At the meeting of the Albany City Commissioners last night, board members voted to table the proposed pit bull ordinance, and there was no discussion before the final vote.
According to commissioners, this is more than likely the end of the ordinance, although Mayor Hubbard indicated she wasn’t sure the issue was dropped.
Regardless, no official brought up a date to revisit the issue.
Some leaders, including the mayor, believe “pit bulls” are dangerous and need to be regulated. But others, including two newly elected officials and several residents who addressed the commissioners at meetings over the last few months, understand that breed specific ordinances are unfair and difficult to enforce.
It appears another sticking point was the city’s burden of proof in the determination of whether a dog is or is not a “pit bull.” As you recall, the city attorney who drafted the proposal advised commissioners the burden of proof was on dog owners, which is absolutely false. This is why I always stress the need for dog owners to do their own research, understand their rights and the law, question the information and statistics officials use in drafting breed specific ordinances, and speak out when those provisions infringe on your rights.
Finally, the mayor expressed her concern for doing nothing on this issue and her fear for residents who might be hurt in a dog attack.
As noted in our previous blogs, the city of Albany already has a provision in their municipal code that addresses ALL dogs deemed dangerous based on their behavior, establishes requirements for the keeping of those dogs, and penalties for owners who are found in violation of the law.
The mayor’s concerns can be alleviated by ensuring the law already in place is STRICTLY ENFORCED. Fine dog owners when they allow their dogs to cause problems in the community, and continue to fine them, on a tier-based fine schedule (i.e., the fine increases with every infraction). Problem dog owners generally have little respect for the responsibility due to their dogs or their neighbors, but faced with increasing penalties that affect their wallet, they strangely become a little more respectful of the law.
Problem dogs are the result of problem dog owners. Addressing these owners, regardless of the breed of dog they own, will create a safer community.
Great job by all those who addressed the commissioners and made their voices heard. You took a situation in which a breed specific ordinance was almost guaranteed to be passed, and turned it around by providing sound, reliable and accurate information regarding the failures of breed specific legislation.
This is a big win, and you should be proud that you helped responsible dog owners avoid a discriminatory ordinance, and an entire community from the false sense of security a breed specific law instills.