We noted in our 2011 year-in-review blog that, like 2010, we saw a significant decrease in the number of areas considering and passing breed specific ordinances. A few months into 2012, that change in the BSL tide continues to turn. More and more city leaders are coming to the understanding that breed specific laws do not cure their animal control issues. More people are coming to the conclusion that breed specific ordinances are difficult to enforce, cumbersome on city staff and resources, and were not the “quick fix” they were anticipated to be. More importantly, its becoming clear to more people the root of “problem dogs” stems from “problem dog owners,” and in order to control those problems, dog owners must be held accountable for the actions of their dogs.
This week, were saw two more cities repeal their long-standing pit bull ordinances, and another considering repeal because, quite simply, they discovered that BSL does not work.
In Plymouth, MA, “pit bulls” were considered to be dangerous animals and, therefore, could not be owned in the city without a special permit and the adherence of strict regulations. In Morris, IL, the Board of Aldermen repealed their ordinance which regulating pit bulls to comply with state law which prohibits breed-specific municipal regulations on dogs. Both cities have replaced their breed specific laws with breed-neutral dog ordinances.
In addition, the town of North Beach, Maryland is considering repealing their pit bull ban and replacing it with a generic dangerous dog ordinance. The proposal is designed to compliment the county’s ordinance, and was brought about because officials realized the task of breed identification is difficult, if not impossible, thus making their current breed specific ordinance unenforceable. The proposal would deem dogs dangerous by their disposition, not their breed.
Like many pit bull ordinances across the country, the officials in these three cities came to the realization that their laws were simply too difficult to enforce, and they did not lead to safer communities, the ultimate desired achievement of any animal control ordinance.
Also this week, the proposed “pit bull” ordinance took a positive turn in Malden, Massachusetts. The Malden city council passed a “pit bull” ordinance on April 10, 2012. After the council ordained the ordinance, the mayor had 10 days to veto or approve it. On Friday, Mayor Christenson returned the ordinance to the council, UNSIGNED, with his suggested changes, one of which is the removal of the breed specific language. The Mayor accepted input from many in coming to his decision which is grounded in common sense and seeks to ensure the safety and welfare humans and animals alike. The ordinance will be back before the council within the next two weeks, and we hope that the council will thoroughly review Mayor Christenson’s suggestions and move forward with a breed-neutral compromise that benefits the entire community.
What’s the driving force behind all this positive change? YOU. You are making a difference in cities across the country. Your e-mail providing the real facts and statistics to counter the nonsense generated by those who want to further their personal agendas rather than create safe communities; your intelligent, respectful phone calls to officials offering viable suggestions and alternatives; and your attendance at council meetings portrays a movement of responsible dog owners working to bring about positive and effective change that truly benefits communities. A movement meant to get to the heart of animal control problems by holding irresponsible and reckless dog owners to a higher accountability. As role models for responsible ownership and advocates for those who cannot speak, we will continue to see the tide turn and watch additional cities decide against and repeal breed specific ordinances.
While our work is far from done, we are now able to see the results of the efforts of so many who strive for effective, fair and enforceable laws. Keep up the tremendous work, and this trend will most certainly continue!