A resident of Covington, Kentucky is calling on the city to change its breed specific ordinance after she was cited by animal control because of her “pit bulls.” Emmy Friedricks received the citation because her two dogs were not wearing muzzles and leashes while they were outside with her in their fenced-in yard.
Friedrichs has since registered her dogs as “vicious” with the city and bought muzzles for them. However, in addition to the discomfort created for the dogs, she feels the muzzles perpetuate a negative impression for both her and her dogs. She now walks her dogs outside the city limits in order to avoid the muzzles, as well as the unwarranted stigma.
According to the city’s ordinance, a “pit bull” is defined as:
Any dog which exhibits those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club for American Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or substantially conform to the standards established by the United Kennel Club for American Pit Bull Terriers, including any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or American Pit Bull Terrier.
In addition, the definition of “vicious dog” under the current ordinance states:
….(3) any dog that has caused death or serious injury to a person engaged in a lawful activity or has attacked or bitten without provocation a person engaged in a lawful activity; or which has killed or seriously injured another animal after an animal control officer or enforcement agent has issued, or…which has been declared to be vicious by an animal control officer or enforcement agent, taking into consideration the nature and severity of the incident and whether the dog has displayed dangerously aggressive behavior and is likely to inflict injury on another person or animal. A vicious dog does not include a dog that bites or attacks a person or other animal that provokes, torments, tortures, or treats an animal cruelly.
The current ordinance covers ALL dogs that display aggressive or dangerous behavior without the need to be breed specific and, as such, the removal of the breed specific language would enhance the safety and welfare of all members of the community.
Certainly, two dogs, regardless of breed, under their owner’s care and control and in their own fenced-in yard, pose far less risk than a dog of any breed running loose through the neighborhood, and it is those situations animal control officials should be focused on preventing. It is an exercise in futility for animal control officers to target responsible dog owners simply because of the appearance of their dogs. Removing the “pit bull” provision allows animal control officers to target, educate and penalize the truly irresponsible dog owners and keep the community safe for everyone.
Please reach out to the Covington city officials and politely and respectfully encourage them to consider amending their vicious dog ordinance by repealing the breed specific language targeting “pit bulls.” Provide them with alternatives for their consideration that will target dogs that pose a real danger to the community because of their actions and not their appearance. We suggest using the NAIA’s Guide to Constructing Successful Pet Friendly Ordinances. Let them know that an ordinance that focuses on irresponsible dog owners, regardless of the breed of dog they own, is the only way to ensure the safety and well-being of all members in the community – people and animals alike.
Mayor and City Commissioners: