Tag Archives: westwego louisiana breed specific legislation

Westwego Louisiana Councilman pulls breed ban

The town of Westwego Louisiana can breathe a bit easier.  Councilman Glen Green, who has been adamantly pushing a breed ban, has pulled the ordinance.

A friend and constituent of Councilman Green’s was severely injured after being attacked by her boyfriend’s dogs, which were identified by the couple as pit bulls.  Early reports quoted Green as saying that he blamed the dogs owner, the victim’s boyfriend, saying he “did not properly take care of his animals.”

In spite of this, Green had been pushing to make Westwego’s current breed discriminatory ordinance into an all out ban.

There had been a lot of confusion about what the proposal actually entailed, with some even claiming that this proposal was not a breed discriminatory ordinance, based on massive miscommunication from some in the area. Westwego’s full ordinance can be viewed here.  It is clear from reading the ordinance that this was a ban.  Only dogs registered within 60 days of the ordinances passage would have been allowed to stay, and only after the owners complied with a long list of requirements including $100,000 in liability insurance, confinement requirements inside and outside the house, spay/neuter and a host of other regulations.

According to a story on NOLA.com, Green pulled the proposal indefinitely after failing to garner the support of his fellow council members.

A public hearing was held on the matter, during which clear opposition came from the newly elected council members, as well as the residents.  Only one resident spoke in favor of a breed discriminatory ordinance but, according to the report, they supported the current breed discriminatory law that is on the books in Westwego.  Current law requires owners of pit bulls to confine the dog in a kennel when not under the supervision of the owner or inside the house and restrict the number of targeted dogs allowed.  The owner of the dogs involved in the attack was in violation of all the current restrictions in Westwego.

One Councilman pointed out that the insurance was impossible to get. Insurance coverage in Louisiana tends to be extremely discriminatory towards certain breeds of dogs, making getting coverage nearly impossible.  Coverage that could have been obtained is incredibly expensive.

The most profound statement in the article was made by Fifth District Councilman Larry Warino Sr., “Legislation after the fact is sometimes not the best legislation.”

Councilman Green claims that he has received death threats over this matter.  It is never right to threaten officials, no matter how much we may disagree with their opinion.  Councilman Green’s heart was in the right place, feeling that he was doing something to try to protect the community and finding justice for the victim, who Green described as a close friend.  The fact that he did not know the repercussions of this ordinance speaks more to a lack of knowledge on the topic than anything else.  It is never to the benefit of the community to speak out of anger or emotion.  One could say that this ordinance was drafted out of emotion.  We can and must do better.  The facts are on the side of owner focused, breed neutral laws.  The case for public safety needs no threats or emotional pleas to be recognized and is better received when those things are left out of the discussion.

The injuries the victim suffered are life altering in a way many of us will never be able to comprehend. When a friend is hurt this way, we all experience anger and a sense of helplessness.  Often breed discriminatory laws are proposed or enacted as a result of these feelings.  Cooler heads must prevail on all sides in order for the community to benefit and become a safe and humane community for all.

Though Green is saying his proposal is pulled indefinitely, it may still become an issue in the future.  When an official does not let a proposal get voted down, it usually means they intend to bring it forward in the future.  Now would be the time for residents and locals to reach out to offer strong breed neutral alternative.  We do hope that officials take a look at their current laws to find the weaknesses and strengthen them in a breed neutral way to make everyone safe from reckless dog owners, no matter what their dog looks like.

Thank you Ken Foster and the Sula Foundation for the ordinance and for your continued work in the area fighting for a breed neutral law.

Advertisements

Westwego Louisiana Councilman to propose breed ban

Councilman Glen Green has been talking about a push to increase restrictions on dogs deemed to be pit bulls since a horrific attack on a constituent and friend earlier this year.  He plans to bring these regulations to the City Council on Monday.

The changes to the law, should they pass, would ban any dog deemed to be a “pit bull” that is not registered in the city. Those that are registered would be subject to a list of requirements. Owners would have to be older than 21, unless the dog is being used as a service dog, dogs must be muzzled in public, spayed or neutered and microchipped and the owner must have a homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance of at least $100,000.  It is interesting that Councilman Green has thought about the service dog issue but not surprising that he would not understand the breadth of the hardship such regulations would impose on a person with disabilities.

Unlicensed animals would be killed if the owner fails to remove the dog from the city immediately and the owners fined $500.

The dogs would be DNA tested to determine if they fall under the restrictions but there is no clarification at this time as to what breeds are going to be included. Officials say 50% would be considered restricted. Also not specified is what kind of DNA test is acceptable, since saliva is notoriously unreliable and even blood tests do not meet the standards to be admissible in court.

Councilman Green apparently is well aware that this law would be extremely expensive but according to a recent interview he plans on paying for it out of his discretionary fund.  An important question is what happens when the Council either no longer has the funds to pay for it, or is no longer willing to take that money out of the fund?  What happens when that fund is needed for more pressing matters than targeting dogs based on appearance? No doubt they have not thought that far ahead and in the end the tax payers will bear the burden of enforcing a law that Councilman Green wants to be strictly enforced.

Councilman Green acknowledges that the dogs themselves are not the problem. He stated that “The rationale is to control the pet owners, not so much the pets … We’ve got to do something to get their attention.”

What he does not seem to realize, though, is that he is doing exactly the opposite of what he intends. The things that he plans on introducing are targeting the dog, not the owner, and will not help to increase public safety.

Westwego residents and locals: Please reach out to the members of the Westwego City Council and if at all possible attend the meetings to voice opposition to breed discrimination. It is important to remember that the attack that happened was a terrible tragedy. Emotions are bound to run high, but nothing is ever accomplished by reacting emotionally.  Be factual and respectful in all correspondence. Offer strong breed neutral alternatives that would target problem owners instead of dogs. You can find alternatives to breed discrimination here. The Council is not interested in how much people love their dogs, they are interested in real effective ways to help make the community safer. Though the methods they are choosing are not the solution, their hearts are in the right place.

Councilman Glen Green: glenngreen@netzero.com

Councilman Ted Munch: TedMunch@cityofwestwego.com

Councilman Ivy Rogers: ivyrogers@cityofwestwego.com

Councilman Melvin Guidry: melvin.guidry@nov.com

Councilman Larry Warino: LWarino4westwego@aol.com

Westwego Louisiana officials introduce strict breed discriminatory requirements

Earlier we reported that a councilman in Westwego was seeking to make it more difficult for people to own certain types of dogs following a severe attack on one of his constituents and friend.  The changes to the law are officially up for consideration by the entire council.

The restrictions include insurance requirements, a minimum age of 21 years for any owner of a targeted dog, stiff confinement regulations inside and outside the home, warning signs, spay/neuter and microchipping.

Interestingly, officials are addressing the specific idea of mix breeds.  These restrictions would apply to pure breed dogs by default. In the case of mixed breed dogs they must be DNA tested in order to determine if they would fall under the regulations. Dogs over 50% “pit bull” would have to comply.   The Mayor supports these changes as well as the DNA testing.

Some immediate issues that stand out. There is no mention yet of who would be responsible for the cost of testing. There is also no mention of how the costs of enforcing these restrictions would be absorbed by the community.  Increasingly problematic is how officials intend to police how people are confining their dogs in their own homes.

Officials have said that they will wait until the new council members are seated in office, and that they will hold public hearings on the matter.

Residents and locals: Please continue to reach out to officials to urge them to institute breed neutral alternatives. Be polite, be respectful and offer solutions. A list of alternatives can be found here.

Contact information:

City Council
Phone: 504-341-3424

Mayor John Shaddinger, Jr.
mayor@cityofwestwego.com

Council Member Glenn Green
glenngreen@netzero.com

Council Member Melvin Guidry
melvin.guidry@nov.com

Council Member  Ted Munch
TedMunch@cityofwestwego.com

Council Member Ivy Rogers
ivyrogers@cityofwestwego.com

Council Member Larry Warino
LWarino4westwego@aol.com

Westwego Louisiana Councilman seeks to add breeds to ordinance

Following an attack on a woman in Westwego Louisiana, Councilman Glen Green has sworn to add more breeds of dogs to the cities dangerous dog laws, which currently single out pit bulls.

Westwego’s law, which was passed in 2000, requires owners of pit bull type dogs to keep the dogs confined in kennels when not on leash or with their owners. Kennels must be made of chain link fencing at least six feet high, five feet from the property line, and 20 feet from neighboring homes. Failure to do so results in a fine of $250.

Though Councilman Green has not said exactly which breeds will be added, he has mentioned Rottweilers specifically. According to Green, he will be seeking additional support from other members of the council before approaching this issue. He was quoted in a recent news story saying “If they want to challenge it in court, so be it. There are several breeds that I’m putting in there.”

What is rather unfortunate is that these challenges will cost everyone in the city by making poor use of tax payer dollars. Councilman Green says that he blames the owner of these dogs for not taking care of them properly, yet he is choosing to target the dogs instead.  Not the attacking dogs, but dogs that he has a perception of as being vicious.

Councilman Green knew the victim personally.

Residents: Please respectfully, and sympathetically reach out to your council members to ask that they look into a strong and enforceable breed neutral law instead of adding breeds to their restrictions. The urge, after such a terrible incident, is to act but actions taken must still be in the best interests of the community at large.  No amount of breed specific laws would have stopped this heartbreaking incident.  By creating a comprehensive breed neutral ordinance with stiff penalties for violation serious incidents like this can be reduced.

Officials can be found here. It is of absolute utmost importance that, when communicating after an attack this severe, you remain unimpeachable in your professionalism in every communication.  This is not about dogs.  This is about creating a safer community for the residents of Westwego. Breed specific laws divert resources from the real obstacles to making communities safer, which is why breed neutral laws have been shown repeatedly to increase public safety.

Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the victim of this attack and all the friends and  family of the victim.