Tag Archives: committee

South Bend Indiana unanimously repeals breed discriminatory law

After much hard work, officials in South Bend, Indiana, have voted on the new animal control ordinance that includes the repeal of the long-standing breed discriminatory law.  They voted unanimously to pass the new law and repeal the outdated breed discriminatory law.

Passed in 1987, the law restricted American Pit Bull Terriers and those resembling this breed only.  The ordinance was very clear in the definition that American Pit Bull Terrier was defined as the UKC (United Kennel Club) and ADBA (American Dog Breeders Association) standard.

” American Pit Bull Terrier means the breed of dog registered and described by the United Kennel Club (U.K.C) and the American Dog Breeders Association (A.D.B.A.) as the American Pit Bull Terrier, also known as the pit bull terrier, and any crossbreed of the American Pit Bull Terrier; but does not include the breeds known as the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the English Bulldog, the Bull Terrier, or the Bulldog, all of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club (A.K.C.).”

This particular definition had proven to be completely unenforceable considering that it specifically excluded so many breeds and types that are typically lumped into the definition of “pit bull.”

The repeal is not surprising, considering the breadth of the ordinance that is taking its place.  A work group was formed over a year ago to study the issue and the current law, and to draft changes.  The group took their time, forming a new law based on best practices in the industry regarding the care and control of all animals.

Councilwoman Valerie Schey took the issue on head first, recognizing, based on municipal statistics, that the current animal control ordinance wasn’t working to do what was intended.  The changes to the ordinance began in early 2013.

Interestingly, the animal control changes coincided with the dismissal of the long time head of animal control back in April of 2013.  In a local story on the dismissal, Schey commented that “Even though we’ve made significant strides in the care we provide with the new building, I still don’t feel the (euthanasia) numbers are where they need to be.”

Though the media made it seem like the issue of repeal was a hotly contested one, there were no speakers in favor of keeping the old breed discriminatory law at the meeting.

To say the new animal control ordinance is a comprehensive one would be an understatement.  The ordinance covers breeding practices, standards for animal related businesses, animal based entertainment, husbandry issues for all kinds of animals, from horses to bees.  There are detailed definitions for dangerous, potentially dangerous and vicious animals.  There are additions to the law that outline the standard of care for animal owners.  Specific to dogs, there are tethering provisions, husbandry issues addressed and a more detailed dangerous dog law that includes due process for owners, which had been seriously lacking in the old law.

The ordinance is 60 pages and contains some fabulous provisions that will make South Bend a safer and more humane community, which was the goal of Schey when she undertook this project.

South Bend also highlights another issue we have seen recently where proponents of breed discriminatory laws have been interfering with the local legislative process.  We are aware of several well-known pro-BDL advocates, who live out-of-state, that wrote to the legislators misrepresenting themselves as residents.  This has become a recent trend that can be seen in other municipalities as well, Riverside and Pasadena, California, Aurora, Colorado and Missouri are just a few of the other places these tactics are being used.  These people, however are increasingly being seen for what they are, as residents come forward and dominate the conversation, overwhelmingly against breed discriminatory laws.  Councils are more aware than ever that this handful of people, and the groups they represent, are using these tactics in an attempt to sway the conversation, but have no presence in the actual community.

We would like to congratulate Councilwoman Schey for her hard work in crafting the new law, and setting South Bend on the path to becoming a model city for animal care and control.


Rhode Island HB 7630 to allow Warwick to enact breed discriminatory law set for hearing

Rhode Island HB 7630 has been scheduled for a date to be heard by the first committee.  The House Committee on Municipal Government is set to hear the bill on March 20th.

The bill would allow the city of Warwick to re-institute their breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.  The old ordinance was voided when the Rhode Island legislature passed a law that made breed discriminatory laws illegal in the state.

This bill follows on the heels of another bill, by the same sponsors, which had attempted to alter state law to allow any town to pass a breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter law.  That bill was tabled for further study.  The legislators then submitted HB 7630.

The bill’s sponsors are representatives of Warwick.

Warwick’s old law was a prohibition on owning a targeted dog unless it was altered, or the person had a license for breeding issued by the director on the local animal shelter.  Targeted dogs included American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, “or a dog that is a mix of the two breeds.”

Warwick animal control currently does a fantastic job of out reach.  They work with owners to provide low-cost services and to educate owners on the issue of spay/neuter.  This out reach is what is responsible for their effective population control, not the old law.

It has been proven time and time again that the solution to over population issues is effective out reach and community solutions.  These programs are responsible for the decrease in population and increase in positive outcomes for animals.  Many places do not have breed discriminatory mandatory spay/neuter laws, but they do have community out reach and education, and they still see the same results.

With the programs and out reach being done in the community, there is no reason for a law that would penalize people based on the appearance of their dog.  This is aside from the issue that these laws have the exact opposite effects of their intentions.  Communicating to underserved areas and providing resources does so much more for everyone.

Rhode Island residents:

Please reach out to the members of the committee and ask them to oppose this bill.  The state law was passed for a reason, and to allow a single town exemption via a bill is counter to the intent of the state law.  The rights of all residents of the state of Rhode Island deserve the same consideration.

Residents of Warwick, especially, should reach out to their representatives to oppose this bill.

Committee on Municipal Government:

rep-ogrady@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-newberry@rilin.state.ri.us,   rep-marshall@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-kazarian@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-johnston@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-hearn@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-costantino@rilin.state.ri.us,   rep-bennett@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-amore@rilin.state.ri.us,  rep-ackerman@rilin.state.ri.us

Medford Oregon officials reject breed discriminatory law

Medford, Oregon, officials have rejected the idea of a breed discriminatory law.

The idea was initially raised by Councilor Karen Blair after a complaint of dog on dog attack in the city.

Councilor Blair had made some ill-informed statements to the media in support of a law that would have targeted dogs deemed to be pit bulls.  Blair stated that, “There are few people that can handle a dog that strong, particularly when its jaws naturally lock.”  (referencing what she called “pit bulls”)

As officials were examining possible changes to their dangerous dog laws, they accepted public input from many different sections of the community.   All presenters were professional, respectful and well versed in the latest peer reviewed studies that all state that breed is not a factor in attacks.

The first study session was widely publicized as one that considered a breed ban.  Information directly from the council showed that this option was discussed, but a large part of the conversation had centered around the problems in enforcing such a law and the failures of breed discriminatory laws to improve public safety.

Additional information from those communicating with the Council also showed the direction of the conversation was a positive one.  Correspondence indicated that only the one council member had shown any interest in such an ordinance.   The police advisory committee was formed to examine the cities options for strengthening the cities dangerous dog laws, and not to draft a breed ban, as was implied by media accounts.  Because one member of the council was interested in a ban, this took precedent in the conversation as presented by the media, overshadowing the rest of the conversation.

At the last police advisory committee meeting, held this past Tuesday, Medford police said they will propose an ordinance that would target problem dog owners and that a breed ban will not be considered.

One change being considered is increasing penalties for people who are not managing their dogs properly in the community but aside from that there are no real details as to what the proposal could contain.

The advisory committee heard many different options during their meetings.  Councilor Bob Strosser was the council representative on the committee.  Also on the committee were representatives from the local animal control, representatives of the legal interests of the town, as well as the local police department.  The committee had met several times.

During these meetings the legal representative raised concerns about the legal ramifications of a breed discriminatory law.  He recommended against a breed based law due to the cost and legal issues.

The animal control representative supported the idea of resources and programs to help dog owners in the community.  Behind the scenes, local advocates have offered help with such resources, such as spay/neuter, affordable training and licensing campaigns to bring more residents into compliance.

Councilor Strosser brought several breed neutral laws to the committee for consideration, including the recently passed Baker City law.  Baker City passed a comprehensive breed neutral law after some discussion of a breed discriminatory law.  During the Baker City meetings officials rejected information claiming one breed or type of dog as more dangerous than others as inherently biased and factually unfounded.

Interestingly, Medford is yet another case where members of the council roundly rejected the “statistics” of the pro-BDL lobby, calling into question their obvious bias and lack of reliability.

Reason prevails.  The facts are on the side of breed neutral laws, and slowly but surely we are seeing officials reject the cherry picked, media based statistics in favor of peer-reviewed and verified information.

Medford officials have some fantastic ordinances at their disposal to help craft their new law.  We look forward to seeing the results of the continuation of the rational discourse that has taken place thus far.

Thank you Cheryl Huerta, from the Portland Pit Bull Parade,  for the additional information on this issue.

Watertown Wisconsin pursuing breed discriminatory ordinance

Officials in Watertown Wisconsin are moving forward with a breed discriminatory ordinance.

Though the ordinance was originally much more stringent, the current form imposes extra restrictions on dogs labeled as pit bulls.  Pit bull is defined as American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or any dog displaying a majority of physical traits of one or more of these breeds.  Under the current draft of the ordinance these breeds and those that resemble the listed breeds will be declared “high risk,” which carries with it special restrictions.

The restrictions are mandatory spay/neuter, confinement requirements, leash requirements, special registration, liability insurance, a limit of 2 dogs per household and photographs of the dog on file with the town.  Also, the owner of a high risk dog cannot own the dog in a multi-family unit. There is no clear definition at this time of what a multi-family unit consists of.  This definition could include those who live in a twin home depending on how it is worded.  There is currently no grandfather clause that would allow people who live in a “multi-family unit” to keep their dogs.

The proposal is still in a draft form so it is extremely important that people attend the meetings being held by Watertown officials to oppose any form of breed discrimination and offer strong breed neutral alternatives.  Responsible pet ownership laws are much more effective in targeting those who are not operating proper care of their animals within the community.

Officials are under the impression that they are targeting irresponsible owners by targeting dogs based on the way they look.

The committee is meeting Wednesday night, July 17th.  If anyone in the area can attend to please do so.  We are hearing that they may not allow any public comment at this meeting but a strong physical presence is still needed to let officials know that they are targeting the wrong end of the leash. The meeting starts at 5pm in room 8, 106 Jones Street.  This item is last on the agenda.

Previous alert for Watertown

Hearing set for Massachusetts S969, to allow breed discriminatory laws on the state level

At the end of 2012, the Massachusetts legislature passed a comprehensive animal control act.  This new law contained a clause in it that subverted all breed discriminatory laws in Massachusetts, making breed discrimination illegal on the state level.

Boston officials were extremely unhappy with this clause and as a result immediately filed S969 which would create an exemption in the state law prohibiting breed discriminatory laws.  The language of the bill states that a municipality would be able to institute breed discriminatory laws if

a city or town deems a specific breed to be deemed dangerous through analysis of municipal attack data and by a majority vote of the city council with the approval of the mayor, in the case of a city with a Plan A, Plan B, or Plan F charter; by a majority vote of the city council, in the case of a city with a Plan C, Plan D, or Plan E charter; by a majority vote of the annual town meeting or a special meeting called for the purpose, in the case of a municipality with a town meeting form of government; or by a majority vote of the town council, in the case of a municipality with a town council form of government.”

The bill sets forth no clear rules for what constitutes proof in regards to data collection methods or data analysis.  The bills backers seem to want people to take their word on what they deem to be a “dangerous breed.”

Despite claims from the bills backers that they have data that would allow Boston an exemption under the proposed changes, no such data has ever been provided to any constituents that have made the request to see this data.

Pit Bulletin Legal News drafted a Freedom of Information Act Request, which can be viewed here, in an attempt to access the information that officials were relying on to make the determination that Boston should be allowed to re-institute their breed discriminatory ordinance.

This bill has been set for a hearing date.  The Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government is set to hear this bill on June 4th.

Massachusetts residents: Reach out to the members of the committee and your legislators to offer opposition to S969. All members of the committee are listed below. You can find you specific representatives here.

Senator Sal DiDomenico: Phone: 617-722-1650 Email: Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov

Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz: Phone: 617-722-1673 Email: Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov

Senator William Brownsberger: Phone: 617-722-1280 Email: William.Brownsberger@masenate.gov

Senator James Timilty: Phone: 617 722-1222 Email: James.Timilty@masenate.gov

Senator Barry Finegold: Phone: 617-722-1612 Email: Barry.Finegold@MASenate.gov

Senator Richard Ross: Phone: 617-722-1555 Email: Richard.Ross@masenate.gov

Rep. Sarah Peake: Phone: 617-722-2090 Email: Sarah.Peake@mahouse.gov

Rep. Gailanne Cariddi: Phone: 617-722-2450 Email: Gailanne.Cariddi@mahouse.gov

Rep. Thomas Stanley: Phone: 617-722-2230 Email: Thomas.Stanley@mahouse.gov

Rep. Sean Garballey: Phone: 617-722-2090 Email: Sean.Garballey@mahouse.gov

Rep. Rhonda Nymann: Phone: 617-722-2210 Email: Rhonda.Nyman@MAhouse.gov

Rep. Wayne Matewsky: Phone: 617-722-2090 Email: Wayne.Matewsky@mahouse.gov

Rep. Kevin Kuros: Phone: 617-722-2460 Email: Kevin.Kuros@mahouse.gov

Rep. Cleon Turner: Phone: 617-722-2090 Email: Cleon.Turner@mahouse.gov

Rep. Timothy Madden: Phone: 617-722-2810 Email: Timothy.Madden@mahouse.gov

Rep. David Rogers: Phone: 617-722-2400 Email: Dave.Rogers@mahouse.gov

Rep. Peter Durant: Phone: 617-722-2060 Email: Peter.Durant@mahouse.gov

Rhode Island HB5671, a bill to prohibit breed discriminatory laws set for committee

Rhode Island legislators are looking at a bill that would prohibit municipalities in the state of Rhode Island from enacting breed discriminatory laws. HB5671 would amend the current laws to include a section that states:

“No city or town may enact any rule, regulation or ordinance specific to any breed of dog, cat or other animal in the exercise of its power to further control and regulate dogs, cats or other animals as authorized by this chapter.”

This bill is coming fresh on the heels of another bill that was introduced that would have restricted certain breeds of dogs and dogs that resemble those breeds. That bill was pulled very quickly because of the huge out pouring of opposition to breed discrimination.

Legislators will have this in their minds as they hear this bill, but it is extremely important that Rhode Island residents reach out to their legislators to ask them to support this bill.

The bill is on the House agenda for Thursday May 9th at approximately 4:30.

Rhode Island Residents: Please reach out to the members of the committee to show support for HB5671. As always, be professional, polite and factual.

The committees information:

Representative Edith H. Ajello: rep-ajello@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Joseph S. Almeida: rep-almeida@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Christopher R. Blazejewski: rep-blazejewski@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Dennis M. Canario: rep-canario@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Doreen Marie Costa: rep-costa@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Robert E. Craven, Sr.: rep-craven@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative John J. DeSimone: rep-desimone@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Donald J. Lally Jr.: rep-lally@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Charlene Lima: rep-lima@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Michael J. Marcello: rep-marcello@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Peter F. Martin: rep-martin@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative K. Joseph Shekarchi: rep-shekarchi@rilin.state.ri.us
Representative Donna M. Walsh: rep-walsh@rilin.state.ri.us

You can find your respective legislators here. Enter your zip code into the search bar to find who represents you.

Previous alert

Thank you Rhode Island Defenders of Animals for the information.

Chippewa Falls Wisconsin rejects breed discrimination

Thursday night city leaders in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin rejected the call for a ban that would target certain types of dogs.

City leaders agreed Thursday night at a Committee of the Whole meeting that a ban on any single dog breed would not be a positive solution to the city’s dog problems.Read more

Rejection of a breed discriminatory law was unanimous among the committee members.  Instead, they will be looking at breed neutral regulations that will add stiffer penalties for people who are not operating proper care and control of their dogs.  The changes being looked at are increasing fines for dogs at large, hiring an animal control officer to deal with dogs at large, and administrative fees for people whose dogs are confiscated and causing expense to the city.

Officials are also looking into a better way to proactively protect the community from dogs that have proven to be a danger to the community, like clearer administrative protocols for dogs that have already shown dangerous behavior.

We applaud officials for rejecting the unenforceable and going, instead, to common sense effective alternatives to creating a safer community for all the residents of Chippewa falls.  Constituents may reach out and thank them for doing what is best for the entire community.