South Bend, IN: Town Hall Meeting on proposed changes to animal control ordinance – including removal of BSL

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entire animal control code is necessary because the current law was written almost twenty years ago, and it is not only outdated, but its vague, making it difficult to enforce and to understand.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
(574) 235-9321

E-mail for the council as a whole:

Riverside, AL: Officials discuss possible leash law, breed ban

Officials in Riverside, Alabama are contemplating passing a leash law after a child was killed by an unleashed dog last week.  During Tuesday’s city council meeting, the floor was open to the public, allowing anyone to voice their concerns about the city’s potential plans.

A resident brought up the issue of banning vicious dogs, specifically naming “pit bulls,” and citing inaccurate information about the breed, and it would appear that all suggestions brought up at the meeting are currently on the table.

The mayor acknowledged that city leaders have to sift through many details before bringing an ordinance to the table, and he wanted to hear from people on both sides of the issues – including enacting a leash law and banning specific breeds of dogs. He added that the law will include steep fines for anyone who violates it.

The mayor hopes to have an initial reading and vote on a proposed ordinance by the first city council meeting in May.

Residents of Riverside need to reach out to their city officials NOW, before an ordinance is introduced, with their suggestions and input.  Encourage them to pass and strictly enforce a leash law, and hold reckless and irresponsible dog owners accountable for the actions of their dogs. In addition, let them know that breed specific legislation will only create more problems for the city while, at the same time, instilling a false sense of security for residents.

An excellent reference to share with city officials is the NAIA’s Guide to Constructing Pet Friendly Ordinances which will lay the groundwork for an ordinance that will enhance the safety and welfare of ALL the members of the Riverside community, people and animals alike.

Randolph County, AR shoots down possibility of pit bull ordinance

Dozens of Randolph County residents showed up at Thursday night’s quorum court meeting, many of them addressing county officials, expressing their concerns over a local woman’s attempt to ban pit bulls in the county and explaining the problems associated with breed specific laws.

Not long into the public comments, Judge David Jansen explained that the issue had been blown out of proportion.  If you recall, a previous news report by KAIT8 indicated that dozens of residents would be attending the meeting in SUPPORT of a pit bull ban.

In light of the many breed specific ordinances that have been passed in Arkansas within the last six months, I’m extremely proud of the residents of Randolph County who came out in force to ensure their officials know exactly where they stand on laws that discriminate against specific breeds of dogs.

Judge Jansen went on to advise those in attendance that the members of the quorum court have no intention of pursuing a breed specific law.

The officials did, however, vote to establish a five person committee to draft a vicious dog ordinance. That committee will consist of two Justices of the Peace, two Randolph County citizens, and Sheriff Gary Tribble.

Many thanks to all those who heeded our call to action and made their voices heard at the meeting last night. Not only did county officials shoot down any possibility of moving forward with a breed specific ordinance, but they are now drafting an ordinance that will enhance the safety and welfare of all members of Randolph County by addressing irresponsible dog owners and dogs that actually pose a threat to the community based on their actions and behaviors, instead of a law that deems dogs dangerous due to their breed or appearance.

I’m disappointed the latest report by KAIT8 didn’t advise whether county officials addressed the dog owner at the root of the complaints that led to this issue coming before the quorum court, but I am hopeful the forthcoming ordinance will resolve the problems caused by that habitually irresponsible owner.

Move to regulate pit bulls throughout Riverside County, CA hits a roadblock

A proposal to mandate the sterilization of pit bull dogs in Indio, California died at Wednesday’s City Council meeting after council members opted not to take the item up for a formal vote.

The ordinance was brought to the table by Mayor Michael Wilson, who touted statistics provided by Riverside County which relate to the county as a whole, and are not relevant to Indio specifically.

Council members expressed concern with respect to the severe monetary penalties already in place for dog owners who do not comply with the current law, and the belief that further regulation and expense would only compound the city’s problems by creating more stray animals.  They felt that residents would simply abandon their animals due to their financial inability to comply with the law.

Accordingly, the proposal received no support from council members, and was tabled.

This past October, Riverside County supervisors passed an ordinance that requires the sterilization of all pit bulls over the age of four months, citing public safety and a desire to limit the population. The ordinance applies to the unincorporated ares of the county.   However, county officials expressed their intention to promote the ordinance in order to ensure ALL the cities within the county adopted it as their own.

In an interview with KNX1070, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone advised that the County’s goal is to “pass the ordinance in the remaining twenty-eight cities in the county” because pit bulls are “bred to be dangerous.”

The county’s ordinance doesn’t define what a “pit bull” is but, instead, leaves breed identification to the subjective judgment of animal control officers.

The Lake Elsinore, CA city council has also been debating a mandatory spay/neuter law for pit bulls based on Riverside County’s ordinance.  The initial vote on the proposal was passed by the city council on March 11, 2014.  During that meeting, the Riverside County’s chief veterinarian, Allan Drusys, described the procedure to identify pit bulls as follows:

“My staff, including Rob Miller [the director of Riverside County Animal Control], think identifying pit bulls is kinda like pornography. Its difficult to describe, but people seem to be able to identify it when they see it.”

At their meeting on March 25, Lake Elsinore council members advised that since the introduction of the proposal, they had met with animal welfare representatives and members of the public, and had also reviewed educational materials received related to the problems associated with breed specific regulations, including the difficulty of identifying pit bulls, as well as statistics that reflect mandatory spay/neuter laws actually increase shelter intake..

The mayor, along with the majority of the council, expressed an interest in a spay/neuter ordinance that would apply to ALL dogs, and not specifically target “pit bulls. ”  In addition, they agreed that their goal is to raise adoption rates at the shelter and ultimately get away from euthanizing shelter animals, and they believed there was not a plan in place to address the city’s issues with pet overpopulation.

Ultimately, the council decided to put the issue off until their first meeting in May.  The options currently under consideration include (1) falling in line with Riverside County and adopting the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance specifically for pit bulls and (2) an ordinance that would require all dogs to be spayed or neutered.

Please continue to reach out to the Lake Elsinore officials and encourage them to focus on their stated goal of decreasing the number of animals in the shelter which can be achieved by offering low cost or free spay/neuter services for the community, as well as programs to educate residents on responsible pet ownership.

Mayor and City Council,,,,

Lake Elsinore City Hall
130 South  Main St.
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
Phone: (951) 674-3124
Fax: (951) 674-2392

Pit bull ordinance to be introduced 4/22/14 in Lafourche Parish, LA

Councilman John Arnold is drafting an ordinance that would require “pit bulls” to have special permits in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. According to Arnold, the regulations involve pit bull owners “agreeing to nurture their dog in a responsible manner” and to obtain a permit.

The proposal, which is still being drafted, would allow parish officials to inspect the living conditions of the dogs from time to time, and if someone is caught keeping such a dog without permission, they would first be fined, and on the second offense the dog would be confiscated.

The proposed regulations are in response to an attack last week in Terrebonne Parish in which a child was killed by a dog police originally identified as a “pit bull,” but is now believed to be a mixed breed dog. It should be noted that officials in Terrebonne Parish have advised they are not considering altering their current ordinance which they feel is strong enough and could not have prevented an attack which occurred inside the home where the child lived.

In support of his proposal, Councilman Arnold states that he believes there are “hundreds” of attacks by pit bulls each day throughout the country. He says pit bulls are bred to be vicious and have an instinct to kill, but that the fault sits with their owners, who raise them in conditions that fosters aggressiveness.

Arnold went on to advise that these “bad dogs” can be found in the “bad neighborhoods” of the Parish, where they are chained to trees and not taken care of, yet went on to say that keeping a pit bull in an apartment is not the condition in which they should be living either.

Arnold acknowledges that the push to enact breed specific legislation will not be popular with some, and he is open to suggestions from all about how the final ordinance should work.

Please send your polite and respectful opposition to breed specific legislation to the Lafourche Parish officials listed below. Please also provide officials with viable alternatives and suggestions for their consideration that actually target the problems in the Parish, such as regulating the manner in which dogs can be tethered, increased enforcement efforts in the areas Arnold characterized as “bad neighborhoods” where the problems are occurring, and educational programs that would teach responsible ownership practices in the community that will benefit both people and animals. You may also want to send them the NAIA publication, “A Guide to Constructing Successful, Pet Friendly ordinances.” which has some excellent points that would help lay the groundwork for an ordinance that will address the problems in the Parish.

Specific talking points and alternatives to breed specific legislation can be found here.

The ordinance is tentatively set to be introduced at the Parish council meeting on April 22, 2014.  Meetings begin at 5:00 p.m. and are held Mathews Government Complex, in Mathews, Louisiana

Council Clerk
Carleen Babin
Lafourche Parish Council
P.O. Drawer 5548
Thibodaux, Louisiana 70302
Phone: (985) 446-8427
(800) 834-8832 Ext. 244

Council District 1
Jerry Jones

Council District 2
Michael Delatte

Council District 3
Aaron Caillouet

Council District 4
Joe Fertitta, Chairman

Council District 5
John Arnold

Council District 6
Lindel Toups

Council District 7
L. Phillip Gouaux, II

Council District 8
Jerry LaFont

Council District 9
Daniel Lorraine

Residents of Randolph County, AR seeking pit bull ban

We learned, via a story run by KAIT8, that dozens of residents in Randolph County, Arkansas plan to attend the next Quorum Court meeting on Thursday, April 10, 2014, to ask county officials to consider enacting a ban on pit bulls.  The residents say their neighbors’ pit bulls have terrorized them for years and now, due to one family, they are hoping to ban the breed within the county.

The issue has been before the Quorum Court once already.

Residents say they can’t go for walks or enjoy their own yards because they are afraid of the dogs that are continually running loose.  They believe the dogs belonging to the neighbor could be responsible for killing several chickens in the area and might be behind the death of a neighborhood dog in early March.  The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department warned residents of the incident out of concern of other pets and small children in the area.

While its easy to understand the frustration of the community members who say they have tried their best to abide by the law and give the irresponsible family an opportunity to keep their dogs contained, it certainly is not reasonable to seek an ordinance that would affect numerous responsible families due to the habitual irresponsibility of one.

If you are in or around Randolph County, please try to attend Thursday’s meeting and encourage county officials to focus their efforts on the family at the root of the problem rather than pass a discriminatory law that would affect many responsible, law abiding dog owners.

Thursday’s Quorum Court  meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.


MARYLAND: Compromise bill overturning 2012 Appeals Court ruling headed to Governor!

After two very long years, a bill that will overturn the 2012 Court of Appeals ruling in Tracey v. Solesky, which declared pit bulls as “inherently dangerous,” has passed BOTH chambers of the Maryland legislature and is headed to the governor’s desk.

The disastrous Court ruling also held landlords strictly liable for injuries by their tenants’ dogs, and this immediately created a nightmare situation for dog owners across the state.

While legislators wasted no time in their attempts to overturn the ill-conceived court ruling, it has taken two years to reach this very important compromise.

In addition to removing the language declaring pit bulls dangerous, the new law will make dog owners, not landlords, responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, unless the landlord knew or should have known a dog was dangerous.  The law will also protect responsible dog owners by creating a rebuttable presumption that the owners knew or should have known about their dog’s dangerous propensities, regardless of the breed of their dog.  Injuries received while a dog is running loose will still incur owners’ strict liability.

The words of Tami Santelli, Maryland State Director for the Humane Society, released in a statement today, sum it all up pretty well:

Passage of this compromise legislation ends this disgraceful era of court sanctioned canine profiling, in which families with pit bull-type dogs were forced to choose between their homes and their beloved pets. Lawmakers today voted against singling out particular breeds and in favor of raising the bar for all dog owners to protect victims of dog bites.

The bill now goes to Governor O’Malley, and everyone involved is optimistic it will be signed without a problem.

Maryland…after two long years, relief is finally on the way!