BSL Alert — Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

City Commission members in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin are considering a ban on “pit bulls” stating they want to be “proactive” and to “err on the side of caution.” A proacive ordinance would include measures to educate dog owners on responsible dog ownership, as well as tough penalties for owners who are not responsible with their dogs — regardless of the breed of dog they own.

Please send your POLITE, RESPECTFUL AND INFORMATIVE letters of opposition to the Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin city commission members listed below. Please include viable alternatives and suggestions for the commission’s consideration.

I was unable to find e-mail contact for the majority of commission members, but correspondence can be sent to them by e-mail via the city clerk with a polite request to forward to each city commissioner. The proposed ordinance has been bumped back to committee, so please get your letters out ASAP.

Jodi Preis
Bless the Bullys
http://www.blessthebullys. com

City of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

City Hall
421 Michigan Street
Sturgen Bay, Wisconsin 54235
920-746-2900
920-746-2905 (fax)
info@sturgeonbaywi. org

City Clerk
Stephanie Reinhardt
sreinhardt@sturgeon baywi.org

Mayor Tom Voegele
tvoegele@baypharmac y.net

CITY COMMISSION
Dan Wiegand (danwiegand@hotmail. com)
Ron Vandertie
John Lodl
James Abeyta
Steve Mann
Tom Benzshawel
Thad Birmingham

Common Council Agendas
http://www.sturgeon baywi.org/ sturgeonbay/ mayor++common+ council/common+ council+agenda/ default.asp

Contact Form:
http://www.sturgeon baywi.org/ sturgeonbay/ contact+us/ default.asp

February 6, 2010

Pit bull ban would be proactive measure
Committee considering proposed ordinance

By Ramelle Bintz
rbintz@doorcountyad vocate.com

A Sturgeon Bay Common Council committee is scheduled Thursday to re-examine whether pit bull dogs and similar breeds should be banned from the city.

That question and other animal regulations have been fine-tuned over the last five months by the Community, Protection and Services Committee. The proposed ordinance (Chapter 34, “regulation and licensing of animals”) was on the council’s agenda Tuesday, but disagreement on the pit bull question bumped it back to the committee.

Aldermen will attempt to iron out the ordinance language during the 5:30 p.m. meeting Thursday at city hall. Once approved, the proposal will need two majority votes from the Common Council to take effect. No public hearing is required.

The pit bull ban is only part of a 14-page animal guideline that would replace the city’s current half-page ordinance. The city attorney drafted the new ordinance at the request of Committee Chairman Steve Mann, who said the city should take a proactive measure to regulate pets and bring the city in line with the Door County ordinance.

Police Chief Dan Trelka said the current, brief city ordinance has no limitations on the number of pets at a residence, for example, and the city police have no authority to write citations under the broader county regulations.

The new code would limit the number of dogs older than 5 months to four and the number of cats to three. Chapter 34 will clarify guidelines for residents in what animals need to be registered and how they are to be cared for, and may help keep dogs where they belong.

“Our No. 1 problem has been dogs running at large,” Trelka said. “We need something better than what we have now.”

The ordinance encompasses everything from pot-bellied pigs to beekeeping in the city limits, but the pit bull ban is the most contentious.

“I don’t know of any incident with pit bulls, but I don’t believe in waiting until something happens,” Mann said. “I know when I Google pit bulls, you find everything from pit bulls snuggling up with kittens to some pretty vicious attacks.”

Alderman James Abeyta, also on the committee, said the wording should be changed to “control and contain” pit bulls rather than exclude them altogether.

The third committee member, Alderman John Lodl, said although in his years as mail carrier, he never has been injured by a pit bull, he prefers to “err on the side of safety” and ban them.

Only four pit bulls were registered in the city of Sturgeon Bay last year. Two of them belong to Josiah Robben, who lives in the Sunset Park area. Anyone whose pets are registered by the time the ordinance takes effect will be grandfathered in, but Robben said the new ordinance creates a “slippery slope” and confuses the issue.

For example, to take a “vicious” dog off premises, it would have to be muzzled or on less than a 4-foot leash. Only an owner or family member older than 16 could walk the dog.

“Dogs should be licensed, and people should be responsible, but this ordinance is blown all out of proportion,” Robben said. “This is demonizing the entire breed. They need to focus on the person — the criminal is the person who is not a responsible pet owner, not the dog.”

Robben cites breeds labeled as particularly dangerous in the past — dobermans in the 1970s, then huskies, German shepherds, rottweilers and now pit bull terriers.

“We need to regulate any dog that’s acting out and ask why that’s happening, but the problem isn’t with the animals — it’s with the pet owners,” he said. “Ninety percent of all dogs today were not bred to be pets, and some of them are going to people who should not have pets.”

Last year, 13 dog bites were reported in the city of Sturgeon Bay, and an additional 25 dog bites were filed with the Door County Sheriff’s Department. Neither statistic details the breed of dog involved, but the intent of the new ordinance is to increase safety. Neither Trelka nor Mann was aware of any incident in Door County involving pit bulls.

Door County Humane Society Director Carrie Counihan said a dog’s personal history plays a larger role on whether it can be placed.

“All dogs are temperament tested,” she said. “Each has a unique history and, based on its previous owners, is individually reviewed.”

Both of Robben’s pit bulls are mixes that were rescued years ago. The older dog, now almost 14 years old, has been part of his family for at least seven years. The younger one is about 4 years old and has lived with the family about 2½ years.

“My older dog, Potato, is just a big, roly-poly old man,” he said. “My nephew had tears in his eyes when I told him the city might not even let him take him out for a walk.”

http://www.greenbay pressgazette. com/article/ 20100206/ ADV01/2060454/ 0/adv

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