During a work session held on January 14, 2014, several city council members in Columbia, South Carolina expressed interest in exploring the idea of making it more difficult to own pit bulls in the city limits.
In fact, Councilman Cameron Runyan advised his fellow council members that he has already done some research on the issue. Runyan advised that ordinances regulating the ownership of “pit bulls” in other cities have withstood court challenges because the laws don’t place outright bans on the dogs. He further advised that a “bully breed ordinance” would not prevent someone from owning dogs identified as “pit bulls,” but would instead “tie a significant expense” to the keeping of such dogs.
The discussion turned to pit bulls while the council was debating the possibility of increasing the legal number of dogs allowed per household, as well as the possibility of enacting measures that would ensure more dogs were registered with the city and, in turn, generate more fees for city coffers.
No specific concerns or incidents related to pit bulls (or any dog related problems in the city) were brought up at the meeting, however, in a follow-up news story, Runyan justified his push for the ordinance as a means to control the pit bull population. In support of this, he said there were too many pit bulls in the shelter, and most of those dogs were euthanized. But the article goes on to say that approximately 7% of the dogs euthanized at the shelter are pit bulls. Makes you wonder why he’s not trying to control the populations of the other 93% of dogs that lose their lives in the shelter?
Considering generating revenue was discussed at the meeting, and in light of the new information regarding concern for the number of animals being euthanized at the shelter, it should be noted that enacting a breed specific ordinance will result in MORE pit bulls at the shelter, not less. This, in turn, would also cost the city more money. Strictly enforcing the current animal control ordinance and educating dog owners on responsible ownership, would not only generate revenue for the city, but would ultimately result in less dogs at the shelter.
According to the city’s website, the goal of city council work sessions is to see which ideas merit further exploration and subsequent forwarding to the full council for discussion and possible enactment.
Residents of Columbia should reach out to their city council members now, BEFORE a breed specific ordinance is proposed. Let your city officials know you do not support any ordinance that singles out particular breeds of dogs, and that breed specific legislation does not create safer communities. You may also want to offer them suggestions for their consideration, such as the NAIA publication, “A Guide Constructing Successful, Pet Friendly ordinances.”
In addition, residents will want to attend upcoming city council meetings to monitor this situation. Council meetings take place the first and third Tuesday of the month.
Mayor and City Council Members of Columbia, South Carolina:
In response to the city’s discussions of regulating pit bulls, the Columbia Bully Walk Group has changed the location of their Bully Walk on Sunday, January 19, to the State Capitol Building in Columbia. The walk starts at noon. If you’re in the area, please consider joining them! More info can be found at their event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/185069965035152/?ref=5