In early April, we learned that Westwego, Louisiana Councilman Glenn Green began a campaign to amend the city’s pit bull ordinance to make it more difficult and more expensive for residents to own pit bull type dogs. The move for more restrictions came just days after a resident was attacked by her own dogs inside her home. One of those dogs just had puppies, but further circumstances surrounding the attack are unknown. The incident led the councilman to seek to strengthen Westwego’s pit bull ordinance enacted in 2000.
While he has certainly not been silent about his intention to change the law, Councilman Green’s push to regulate the city’s pit-bull population will officially begin Monday, May 13, when he plans to present a new ordinance that would force residents to abide by strict standards if they want to keep their pit bulls as pets. Green plans to introduce a revision to the city’s law that would ban pit bulls that are not licensed by the city.
If approved, Green’s ordinance would restrict ownership of pit bulls to individuals older than 21, unless the animals were being used as a service animal. In addition, it would require all pit bull owners to get their animals spayed or neutered and microchipped; mandate that a dog owner maintain a homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance of at least $100,000; require that pit bulls be muzzled and “strongly leashed” when off the owners’ property, and places restrictions on the total number of dogs that can be kept in a home.
Green’s law would mandate that unlicensed animals within the city be euthanized unless they are removed, and that the city’s code inspectors would examine homes to determine compliance. Anyone found in violation of the licensing guidelines could face a $500 fine. In order to determine if animals qualify for the ban, the city will require DNA testing by the pet’s owners.
If passed, Westwego’s guidelines would be the strongest in Jefferson Parish. Although the city previously required pit bulls to be confined and always kept on a leash, the new rules go far beyond those guidelines. Local animal advocates have advised against the city targeting a particular breed of dog for a ban.
Green acknowledged that the new guidelines represent potential cost increases for the city and pet owners because he plans to ask the city administration to strictly enforce the new law. In addition, Green plans on using emotion to persuade the council and the public to pass his proposal by asking the attack victim to address the council when the measure is being voted on.
If the ordinance is introduced Monday, the earliest it could be voted on would be in June. The mayor initially indicated the city council will wait to take action on the proposal until after newly elected members take their seats in July. Public hearings on the proposed ordinance will also be held.
As noted above, the city already has a pit bull ordinance, and the desire to strengthen the law is a clear indication that their breed specific ordinance is ineffective. In addition, none of the stipulations in Green’s proposal would have prevented the attack that he claims sparked his desire for stricter rules on pit bull type dogs. Please encourage the city officials to focus on education to curb irresponsible ownership, as well as on dog bite prevention.
Please continue to send your polite, respectful and informative opposition to breed specific legislation to the current Westwego officials listed below. (Once the new members are seated, we will provide their contact information.) Please also provide city officials them viable alternatives and suggestions for their consideration. We recommend sending the city officials the NAIA publication, “A Guide to Constructing Successful, Pet Friendly ordinances.” The guide has some excellent points that would help lay the groundwork for an ordinance that will address the problems in the city.
Talking points and alternatives to breed specific legislation can be found here.
City Administration phone: 504-347-5745; Fax: 504-341-8941
City Council phone: 504-341-3424
Mayor John I. Shaddinger, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Member Glenn Green email@example.com
Council Member Ted J. Munch TedMunch@cityofwestwego.com
Council Member Ivy E. Rogers firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Member Melvin J. Guidry email@example.com
Council Member Larry Warino LWarino4westwego@aol.com
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