At last nights meeting in Enumclaw, Washington, officials voted to keep the current breed ban in place.
The meeting drew a great number of commenters, some from both sides of the issue, but as we have seen before, the commenters for repealing the ban, out weighed those for keeping. There was a small contingent to keep the ban, led by a woman whose child had been attacked by a dog she identified as a “pit bull.” Public comment lasted for over an hour.
The vote to keep the law in place was unanimous. This is interesting considering the vote to repeal was nearly unanimous as well, with only one dissenting vote. The official recommendation per city documentation, was to repeal the existing ban.
There is some speculation that officials did not want to act to repeal with the emotional pressure present.
Though the repeal failed to pass the second reading, officials have said that this is not the end of the discussion. Replacing the ban with restrictions is one idea that is being looked at as well as increasing penalties for those who have dogs that attack.
The ordinance that was for discussion, not only repealed the existing ban. It also would have strengthened the rest of the dangerous dog laws, to better protect the community from negligent owners who fail to exercise proper care and control over their dogs. A companion to the repeal would have adopted the county animal control law, which has been updated far more recently then the cities law.
King County provides animal control for the city, and having laws that are the same is extremely important for the proper enforcement of those laws. Disparity breeds confusion for both residents and those working in official capacity, for the county.
It is unfortunate that officials failed to provide equal recourse for all victims of dog attacks and has failed to act in a manner that would have made for more effective enforcement of Animal Control within the city.
A change to the Enumclaw, WA, ordinance that bans “pit bulls” is working its way through the city council.
The first vote of the repeal was passed on September 22nd, with only one dissenting vote. The second and final reading of the repeal is set to be heard on October 13th.
The current ordinance defines “pit bull” as “any dog over the age of six months known by the owner to be a Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bull Terrier shall mean any Bull Terrier, 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 its breeding the breed of Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier so as to be identifiable as partially of the breed Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier.”
Again, we see the use of the “as an element of its breeding” in the ordinance, which has been successfully challenged in court several times. Because the implication is that even a dog with 1% of the listed breeds is banned, there is a question as to whether, rationally, a dog with 1% of anything could contain the supposed “inherent” behaviors of that breed.
City administrator Chris Searcy stated that the city repeatedly receives requests from residents to repeal the law, showing support for the repeal, specific to residents.
Residents and locals are encouraged to attend the meeting, to show support for the repeal. If you cannot attend this meeting, you can contact the city council to politely and factually support the repeal of the current breed ban, by finding your council members information on the cities website.
A bill has been pre-filed in Washington state that would prevent municipalities from enacting breed discriminatory laws.
The bill, House Bill 2117, was pre-filed for introduction on December 10th, 2013 by Sherry Appleton.
The bill is to amend portions of the state’s dangerous dog statutes, in order to prevent municipalities from being able to enact breed discriminatory laws on the local level.
The introduction to the bill reads as follows:
(1)A number of local jurisdictions have enacted ordinances prohibiting or placing additional restrictions on specific breeds of dogs. While the legislature recognizes that local jurisdictions have a valid public safety interest in protecting citizens from dog attacks, the legislature finds that a dog’s breed is not inherently indicative of whether or not the dog is dangerous and that the criteria for determining whether or not a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous should be focused on the dog’s behavior.
(2) The legislature further finds that breed-specific ordinances fail to address any of the factors that cause dogs to become aggressive and place an undue hardship on responsible dog owners who provide proper socialization and training. The legislature intends to redirect the focus away from particular breeds and to instead encourage local jurisdictions to employ more effective and data-driven prevention models to control dangerous dogs and enhance public safety.
It is not clear at this time how the issues of home rule or grandfather clauses will be addressed.
In 2013 there were 3 states that passed bills that prohibit breed discriminatory laws. These laws passed with overwhelming support from legislators and received overwhelming support from residents of those states.
It is well documented that a multi-faceted community based approach to dangerous dogs is far more effective than breed discriminatory laws. These types of laws protect the property rights of responsible owners and require that the issue of dangerous dogs be looked at comprehensively.
Washington state residents: Please reach out to your Senators and Representatives and respectfully ask them to support this bill. It is important for residents to be involved in the legislative process and voice their support of such bills. Legislators cannot act on their constituents interests if they are not expressed.
You can find your legislator via the states website here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/