Tag Archives: Rottweiler

Missouri HB 1116 to prohibit breed discrimination on the state level passes committee

A bill in Missouri that would prohibit municipalities from enacting breed discriminatory laws has been heard by the House judiciary Committee.

HB 1116 is very simple.  The bill seeks to add an amendment to the current state code that reads: “273.195. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit in any manner the authority of any village, town, or city to prohibit dogs from running at large or to further control or regulate dogs within its boundaries; provided that, no such ordinances, orders, policies, or regulations are specific to breed.”

Missouri HB 1116 has been passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.   The committee voted 13-2 for the bill.  HB 1116 now goes to the full house for a vote.    If it passes the full House, the bill will move to the Senate side, where it will go through the same process of committees and hearings by the Senate.  If it passes the full Senate the bill will then need to be signed by the Governor.

The legislative process is a long one, but it is important that residents continue to contact their Senators and Representatives expressing support for this bill.

There is currently no date set for the next reading.

Some have said that there are some legislators who have received correspondence against the bill, so it is important that those residents that support the bill reach out to their legislators and ask them to support it as well.

Missouri residents can find their specific legislators in the Senate here.  House representatives can be found here.

This post has been edited to reflect that there is no second committee hearing, as was reported by a local organization.  The bill is moving to the full House so residents should contact their Representatives to ask them to support this bill.

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Maryland HB 422 hearing overview

The House Judiciary Committee met to hear HB 422, a bill that would prevent breed discriminatory laws on the state level.

According to the bills sponsor, the bill was submitted due to the Solesky decision.   The bill, which if it remains as is, would outlaw breed discriminatory laws on the state level, repeal existing ordinances and prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenets with certain breeds of dogs.

The bills sponsor pointed out the some of the numerous issues caused by BDL and the precedent of the 17 states that currently outlaw BDL and the additional states that are considering anti-BDL bills this year.

Right away one member of the committee raise the issue of Prince George’s County and what would happen to their ban.  The sponsor stated that it was her intention that existing ordinances would be grandfathered in, but the language of the bill does not allow for that.  The bills sponsor said that she would amend to clarify that issue.

It is important to note that the Chief of Prince George’s County Animal Management Division was present and testified in support of the bill.  He was asked to testify for the bill by the head on the Animal Management Services Division.  During what was a compelling testimony, he stated that 793 dogs were confiscated under the ban in the 2013 fiscal year.   Roughly 75% of confiscated dogs were euthanized.  $250,000 have been spent in Prince George’s County on enforcement of the ban in 2 years.  He also testified that the number one biter was either labs or cocker spaniels.  He stated that the ban has done nothing for Prince George’s County but separate well-behaved dogs from good families and that the focus needs to be on effective solutions.  He testified that the ban has not worked for Prince George’s County.

The portion of the bill which was most hotly contested was the portion relating to landlords.  Many people testified in support of the bill, with the exception of that particular portion.  Considering that the legislature has failed to address the effects of the court ruling, that particular portion of the bill would put landlords in an impossible position.  Again, amendments were suggested to remove the language pertaining to landlord discrimination.

Many people testified in support of the bill, but very oppose it.  Not surprisingly, Tony Solesky, whose son was the center point in the appeals court ruling, testified against.  There was a pattern during that day’s hearing.  There were many bills regarding dangerous dogs that were heard.  Tony Solesky testified against every single one regarding dangerous dogs, and spent the entire time focusing on breed instead of lobbying for effective solutions that have a chance of effecting change, and passing through the process.

For example, HB 371 was heard.  This bill is to strengthen the dangerous dog laws in breed neutral way.  Increasing penalties, and strengthening the requirements for those who have dangerous dogs.  Solesky testified against strengthening the dangerous dog laws because it was breed neutral and behavior based and tried to lobby for the bill to be breed based, saying that Maryland should be able to “…simply eliminate certain breeds of dogs the same way we eliminate, why wild animals aren’t allowed among us.”

This stark opposition to any form of solidifying the dangerous dog laws in a breed neutral way is confounding.  Victims are no more or less of a victim if they are attacked by one type of dog or another.  We point to this specifically in order to show that the issue is not really about public safety for the pro-BDL lobby.

Maryland legislators have heard a lot of information about the failures of breed discriminatory laws over the last few years.  Many of them come into the hearing for HB 422 extremely well versed in the failures and short comings of such legislation.

As things stand now, the committee has not acted.  Because the sponsor has said that she is drafting amendments to the bill, it is possible that the committee will not act on the bill until that is done.

Residents of Maryland please reach out and write a brief letter of support for this bill to the committee.

Joseph.vallario@house.state.md.us
Kathleen.dumais@house.state.md.us
Curt.anderson@house.state.md.us
Sam.arora@house.state.md.us
Jill.carter@house.state.md.us
Luke.clippinger@house.state.md.us
John.cluster@house.state.md.us
Frank.conaway@house.state.md.us
Glen.glass@house.state.md.us
Michael.hough@house.state.md.us
Kevin.kelly@house.state.md.us
Susan.lee@house.state.md.us
Susan.mccomas@house.state.md.us
Mike.mcdermott@house.state.md.us
Keiffer.mitchell@house.state.md.us
Neil.parrott@house.state.md.us
Samuel.rosenberg@house.state.md.us
Luiz.simmons@house.state.md.us
Michael.smigiel@house.state.md.us
Kris.valderrama@house.state.md.us
Geraldine.valentino.smith@house.state.md.us
Jeff.waldstreicher@house.state.md.us

Maryland HB 422 would prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level

A bill that has been introduced in Maryland that would prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level is being heard by the House Judiciary Committee today.

The catalyst for this bill is likely the situation with the Maryland court of appeals ruling that found “pure breed pit bulls” to be inherently dangerous, and that landlords were to be held strictly liable if a tenants “pit bull” caused injury to some one.

HB 422 , a bill which currently has 10 sponsors, would do several things.  The first is that it would prevent municipalities from enacting dangerous dog laws on the local level that single out any one breed or type of dog.  This bill would also prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to a person based on the heritage of their dog, as well as protecting renters from eviction because of their dog.

This is the first state-wide bill to specifically address landlord discrimination in rental practices based on the appearance of the dog.  It is not surprising that this would come out of Maryland at this time, considering the issues that have arisen out of the Tracey v Solesky ruling.

The pertinent text of the bill is listed below.   

” (B) A MUNICIPALITY MAY NOT:
(1) ADOPT AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING A PERSON FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DETERMINE A DOG TO BE A NUISANCE, POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS, OR INHERENTLY DANGEROUS, OR OTHERWISE REGULATE A DOG BASED ON THE BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE OF THE DOG.

12 13–102.1. (A) THIS SECTION MAY NOT BE CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT A COUNTY FROM RESTRICTING THE OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING OF A DANGEROUS DOG, AS DEFINED IN § 10–619(A) OF THE CRIMINAL LAW ARTICLE, OR A DOG THAT HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS IN ACCORDANCE WITH § 10–619(C) OF THE CRIMINAL LAW ARTICLE.
(B) A COUNTY MAY NOT:
(1) ENACT A LOCAL LAW PROHIBITING A PERSON FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DETERMINE A DOG TO BE A NUISANCE, POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS, OR INHERENTLY DANGEROUS, OR OTHERWISE REGULATE A DOG BASED ON THE BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE OF THE DOG…

(C) REGARDLESS OF THE TERMS OF ANY CONTRACT, DEED, COVENANT, RESTRICTION, INSTRUMENT, DECLARATION, RULE, BYLAW, LEASE AGREEMENT, RENTAL AGREEMENT, OR ANY OTHER DOCUMENT, A HOMEOWNER OR TENANT MAY NOT BE:
(1) PROHIBITED FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DENIED OCCUPANCY IN OR EVICTED FROM RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY SOLELY BECAUSE THE PERSON OWNS, KEEPS, OR HARBORS A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE.”

This bill also specifically addresses current breed discriminatory ordinances, and would nullify them. This means that any and all existing breed discriminatory laws would be repealed by this bill.

Nothing in the bill prohibits any municipality, or landlord from rejecting dogs that have proven, based on their behavior, to be dangerous.

One of the largest issues effecting shelter populations of typically targeted dogs is a lack of pet friendly rentals.  This bill is an opportunity to address this problem and will set the precedent for other states to do the same, as well as repealing the long-standing breed discriminatory ordinances in Maryland.  The bill is set for its first hearing today.  Local groups have been working hard on support for this bill.

When the hearing is completed, we will know more specifically what is needed from Maryland residents in order to help support passage of this bill.

New York bill to prohibit insurance discrimination ordered to third reading

Last year a bill was introduced in the New York state legislature that would address breed discrimination in insurance practices.

The bill, A3952, would prohibit insurance companies that conduct business in New York state from canceling or refusing to issue a policy based solely on the breed of the clients dogs.  The bill died in the Senate during the 2013 session because the session ended.

Not only would this bill prevent companies from refusing to issue or canceling coverage, this bill would also prevent differential pricing based on the breed of dog of the insured.

The direct language of the bill states that,

NO INSURER SHALL REFUSE TO ISSUE OR
    6  RENEW, CANCEL, OR CHARGE OR IMPOSE AN INCREASED PREMIUM OR RATE FOR SUCH
    7  POLICY OR CONTRACT BASED SOLELY UPON HARBORING OR OWNING ANY  DOG  OF  A
    8  SPECIFIC BREED OR MIXTURE OF BREEDS.

The bill does not prevent insurers from canceling or refusing coverage to dogs who have been declared dangerous or have a bite history or history of aggressive behavior specific to that dog.

On January 8th the bill was reintroduced to the New York legislature.   The Senate returned the bill to assembly.    The bill was then ordered to its third reading.

A3952 is on the calendar for  Wednesday, January 22nd 2014.

This bill would help so many people in the community.

It would help renters by eliminating discriminatory policies for those who own property, making it easier for landlords who would be open to renting to some one with a targeted dog to do so.  This increases housing options and as a result, owner retention in situations where people have to move.

They also help to compensate victims of dog bites by increasing the pool of covered owners.

They also help a lot of dog owners.  Insurance companies can restrict any breed of dog they wish.  There are currently quite a few breeds and mixes that cannot get coverage.  This is NOT just a “pit bull” issue.  It effects the owners of German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Rottweilers, Akita, Husky, Malamute, every dog that is on one insurance list or another.

NEW YORK RESIDENTS:  Please reach out now and tell your legislators that you support this bill.

You can find you Assembly members on the states website here.

Because of the powerful opposition to any form of insurance regulations, it is incredibly important that legislators constituents reach out to support such measures.

2013 breed discrimination year in review

In 2012, everyone felt the tide was turning against breed discriminatory laws.  This year is no different.  The following is a list of confirmed passages, repeals and refusals of breed discriminatory laws in 2013.

In 2013, 3 states passed laws on the state level that prohibit breed discriminatory laws.  Connecticut, Nevada and Rhode Island joined the other states that had previously outlawed breed discrimination on the state level.

This year we saw the effects of Massachusetts’ 2012 passage of a law prohibiting breed discriminatory laws, with all the municipalities in the state repealing their laws, instead of attempting to fight to keep them.  Boston was the only municipality that made an attempt to create an exemption in the state law that failed.  There are still a few that need to be confirmed as having removed their laws from the books officially.  Those listed are ones that have been confirmed as removed from the cities code of ordinances via e-mail or phone.

The following municipalities in MA repealed their breed discriminatory laws, to be in compliance with the state law:

-Amesbury
-Boston
-Canton
-Everett
-Haverhill
-Lynn
-Medway
-Rockland
-Winthrop
-Whitman

The following municipalities have repealed a breed discriminatory law in 2013:

-Basehor, Kansas
-Osawatomie, Kansas
-Garnett, Kansas
-Riverside Missouri
-Annapolis, Missouri
-Waunakee, Wisconsin
-Darlington, Wisconsin
-Bessemer, Pennsylvania
-Wooster, Ohio
-Pickering, Ohio
-Orrville, Ohio
-Welsh, Louisiana

The following places had a partial repeal of their breed discriminatory laws:

-Newark, Ohio
-Bloomer, Wisconsin
-Dodge City, Kansas

The following places rejected breed discriminatory laws:

-Waterloo, Iowa
-Camanche, Iowa
-Ringstead, Iowa
-Baker City, Oregon
-Breckenridge, Colorado
-Greybull, Wyoming
-Watertown, Wisconsin
-Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
-Rockaway Beach, Missouri
-Westwego, Louisiana
-Columbus, Nebraska
-Great Bend, Kansas
-Manderson, Wyoming (rejected adding additional  breeds to existing ban)
-Flint, Michigan
-Lansing, Michigan
-Royal Oak, Michigan
-Broward County, Florida
-Bronwood, Georgia

The following states had failed attempts to pass breed discriminatory laws at the state level or to repeal state level prohibitions on BDL:

-North Carolina
-Tennessee
-Rhode Island
-Oklahoma
-Massachusetts

The following places passed a breed discriminatory law:

-Riverside City, California (spay/neuter)
-Riverside County, California (spay/neuter)
-Dover Arkansas (ban)
-Garland County, Arkansas (confinement)
-Murfreesboro, Arkansas (ban)
-Livingston County, Kentucky (restrictions)
-Clay, Alabama (ban: In litigation)
-Bluefield, West Virginia (ban)
-Hornbeak, Tennessee (restrictions)
-Schuyler, Nebraska (restrictions)

In Summation, we have 3 states pass prohibitions against breed discriminatory laws and 5 states who rejected either a state-wide restriction, or an attempt to repeal the prohibitions against BDL.  One of those states, Rhode Island, went from a bill to restrict breeds at the state level, to a prohibition against breed discriminatory laws at the state level in one year.

Additionally, New Mexico and Georgia both proposed state level prohibitions.  New Mexico came close to passing a state level prohibition against BDL, but the legislative session ended before a final vote was taken.  The bill had passed all other steps nearly unanimously.   The Georgia prohibition was attached to some very controversial measures and though legislators were supportive of the aspect addressing BDL, they were not supportive of the other sections, so the bill died.  At least 5 states looked into prohibiting discrimination in insurance practices, Maine, New York, Maryland, West Virginia and Massachusetts.  Most of these bills were tabled for study.

There were 10 passages this year that effect 14 distinct breeds, and their mixes, as well as wolf hybrids.  The breeds effected by the places that passed these laws are as follows: Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Akitas, Chows, American Bulldogs, Dogo Argentino,  Presa Canario, Cane Corso, American Bandogge and Wolf hybrids.

There were 12 municipalities who decided, based on the evidence, to repeal their breed discriminatory laws, and 10 that repealed due to a state law having been enacted, bringing total repeals to at least 20.

There were at least 18 municipalities who had a proposal that was rejected.  This number is actually much higher than what is listed here.  The reason for this is that there are quite a few places that had a proposal or recommendation that was breed discriminatory that has not been officially rejected, but rather “tabled indefinitely.”  Only places that officially rejected a proposal or recommendation were counted.

While we tend to focus on places considering breed based laws, it is important to note that there have been hundreds of places (at the very least) that amended their dangerous dog laws in 2013.  Only a very small minority ever even consider targeting certain breeds or types of dogs.  

Breed discriminatory laws are not the norm now, nor have they ever been.

We try our hardest to make sure these numbers are as accurate as possible but there may be some omissions.  Should there be something we missed, that is between the dates of January 1st, 2013 and December 31st, 2013 that can be confirmed, please feel free to reach out to us at StopBSL.org@gmail.com, so that we may correct the omission.

Basehor Kansas removes multi breed restrictions

Basehor Kansas had a breed discriminatory law in place that restricted “pit bulls”, Rottweilers and wolf-hybrids since 2003, when a dog identified as a pit bull attacked a farmer’s livestock.

Pit bull was defined in the ordinance as Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and any dog that had “the appearance and characteristic of being predominantly” of those breeds.  Rottweilers and wolf-hybrids were virtually undefined.  Rottweilers were identified by the owner registering the dog as a Rottweiler, which, under the old law, was prima facia evidence of the dog being subject to the law.  There was no section on how wolf-hybrids were identified or defined, which means that Husky, Malamute and related breeds and their mixes were likely targeted.

The ordinance required owners to confine their dogs in line with the law, carry $200,000 in insurance and muzzle targeted dogs, among a whole host of other requirements.  The old ordinance was 6 pages of requirements and restrictions for the above mentioned dogs, their mixes and look a likes.

Officials cite the difficulty in enforcing the law and it’s overly restrictive nature as the reasons for repealing it.  The police chief stated that when there was a vicious dog call, there was virtually no way to enforce the ordinance as it was written.

The police chief also stated that in order to comply with the old law a person should just not have the dog in the first place because of how restrictive it is.  We call this a de-facto ban, and is often the case with breed discriminatory restrictions.  Particularly so in this case because people only had ten days to come into compliance when the old law was passed.

Officials wanted to make their community more open for people.  “We want everybody to come to our community,” Chief Lloyd Martley stated in an interview.

The new ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the council, is completely breed neutral.  It requires that dogs deemed vicious based on their behavior be on leash when outside their kennel or home, confined in a secure kennel or inside the home, all owners of dogs must have a beware of dog sign posted and all owners of dogs must register their dogs with the city.

Breckenridge Colorado is considering a breed discriminatory law

After a dog related incident that was attributed to a dog officials describe as “pit bull terrier”, officials in Breckenridge Colorado are investigating the possibility of enacting a breed discriminatory law.  The incident in question involved a dog on dog attack.

Though Colorado state law prohibits breed based laws, Denver had successfully sued against the state based on what is called home rule.  Denver won the case, effectively opening the door to a home rule city in Colorado being allowed to enact similar laws.

Simply put, home rule is a town charter that allows a municipality the right to self governance, independent of the laws of the state.

A report created by the chief of police mentions the ability of home rule jurisdictions to be able to pass these laws.

From the report:

In 2004, the State of Colorado passed a statute prohibiting municipalities from enacting breed specific bans. The City and County of Denver filed a civil complaint citing their ability as a Home Rule entity to enact and enforce legislation as a matter of local or jurisdictional concern. The District Court upheld the right of a Home Rule municipality “to regulate dangerous dogs within its community”.

This report appears to be an investigation of the other places in Colorado that have breed discriminatory laws in place.  There was no official recommendation but the report mentions a work session that was scheduled for September 10th.

Officials set up a survey for community feedback on the issue.

Under the item asking if a person feels some breeds are more dangerous than others, there are several breeds listed for people to indicate which dogs they feel are more dangerous.

The breeds listed are Doberman, Mastiff, German Shepherd, pit bull, Malamute, Chow, Rottweiler, Husky and an “other” category.

According to the minutes of the August 27th meeting, a council member raised the issue of the dog attack, which occurred during a cycling event.

This was taken directly from the minutes of that meeting,  “Mr. Gallagher mentioned the pit bull terrier incident on Hoosier Pass during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. He stated he believes Breckenridge should get in front of the situation and do something about aggressive dogs in general and pit bulls in particular. Mayor Warner polled the Council on their thoughts about this issue and the decision was made to charge staff with identifying problem breeds and look to see what other communities have done regarding this issue.

The statement of “identifying problem breeds” implies what the survey backs up, that, should they continue down this path, they will be restricting multiple breeds, their mixes and look a likes.

The minutes from a subsequent meeting contain the following excerpt, “We would like to have a bigger discussion about dogs and people being irresponsible with their pets. Look for some more conversation in the community.”

Residents of Breckenridge should reach out now to their council members and ask that all dog owners be held to the same standards.  The importance of making sure that everyone in the community is safe from dangerous dogs of all kinds should be stressed.  Politely and respectfully oppose any breed discriminatory laws and point out their failure to improve public safety.  Since officials were looking at Denver, you can view information on Denver’s failure here: http://www.nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dogbites/state-by-state-information/co/denver

Breed neutral alternatives can be found here: https://stopbsl.org/alternatives-to-bsl/

There is no direct contact information available for the Mayor or the Town Council but there is an online contact form available on the cities website.