On Tuesday, January 28, the Bradford City Council passed a measure to remove “pit bulls” from its list of dangerous animals.
Article VI, § 70-26 of the Bradford city code states:
It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any pit bull dogs within the City of Bradford or to bring any pit bull dogs into the City of Bradford at any time for any reason.
The city solicitor had been questioned about the legality of classifying specific breeds of dogs as dangerous in the city code in light of the fact that breed specific laws are prohibited by Pennsylvania state law.
Article V, §459-507-A (c) of the Pennsylvania Statutes states:
(c) Local ordinances. – Those provisions of local ordinances relating to dangerous dogs are hereby abrogated. A local ordinance otherwise dealing with dogs may not prohibit or otherwise limit a specific breed of dog.
Accordingly, when the solicitor and police chief looked into the issue, they discovered that the city’s law discriminating against specific breeds was not valid and they wanted it “off the books.”
Bradford is not the first city in Pennsylvania to have a breed specific ordinance questioned. Two pit bull owners challenged the city of Reading’s ordinance that targeted specific breeds, and after a two year legal battle, the dog owners prevailed, and the city’s ordinance was effectively neutered by the state court.
This underscores the importance of knowing and understanding dog laws in your community and realizing that you have the right to challenge city officials when their laws discriminate, target or otherwise unfairly place undue hardship on responsible dog owners and their ability to own the canine companion of their choice.