Tag Archives: moreauville

Moreauville, LA repeals breed ban; Implements state law

After a dramatic couple of weeks, the Moreauville, LA, board voted, on December 1st, to unanimously repeal the recently passed breed ban that targeted “pit bulls” and Rottweilers.

At this meeting, the entire dangerous dog ordinance was repealed, not just the breed based portion.  The only thing that remained at the time was the leash law that had been passed around 20 years ago.

On December 8th, the board voted to implement Louisiana state dangerous dog law.  This law is completely breed neutral and focuses on the actions of the dog and owner.

The ban was passed at the request of several residents.  It was not a consideration of the board until the request was made.  There were multiple incidents with dogs menacing residents, and they finally reached their breaking point.

I spoke to Mayor Timmy Lemoine about several incidents.  One resident has their dog chained along the recently built pavilion and play ground area.  Families hold birthday parties and gatherings there.  Despite there being room on the property for the dog to not be in direct contact with that particular section, that is where the dog was chained.  Chained dogs are often frustrated and act out, and this dog is no different.  Several complaints had been made from residents fearing the chain would break.  Officials attempted to speak to the dog owner, asking that the chain spot be moved back away from the common area, and were met with an extremely hostile response.  It went so far that residents stopped using the public area out of fear of this particular dog.

Another issue is a dog that is used intentionally to menace others.  We are told a man would sit with his dog on the front porch of his house, near the sidewalk and tell his dog to “Sic ’em” as people passed.

Mayor Lemoine had concerns about the way some dogs are being housed.  There are dogs that are chained all day in the Louisiana summer heat, with no shelter and minimal resources.  “A dog out on a chain like that all day goes crazy.  Anyone would,” said Lemoine.

He stated that it was the intention of the board that confiscated dogs be held at a local veterinary clinic while the owners arranged for housing elsewhere or elected to have the dogs put down.  The thought seemed to be that the dogs would be housed in a better place and cared for.  “It isn’t humane the way these dogs are being kept…I don’t see how that is humane out on a chain like that all the time.”

The ordinance was copied from a neighboring town and, as such, the language and use of the word “disposition” was left open to interpretation.  Mayor Lemoine said that the implications of the wording were not considered in depth in the passage of the ban and understands why it was interpreted the way it was.

It was the understanding of officials that the ordinance, as written, was constitutional.  They were advised by the town attorney that this was the case because it had not been challenged in the municipality it originated from.

October 13th, the board voted to pass the ban.  Mayor Lemoine said that they felt stuck.  They had been asked to do this by their constituents and did not realize the implications of the law.

Having been advised by the attorney that it was ok and having heard from officials in the town the ban originated from that it was “working” made it seem like a ban would be the cleanest solution to their problems.  “I know the owners are the problem here, but we can’t ban the owners so it seemed like we could do something by banning the dogs,” said Lemoine in an interview with us.  “We were stuck between a rock and a hard place.  It is an election year and they (the residents) made it clear this was what they wanted and if we didn’t do it they wouldn’t vote for us…”

Officials did not expect the ban to garner the attention it did.  The story was featured internationally, created a circus of half-truths and opened the door to opportunism and fraud. Much of this attention can be traced to the images of Ohara Owens and Zeus.  The media zeroed in on this aspect of the story because of the health problems of the young woman.  They took the story and ran with it, taking the statement that the dog was “like a therapy dog” and turning it into Zeus actually being a therapy dog.  Fundraisers were started by uninvolved parties, as well as involved parties for personal expenses, unrelated to this issue.

Mayor Lemoine addressed the issue of Zeus in our conversation.  He stated that he contacted a reporter at KALB about the issue.  “Zeus was never at risk…I received an e-mail from (the family) saying he was an American Bulldog…I told them to throw out the letter…he was safe…Zeus wasn’t a problem.  He was in the house and never caused any issues…I didn’t want to talk to (the family) directly because anything I said could be used against me.”

Mayor Lemoine had to disable social media messengers because of threats.  We have said this before, will say it again and will likely have to repeat it in the future.  Threats of any kind are inappropriate, counter productive and absolutely unwarranted no matter what the circumstances.

In speaking to Mayor Lemoine, several things become clear.  This was a case of a lack of adequate research and wanting to act quickly on the request of residents.  The intentions of the board were good ones.  The behavior of the problem dog owners is abhorrent.  At the risk of editorializing, if there is blame to be placed for the passage of this ban, that blame would rest squarely on the shoulders of those who are mismanaging their dogs and creating issues in Moreauville.

It is clear that both Mayor Lemoine and the board care deeply about their community.  “We are a nice little town and we don’t want people to have to fear,” said Lemoine.

People readily ascribe negative intentions to officials who pass these laws but most often the intentions are not bad ones but more poorly thought out in the rush to act.

It is easy to get lost in emotion and vitriol when dealing with matters of breed discriminatory laws.  We cannot allow ourselves to get wrapped up in half-truths and rhetoric.  We have to be open to honest dialogue about the needs of the community at large and build bridges with officials on all levels.  Nothing is gained in threats and hatred and indeed we have more to lose by indulging in these paths.  We cannot expect everyone to understand how breed based laws affect the community without a thorough and thoughtful conversation.

For the most part intentions are good, though efforts misplaced and effects misunderstood.  Mistakes are made.  We must move past these mistakes and offer our help and expertise to officials who find themselves in the difficult position of having to draft a law they have no experience with.

The simple solution is not always the most effective, but it is the most attractive.  Lets offer help in place of hate, and build bridges to safer and more humane communities.

Advertisements

Moreauville, LA, update: Officials pledge to suspend enforcement of ban

When the small town of Moreauville, LA, enacted a breed discriminatory law targeting “pit bulls” and Rottweilers, it was a quiet affair.  The law, passed on October 13th, didn’t garner so much as a blip online.

When officials sent a letter to residents demanding they remove their dogs by the first of December all that changed.

As of this post, the story has been picked up by USA Today, CNN, The View,  CBS affiliates, as well as garnering some international coverage and attracting attention from celebrities across the nation.

Two petitions are currently circulating.  One was started by the family of Zeus, who has become a media figurehead of sorts for the village’s breed discriminatory law.  This petition has over 140,000 signatures.  The other was started to focus on a general repeal and has over 10,000 signatures in one day.

The attention that has been given to the issue of breed discriminatory laws by this story has been remarkable.  It has been the media’s driving behind Zeus and his family that has brought so much attention to this issue.  We must stress, however, that this is about more than just one dog.  There are many other families that are at risk.  It is good that there has been something to galvanize people into action, but we cannot lose sight of the larger picture.  Unfortunately, the media has not yet picked up on the larger issues at play.

I was able to speak with two other people who are effected by this ban and asked them each to make a statement.

” I live in Moreauville, LA.  I have 5 kids and a grandson. I have a pit bull named Sugar.  My grandson is 2 and he has been raised with Sugar.  I have a 14 year old son who has ADHD, bipolar, and Aspergers syndrome.  When he is down he talks to Sugar…my dog has never hurt anyone or anything.  She is a part of the family.  It would hurt my kids and my family severely to have a member of the family ripped out…  It is hell to love with the worry of if we’re going to lose our family dog, a part of our family and all the ban will do is hurt innocent people.  The good have to suffer for the bad.

“My Name is Cindy Devens.  The ban in Moreauville, LA, is effecting more than just Zeus and it needs to be addressed…My dogs are emotional support dogs in a way too. I have a member in my household who is diagnosed PTSD and he relies on their love, affection, and his need for care. He needs these dogs too! We served our country for 6 years a piece.  Both of us are Air Force veterans and the other member of my house is a combat veteran with 15+ months served in combat.  We fight for our country and here we are fighting for our dogs!  I’m appalled by the ignorance of this type of law/ban and it has placed a HUGE emotional strain on my household. There have been too many sleepless nights and emotional roller coasters since the papers were dropped off.  No one understands just how bad this could affect someones psyche with these type of issues. We just moved to this town in July… I will not be overlooked just because I am new to town!”

The goal here is not just to keep all the families together, but to repeal the ban and enact a law that will effectively address the issues the community is facing.

This is about more than just one family.  This is about more than many families.  The fight against this law is about the loss of rights, due process, and a missed chance to help make residents safer in their community.

Residents approached the council with legitimate concerns about certain dogs in the community.  These concerns must be addressed.  It is still unclear at this time if there is an animal control agency in town that would be able to enforce any law on the books.  It appears that there are several veterinary clinics that contract with the city to house animals, in lieu of a formal shelter.  City officials had included the name of a veterinary clinic in the meetings minutes, implying that this clinic would be tasked with the “disposition” of banned dogs.

This clinic has made a public statement saying that they have not agreed to this, and that they do not support euthanizing dogs for the enforcement of a ban.  Unfortunately, some people had taken it upon themselves to attack the clinic personally.  This attack is unwarranted and counterproductive.  We would like to take a moment to thank the clinic for making a stand against breed discriminatory laws.

We have agreed to be no part of this ban in Moreauville and were never apart of it. The paper of the minutes stating us as the clinic was done without our knowledge. A letter will be going out to the town of Moreauville this week stating that we will not participate in this ban….All doctors at VCA, both Simmsport and Marksville are in agreement that no dogs brought in due to the ban will be euthanized unless the dog has a history of viscously attacking someone and is unable to be contained to the owners’ premises…

The latest reports coming from Moreauville state that enforcement of the breed discriminatory law will be put on hold until the council has a chance to meet and address concerns about the law.

It was a mistake,” said Alderman Penn Lemoine. “And it’s got to be redone and reworded. And this Dec. 1 date is not going to happen.”

Thus far, officials who have been reached have been open to suggestions that would meet the needs of the residents who complained about issues in the community.  The situation has been extremely confusing because the way the ordinance that has been circulating reads, there are restrictions but officials and the letter residents received clearly state that it is a ban.

Some concerned residents attempted to obtain a signed copy of this ordinance, any general dog laws that are on the books, and the meeting minutes, but the town hall was closed.  Thus far, these documents have been unavailable.

Alderman Penn Lemoine said the board will have a special meeting to address the ordinance.   He also said that they’ll likely overturn the law.

From the article: “Part of the problem the village might need to instead address, Lemoine said, is properly enforcing the village’s leash ordinance rather than banning certain dogs.”

The most productive line of action at this point is to offer solutions to the towns issues.  We do not know if the discussion will continue at the next scheduled meeting, December 8th, or if the board will meet before then. We will update accordingly as information becomes available.

It is imperative that residents attend this meeting to be heard.  Officials have stated that they want to hear from residents specifically.

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.