The New Orleans city council has approved a sweeping overhaul of the city’s ordinance related to the keeping of domestic animals. This is the first major revision of the regulations in more than 50 years, and the change was brought about in order to bring the city up to par with the rest of the country. The ordinance is the result of an 18-month collaboration between Councilwoman Susan Guidry and the Louisiana SPCA, pet owners, the City’s Health Department, veterinarians, breeders, dog show enthusiasts, and animal rights advocacy groups. The ordinance was approved 7-0.
Among the many provisions of the 46-page ordinance, of important note are the following:
— Creation of a new, lowest-level designation of “potentially dangerous” dog, amending the criteria for designating a dog as “dangerous” or “vicious,” which will allow municipal court judges greater discretion in issuing designations, based on the circumstances of individual cases;
— Prohibits dogs from being designated as potentially dangerous, dangerous, or vicious simply because of the dog’s breed; and
— Dogs seized in connection with dog fighting busts are no longer automatically considered vicious. Dogs previously seized under these circumstances were euthanized. Now the SPCA will be able to find new homes for them if several conditions, including evaluation by a behaviorist and spay/neutering, are met.
Section 18-294, specifically states with respect to the responsibility for classification of the designation of “dangerous,” a judge shall not base the determination of dangerous based on the breed of the dog.
In addition, Section 18-297 states:
(i) A dog that has been deemed dangerous in another parish or state, must register with the Agency and meet the same requirements listed above….provided that the determination of viciousness was based, at least in part, on factor(s) other than the breed of the dog.
In addition, the new ordinance sets new rules for practices such as tethering or muzzling animals, as well as new requirements for what to do with animals during “extreme weather” events such as summer heat and tropical storms. It also include new rules for seizing animals from premises where they are being mistreated.
We applaud the city of New Orleans for updating their antiquated law to improve the health, welfare and living conditions of the animals in the city. In updating their ordinance, New Orleans city officials are helping dogs who may have otherwise been deemed dangerous based solely on their breed or circumstances, sparing them from euthanaisa and giving them the chance of a new start. These sweeping changes will no doubt improve the city and bring about a much safer environment for all members of the community – people and animals alike.
Please take a moment to reach out to Councilwoman Guidry to thank her for the hard work she put into the creation of this ordinance.
Councilwoman Susan Guidry