Opportunity for repeal of decades-old pit bull ordinance in Mount Gilead, Ohio

The Village of Mount Gilead, Ohio is considering repealing its decades-old pit bull ban after the issue was brought before the council by residents.

At the council meeting on June 16, 2014, Attorney Andrew Wick and his wife, Laura, supplied packets of information with studies from the American Humane Society, Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, and the American Veterinary Medical Association for the council’s review.  Mr. Wick advised the council that breed specific legislation is not effective and is actually cost prohibitive.  He went on to advise that there are “better ways and means of handling animal control issues,” and that these methods were actually “mentioned in the breed specific legislation itself.”

Ordinance 505.14 prohibits “pit bulls” from living in the village, and defines a “Pit Bull Terrier” as:

 (b)   … any 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 Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier, as to be identifiable as particularly of the breed of Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier by a qualified veterinary duly licensed as such by the State.

According to Councilman Ed Kline, who sat on the council when the law passed in the 80’s, the ordinance was the end result of an issue with ONE family who resided there, and has remained on the books ever since.  The police chief confirmed that only one citation related to the ordinance has been issued in the twenty years that he’s worked for the village.

Council discussed a nearby community that is currently considering repealing its breed specific law, and Mr. Wick responded that rather than focus on breeds, that proposal addresses vicious animal legislation by dealing with the behavior of animals, as well as implementing and strictly enforcing responsible owner laws.

Finally, the village solicitor advised the council that the current ordinance is “very difficult for us to enforce,” and that he would have no issue if council chose to update or make changes to the law.

The village council members ultimately decided to send the matter to the Codes and Regulations Committee for further discussion.

I spoke with the village clerk this morning, and she advised that once the committee discussed the matter, they would provide their recommendations to the council as a whole.   She also advised that the council was very interested in getting the opinion of village residents.

Residents of Mount Gilead:  Please reach out to village officials and let them know you support the move to amend the vicious dog ordinance to eliminate any reference to specific breeds of dogs. Encourage village officials to focus on the behavior of individual dogs, as well as penalizing irresponsible dog owners who allow their dogs to become problems in the community.

In addition, considering the council expressed an interest in what other communities are doing with respect to animal control and vicious dog laws, let them know that since the Ohio Legislature passed a law removing all reference to specific breeds of dogs in the state’s vicious dog law in 2012, dozens of cities and towns across the state have followed suit in an effort to enhance the safety and welfare of all who reside in their communities – people and animals alike.

The next city council meeting is August 18, 2014 and anyone that would like to address the council will need to be added to the agenda by August 13.  **Please note, however, it is unknown at this time whether the Committee will have their recommendations on the proposal ready to present to the council, but residents can still take the opportunity at the next meeting to let village officials know they support repealing the ban on pit bull-type dogs.

Wellsville, KS: Decision on repeal of pit bull ordinance “likely” at July 9 council meeting

The city of Wellsville, Kansas has an ordinance that bans “pit bull terriers and Staffordshire terriers” within the city limits, but that could soon change if city officials vote to repeal the decade-old ordinance at the council meeting on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

The proposal is expected to be on the meeting agenda after the council heard from several Wellsville and Franklin County residents during a public meeting held last Monday.

The issue was initially brought to city officials at the May 28, 2014 city council meeting when resident Lisa Roberts, along with several supporters, presented information to officials about the problems associated with breed specific laws, and asked the council to consider repealing the current ordinance.

In response, a public hearing was held in order to allow residents to voice their opinions either for or against repealing the ordinance.  The hearing was well attended, with many residents asking the council to target problem dog owners rather than specific breeds of dogs.

According to Mayor Bill Lytle, the council could likely make a decision with respect to repeal at tomorrow’s meeting.

WELLSVILLE RESIDENTS:  Please continue to reach out to your city officials and politely and respectfully encourage them to move forward with repealing the ordinance banning pit bull-type dogs.   Let them know that breed specific laws are ineffective, discriminate against and penalize responsible dog owners, and do not enhance the safety or welfare of the residents in communities in which it exists.  Urge your city officials to enact an ordinance that deems dogs dangerous according to their individual actions and behaviors and holds dog owners accountable for the actions of their dogs – regardless of breed.

Finally, please show your support for eliminating the breed specific language in the city’s current ordinance by attending the city council meeting on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Council meetings start at 6:00 p.m., and are held at City Hall, 411 Main St., Wellsville.

Carroll County, MS to consider pit bull ordinance on July 7, 2014

The Board of Supervisors in Carroll County, Mississippi will consider a proposal to ban or put strict rules on the ownership of pit bulls next week.

Board attorney, Kevin Horan, advised county officials that he believed they could enact an ordinance banning pit bulls that would be upheld by the courts, but a ban would be more difficult than the alternative of regulating the ownership of pit bulls.

The supervisors asked Horan to draft a proposed ordinance they can look at on Monday, July 7, 2014.

The call for a pit bull ordinance comes in the wake of a dog attack in another county. However, the Carroll County sheriff advised Board members that “pit bulls” were being abandoned in Carroll County and becoming an issue after the passage of an ordinance in Grenada County. Sadly, it appears representatives at surrounding shelters support the call due to the number of dogs in the area, and the director of the Hope Animal Sanctuary in Grenada took her support a step further, stating that any ordinance should require pit bull owners have liability insurance, and a stipulation be included that they could not live close to schools, churches or day cares.

Time is of the essence as this issue will be discussed on Monday, July 7.

Accordingly, please take a moment today to send your polite, respectful and informative letters in opposition to breed discriminatory legislation to the Carroll County officials. E-mail contact information is not available for the Board members, but you may fax your letters and suggestions encouraging the county to focus on problem dog owners rather than specific breeds of dogs to the Board of Supervisors, as well as the county attorney.

Talking points on the many problems associated with breed specific laws can be found here.

We also recommend sending county officials the NAIA publication “A Guide to Constructing Successful, Pet Friendly ordinances.” The guide has some excellent points that would help them make a more informed and educated decision that does not involve regulating certain breeds of dogs.

Considering the issue of concern appears to be the number of unattended “pit bulls” in the county, its important to point out that a breed specific ordinance will only result in more dogs being dumped in the county, thus increasing the problem already being experienced. Rather than impose an ordinance that would negatively impact the community, as well as responsible dog owners, the county would be better served by enacting a breed-neutral ordinance that targets irresponsible and reckless dog owners, educating residents on responsible ownership practices, and strictly enforcing the laws already in place.

Carroll County, Mississippi
Board of Supervisors

Post Office Box 60
Carrollton, MS 38917
Phone: (662) 237-9660
Fax: 662-237-9642

Board Attorney
Kevin Horan
FAX: (662) 453-1340

Washington Court House, OH considering repeal of BSL!

The city of Washington Court House, Ohio is considering amending its vicious dog ordinance, and is specifically looking to eliminate the language that automatically deems “pit bulls” as vicious dogs.

The proposal amends the codified ordinance on “vicious dogs and pit bull terriers” by eliminating any and all references to “pit bull terriers.”

Washington Court House officials are considering this change in an effort to align the city with and mirror Ohio state law which removed any reference to specific breeds of dogs in 2012.

The city’s law director advised the council that the state statute has three designations: a nuisance, dangerous, and vicious dog. Each of these categories has its own criteria to be met.  In addition, the dog warden would also be able to declare a dog as vicious.

I spoke with the city clerk this morning, and the first reading of the proposed ordinance passed at last night’s council meeting.  She advised that all were in favor of the change, but two council members were not present at the meeting yesterday.

The council is required to take three (3) votes in order for the proposal to become law, and the second and third readings will be July 9 and July 23, 2014 respectively.

Residents of Washington Court House:  Please let your city officials know you support the move to amend the vicious dog ordinance to eliminate any reference to specific breeds of dogs.  You can also show your support for the change by attending the next city council meeting on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.  Meetings take place at the City Administration Building, 105 N. Main Street, on the second floor in Council Chambers.

 

Wellsville, Kansas to consider repeal of pit bull ordinance

The city of Wellsville, Kansas has an ordinance that bans “pit bull terriers and Staffordshire terriers” within the city limits.  At the May 28, 2014 city council meeting, resident Lisa Roberts, along with several supporters, presented information to city officials about the problems associated with breed specific laws, and asked the council to consider repealing the current ordinance.   Council members advised they would take the matter under advisement and schedule a meeting to discuss the issue further.

A ­­­­­­­public meeting to discuss Wellsville’s vicious dog ordinance has been rescheduled for 6:00 p.m. on June 30, 2014 at City Hall, 411 Main St., Wellsville, Kansas.

The council originally set the public meeting for July 1, 2014.  However, according to the city clerk, that date was changed to June 30 due to a scheduling conflict.  Unfortunately, in publishing notice of the upcoming meeting, the Ottawa Herald advised the new date was July 30.  The paper was asked to publish the article again with the correct meeting date, however, it appears that change was not made.  So residents please take note of the correct meeting date.

Residents of Wellsville:  Your city leaders have scheduled a public meeting because they want to hear from YOU!

Please reach out to city officials  and politely and respectfully encourage them to move forward with repealing the ordinance banning pit bull-type dogs.   Let them know that breed specific laws are ineffective, discriminate against and penalize responsible dog owners, and do not enhance the safety or welfare of the residents in communities in which it exists.  Urge your city officials to enact an ordinance that deems dogs dangerous according to their individual actions and behaviors and holds dog owners accountable for the actions of their dogs – regardless of breed.

Finally, please show your support for eliminating the breed specific language in the city’s current ordinance by attending the public meeting on Monday, June 30, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

 

Ft. Thomas, KY: Second committee meeting on repeal of pit bull ban

Officials in the city of Ft. Thomas, Kentucky are considering repealing their ordinance banning “pit bulls.”

The current ordinance, passed in 1988, declares pit bulls to have “inherently vicious and dangerous propensities,” and further states that pit bulls are “potentially hazardous and unreasonably dangerous to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens.”

Section 91.35 defines a “pit bull” as follows:

Pit Bull Terrier: (commonly known as pit bull dog) shall mean any dog which either:

(1)   Is registered with the American Kennel Club as either an American Staffordshire Terrier or a Staffordsire Bull Terrier;
(2)   Is registered with the United Kennel Club as an American Pit Bull Terrier;
(3)   Conforms to either of the standards of the American Kennel Club for the American Staffordshire Terrier or the Staffordshire Bull Terrier which were published, with an example photograph, in the 15th Edition of the Complete Dog Book in 1977 and which are attached to Ordinance 0-17-88; or
(4)   Has predominant physical characteristics which are those of either the American Staffordshire Terrier or the Staffordshire Bull Terrier indicated in the standards of the American Kennel Club which were published, with an example photograph, in the 15th Edition of the Complete Dog Book in 1977 and which are attached to Ordinance 0-17-88.

The debate over the ordinance became heated last year when a resident was told he must remove his dog from the city limits because the dog met the physical criteria of a “pit bull.”  Even after the resident successfully demonstrated to city officials that his dog was not a “pit bull,” the city still pushed for the dog’s removal.

Frustration over the ordinance resulted in a formal push for change at the April 21, 2014 council meeting, when dozens of people came forward and asked that the ban on pit bulls be repealed.

In response, the city’s Public Safety Committee met on June 2, 2014 to discuss changes to the provisions of the ordinance related to “dangerous animals” and the ban on pit bulls. While no decision was reached by the committee at that meeting, officials left a light at the end of the tunnel stating they were open to further discussion at a later date.  In addition, staff members indicated they would gather notes and information from nearby cities on their dog ordinances.

At the June 16, 2014 city council meeting, Public Safety Committee chairman Tom Lampe insisted that people for and against repealing the ordinance needed to heard.

As a result, the Public Safety Committee will meet for a second time to discuss the idea of repealing the ban on pit bull-type dogs.  The committee will meet in council chambers in the city building, 130 N. Fort Thomas Ave. at 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 7, 2014.

Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting on July 7 with their suggestions and input for the council’s consideration.

Residents of Ft. Thomas:  Your city leaders want to hear from YOU! Please reach out to your city officials, particularly those on the Public Safety Committee, Mayor Eric Haas, Tom Lampe and Jay Fossett, and encourage them to move forward with repealing the ordinance banning pit bull-type dogs.  Share with them the wealth of information and research that was not available thirty years ago demonstrating that breed specific laws are ineffective, discriminate against and penalize responsible dog owners, and do not enhance the safety or welfare of the residents in communities in which it exists.  Urge your city officials to enact an ordinance that deems dogs dangerous according to their individual actions and behaviors and, as one resident stated at the April council meeting, “puts the responsibility of the dogs in the individual owners’ hands.”

White Pine, Tennessee amends 26-year old ban on pit bulls

Disappointing (yet hopeful) news out of White Pine, Tennessee.

We learned in March 2014 that the small town of White Pine, Tennessee was considering repealing their long-standing ordinance banning the ownership of “pit bulls” in the city limits.

Unaware of the ban enacted in 1988, and after moving to White Pine with a dog that met the physical characteristics of a “pit bull” as defined by the city code, a dog owner was cited by police for violating the ordinance.  That resident brought the issue of repealing the breed specific law to the city council.  Public hearings were held on the matter, and the proposal was received positively.

When I spoke with the Town Recorder earlier this year, she advised that prior to the formal move by the council to review the ordinance, city officials were already aware of the problems associated with the existing ordinance, specifically the difficulty of identifying what is or is not a pit bull dog.

Despite this acknowledgment, however, the city opted not to repeal the breed specific language in the ordinance, but rather, to amend the ordinance to allow pit bull-type dogs to reside in the city limits if their owners adhere to specific restrictions.

Ordinance 2-14, §10-204 declares “any pit bull terrier” as a “vicious dog,” and under this section, defines a pit bull terrier as:

Any American Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, or any mixed breed of dog which contains an element of its breeding the breed of American Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed of American Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier.

The new ordinance provides that “vicious dogs” must be confined in a locked pen or structure with a secure top and embedded no less than one foot in the ground; and leashed and muzzled while off the owner’s property.

In addition, owners of “vicious dogs” must post signage indicatting there is a vicious dog on the premises; and obtain and provide proof of liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 to the Town Recorder.

Even though the preamble of the amended ordinance states “certain behaviors of dog owners contribute to dangers associated with vicious dogs,” the city still chose to single out and penalize responsible dog owners simply because of the physical appearance of their dog.

That being said, while it wasn’t the change White Pine residents were seeking, they did succeed in bringing about positive change in the city, and I hope they view the amendment to the 26-year-old outright ban on pit bulls as an accomplishment, as well as an excellent starting point for a campaign to end to breed specific legislation for good in White Pine at some point in the future.