Officials in South Bend, Indiana have been working on changes to their animal control laws that will better protect animals and the public.
As part of an effort to rewrite the city’s municipal code, we learned in May 2013, that the city council created a committee to discuss issues involving the care and control of animals. The members of that committee have been reviewing and making suggested changes to the animal control code, and one of the proposed changes is the elimination of the section of the law that pertains to the regulation of pit bulls.
Pit bull owners in South Bend are currently required to license their dogs with the city, obtain liability insurance, adhere to strict confinement and muzzling regulations, provide photographs, and tattoo or microchip their dogs.
The current city code automatically deems American Pit Bull Terriers as “dangerous” and defines a “pit bull” as follows:
The breed of dog registered and described by the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) as the American Pit Bull Terrier, also known as the pit bull terrier, and any crossbreed of the American Pit Bull Terrier; but does not include the breeds known as the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the English Bulldog, the Bull Terrier, or the Bulldog, all of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Councilwoman Valerie Schey, who sponsored the move to update the code, and is heading the committee, says updating the entire animal control code is necessary because the current law was written almost twenty years ago, and it is not only outdated, but its vague, making it difficult to enforce and to understand.
The intended goal of the committee is to bring the entire chapter up to today’s standard of care. Schey also believes, as is reflected in her desire to remove the breed specific language from the ordinance, that dogs should be judged dangerous by their temperament and actions, NOT their breed.
Some other changes to the city code being considered include a universal leash law, requiring a special license for dogs deemed dangerous by their actions, as well as requiring those dogs to be spayed or neutered. Also under consideration is the elimination of the current limit on the number of pets in a household, as well as tethering limitations.
A town hall meeting is planned for Thursday, April 17, 2014 at the Martin Luther King Center to talk about the possible overhaul.
South Bend residents, please continue to encourage your city officials to move forward with the proposed changes to create a community that enhances the safety and welfare of both people and animals. In addition, please let Councilwoman Schey know you support her efforts to bring positive change to South Bend.
South Bend Common Council
227 West Jefferson Blvd.,
Suite 400 S
South Bend, Indiana 46601
E-mail for the council as a whole: