When the Common Council of the city of Darlington, Wisconsin met on Tuesday, May 7, one of the items on the agenda was a proposed revision to the city’s ordinance pertaining to the regulation of vicious dogs.
Section 11.07 of the Darlington Municipal Code defined as “vicious:”
4. Any pit bull dog.
(b) Pit Bull Dog.
1. The pit bull terrier breed of dog.
2. The Staffordshire bull terrier breed of dog.
3. The American pit bull terrier breed of dog.
4. The American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog.
5. Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than listed under subpars. 1. to 4. above whose breed or mixed breed is commonly known as pit bull, pit bull dog or pit bull terrier.
Darlington resident, Jeanne Bailey, recently moved to the city with her canine companion of many years, which happened to be a pit bull mix dog. When she went to city hall to purchase a dog license, she was told that she could not because the city code prohibited her dog from living in the city limits.
Determined to keep her dog, Ms. Bailey went to the Darlington police chief with her problem, and he advised her to take the matter to the city council, which she did. Even though the police chief had previously advised others over the years to approach the council about repealing the breed specific ordinance, Ms. Bailey is the only person who took his advice. She stated her case to the council, and after some discussion, they ultimately agreed that dogs should be deemed vicious based on their behavior, not their breed. In the end, the council voted to delete the breed specific language in the ordinance.
Its very important to remember that when city officials are voted out, the support for and position on various matters change, as well. An ordinance that garnered unanimous support ten years ago, may now be outdated due to new research and information available. Never be intimidated about approaching your elected officials – they are YOUR voice, and they have an obligation to hear you out. They may not agree with you, but always remember, at some point, new officials will be sworn into office.
Moral of the story…never give up on creating positive change. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can accomplish.