South Bend, IN to discuss repealing BSL, other animal control matters

South Bend, Indiana is contemplating changes to their animal control laws that will better protect animals and the public.

One of the proposed changes is the elimination of the breed specific language that targets pit bulls.  Pit bull owners 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.

We learned in May 2013, 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.  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 automatically deems American Pit Bull Terriers as “dangerous” and defines 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).

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entire animal control code is necessary because the current law was written almost twenty years ago, and it is not only outdated, but its vague, making it difficult to enforce and to understand.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.

Some other changes to the city code being considered include requiring a special license for dogs deemed dangerous by their actions, as well as requiring those dogs to be spayed or neutered. Also under consideration is the elimination of the current limit on the number of pets in a household, as well as tethering limitations.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for the public to learn more and ask questions about the changes on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at Weikamp Hall at I.U.S.B.

South Bend residents, please encourage your city officials to move forward with the proposed changes to create a community that enhances the safety and welfare of both people and animals.

South Bend Common Council
227 West Jefferson Blvd., Suite 400 S
South Bend, Indiana 46601
(574) 235-9321

E-mail for the council as a whole:
ccouncil@southbendin.gov

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