to keep it.  Owners of grandfathered dogs must post a sign, keep the dogs inside and carry $50,000 of liability insurance.

Violators of the new law face a fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

It is not known at this time whether any public input was accepted.  It is unlikely that this is the case because the prompting incident happened last week.  This appears to be a very clear case of serious owner failure resulting in some political favors being called in to mete out a personal vendetta with no care or consideration for any members of the community.  Seven days is not enough time to properly research the cost and impact of this kind of law.  Officials will no doubt find out very soon that there is a cost involved, and a heavy one at that.

Quick laws are, without fail, bad laws.