We learned in May, that as part of an effort to rewrite the city’s municipal code, the South Bend, Indiana city council created a committee to discuss issues involving the care and control of animals. One of the matters the committee has been considering is whether to keep the current restrictions on certain breeds of animals.
The committee is headed up by Councilwoman Valerie Schey, and comprised of 3 councilmen and 6 citizens, including animal welfare and rescue organization representatives. The members have been reviewing and making suggested changes to the animal control code, and one of the desired changes is the elimination of the section of the law that pertains to the regulation of pit bulls.
The current city code regulates the ownership of American Pit Bull Terriers, deeming them as “dangerous” and defining a “pit bull” as follows:
The breed of dog registered and described by the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA) as the American Pit Bull Terrier, also known as the pit bull terrier, and any crossbreed of the American Pit Bull Terrier; but does not include the breeds known as the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the English Bulldog, the Bull Terrier, or the Bulldog, all of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
In addition, owners of dogs determined to be “pit bulls” are currently required to license their dogs with the city, obtain liability insurance, adhere to strict confinement and muzzling regulations, provide photographs, and tattoo or microchip their dogs.
Councilwoman Schey says updating the entire animal control code is necessary because the current law was written almost twenty years ago, and it is not only outdated, but its vague, making it difficult to enforce and to understand. The intended goal of the committee is to bring the entire chapter up to today’s standard of care. Schey also believes, as is reflected in her desire to remove the breed specific language from the ordinance, that dogs should be judged dangerous by their temperament and actions, NOT their breed.
The discussions have been ongoing, and appear to be moving in the right direction, despite one council member voicing opposition to repealing the breed specific provisions of the law. Accordingly, we suggest that South Bend residents continue to reach out to their city officials and encourage them to eliminate the breed specific language in their current animal control ordinance. Urge officials to take this opportunity to craft a comprehensive breed-neutral ordinance that targets reckless and irresponsible dog owners, and educates the public on responsible ownership practices, as well as prevention of dog bites. This is the type of ordinance that will ultimately create a safer environment, and enhance the lives and benefit all members of the community – humans and animals.
South Bend Common Council
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South Bend, Indiana 46601
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