Tag Archives: livingston county kentucky

Livingston County Kentucky passes multi breed restrictions

The Livingston County Kentucky Fiscal Court has passed an ordinance that targets several different breeds of dogs and their mixes at their last meeting, despite opposition from residents.

In a bold display, officials cut off public comment at the vote.  A resident was presenting testimony about the ordinances violation of the AKC and UKC’s copyright of their breed standards, when officials cut off his comments and proceeded directly to the vote.

The ordinance relies on the breed standards from these two kennel clubs for enforcement of a “licensing” provision for American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers.  These standards are on file in the County Judges office, as well as Animal Control offices.  All the kennel clubs have been very clear that any use of their breed standards to enforce a breed discriminatory law is a direct and flagrant violation of the copyright. Some have gone so far as to testify in court on this.

Registered show dogs are exempted from this ordinance so, once again, we have a situation where the mixed breed dogs are being targeted but dogs that are officially one of the targeted breeds, are not.  The language is confused, including both the phrases “substantially conforms to” and “primarily of the breed” with no clarification as to what either of these standards are.

The ordinance appears to be a licensing ordinance on its face but when examined more closely it reveals itself to be the standard breed discriminatory restrictions.  In order to “license” a restricted dog, residents must meet multiple requirements.  Proof of vaccines, sterilization, confinement, personal contact information for the owner and the owner of a restricted dog will have to provide proof of $50,000 in liability insurance.

Officials were going to pass this no matter what.  This is clear from the comments of those present at the meeting and the way officials closed the discussion when it was pointed out they would be breaking the law to enforce their law.

County wide ordinances are expensive to enforce.  Residents will no doubt see a decrease in enforcement of effective animal control laws to be able to have the time and money to enforce a breed discriminatory law, that will clog shelters, dry up resources and penalize responsible owners.

It is always said by officials that irresponsible owners will be the ones to be targeted but this is never the case.  Blanket regulations for only certain segments of the population do not effectively create a safer community.  Breed discriminatory ordinances are over and under inclusive.

Viewing the report on incidents for restricted dogs raises a more serious question as to what exactly the basis is for this action.  There are a very limited number of incidents by the targeted population of dogs. In Livingston County’s letter to justify their breed discriminatory law, officials try to show they have an issue with targeted dogs.  There is a lot wrong with this letter.

The first thing is that based on the population of Livingston County and the most concrete time frame given in it of 2 years, this letter shows that there is a .0003% change of having being bitten by one of the targeted types of dogs.  Once we begin to break these down by the dogs actual breeds, or supposed breeds, the odds reduce.  The lack of a specific time frame, however, puts these odds at even less than that.  The text says that these bites occurred over the last “2 years (plus).”  The “plus” is undefined since there is no specific date span given.  This one word pulls into question all of the numbers presented.

The last section reads, “These Numbers do not reflect attacks not reported (we are confident that number would double these as we are personally aware of many that were not reported to animal control)

It is completely erroneous for officials to include that they have heard of more attacks but they were not reported. Officials are basing their opinions and passage of this ordinance on completely unsubstantiated claims, a kind of dog attack game of telephone.  It seems that officials were very much aware that the numbers they presented to do not speak to rampant dog related issues, rather a specified owner related one and were trying to mitigate the impression of the actual verifiable statistics.

Also noticeably absent are the bite reports of all other dogs and the total numbers of reported bites in the community, as well as the estimated population of targeted dogs in the community.  Cherry picked statistics are not uncommon in these cases, but they are always disappointing.

The biggest issue seems to be unattended dogs.  A very simple fix for this is to pass a breed neutral containment law.  No dogs should be in the community unattended, regardless of breed.

Owners have 60 days to comply or their dogs will be confiscated and they will be fined.

Livingston’s complete ordinance can be viewed here.

Livingston County Kentucky seeks breed discriminatory law

The Livingston County Kentucky Fiscal Court is in the process of trying to enact a dangerous dog law that would target several different dog breeds.

Some officials have stated that they are trying to hold owners more accountable for their dogs by targeting these breeds, while others say they are being targeted because the listed breeds are responsible for all the attacks in the county.

The ordinance currently targets American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers.

There are several ways a dog can be determined to be restricted.  One way is if either parent is registered as one of the listed breeds. A second way is if an owner “registers, defines, admits, or otherwise identifies the dog as being of a restricted breed.” The last would be certification by a licensed veterinarian.  Though the ordinance does not explicitly say this, certification by a veterinarian would be at the behest of animal control.  It is often the case that animal control tries to get vets to identify dogs to be targeted by laws like this. These ID’s are done visually under most circumstances.  The vet must certify that the dog is “primarily” one of the targeted breeds.  What percentage  “primarily” means is not specified.  The definitions are confused.  The wording of the proposal mentions both phrases “primarily of the breed” and “substantially conforms to” with no clarification as to what either of these mean for practical application of the ordinance.

They are using both the UKC (United Kennel Club) and AKC (American Kennel Club) standards to try to define and enforce this.  Both kennel clubs are mentioned in the definition portion of the ordinance.  Both the UKC and the AKC have made statements that using their breed standards for the enforcement of a breed discriminatory law is a violation of their copyright.

The ordinance calls for special registration that comes with a list of requirements that are standard to any licensing law.  Proof of vaccines, sterilization and personal contact information for the owner.  However, the owner of a restricted dog will have to provide proof of $50,000 in liability insurance.

However, this is not a license, it is an application process.  Officials will review the “application” to determine if the person is allowed to keep their dog.  This includes a criminal background check for an owner of a targeted dog.  There is some question as to the constitutionality of something like this.  If the application is denied, the dog will be taken and killed.  There is no clause saying the dog can be rehomed either inside or outside the county.  It explicitly says the dog will be killed.  In cases where a person is granted the “right” to own a restricted dog and is found to be in violation, they will have a very limited amount of time to remove the dog from the county.

We asked Attorney Fred Kray, of Pit Bulletin Legal News, to examine the ordinance to give some perspective about the due process involved in the ordinance as written. According to Mr. Kray, “the appellate process is flawed. While they term it a review – it is written, and there is no trial, cross examination, subpoena of witnesses or burden of proof as required by Mansour v. King. There is nothing that requires the government to come forward to prove their case, and thus the way it is worded puts the burden of going forward on the owner. They then put the burden of proof on the owner as well to justify the license. Because they are wording everything as a license, one might get the impression that it is a licensing procedure only. However, they are taking your property and it triggers the fourth amendment. In my opinion, due process is not met in the licensing ‘appeal’ which is really the first tier fact finding hearing.”  This is problematic because of the case mentioned.  Mansour v. King deals with due process in dangerous dog cases and is very clear about the standards and rules for the case, appeals and keeping of records involved.

Livingston’s complete proposed ordinance

Residents have been working very hard to try to sway officials away from a breed discriminatory ordinance.  They have been petitioning locally and providing information to officials.  Remember, this is a  County wide ordinance, so anyone who lives in an unincorporated part of the county would be effected by its passage.

This should be heard on the 23rd of July beginning at 5pm.  If anyone in the area can attend please do so.  Meetings are held at the County Library/Office building in Smithland KY.

Please reach out and respectfully offer opposition and alternatives to the breed discriminatory ordinance.  There is a contact form on the County website or you may e-mail the Magistrates directly with the information provided below.

Livingston County Executive Judge  Chris Lasher:  clasher@livingstonco.ky.gov

County Magistrates:
Terry Stringer: tstringer@livingstonco.ky.gov
Franklin Walker: fwalker@livingstonco.ky.gov
Jimmy Ferrell: bferrell@livingstonco.ky.gov
Marvin Buford: mbuford@livingstonco.ky.gov