Medford, OR says “NO!” to pit bull ordinance

At a study session in January, the Medford, Oregon city council discussed “dangerous dogs” and ways to control a growing problem within the city.   In doing so, the council advised it was considering a multitude of options, one of which was to target certain breeds and, more specifically, pit bulls. At that time, the council directed city staff to work with a police advisory committee to come up with recommendations to address the issue and present to the council. 

The discussions were said to be sparked by recent dog-on-dog attacks, but according to Medford police, the city is experiencing problems with the criminal element using “pit bulls” for intimidation, guarding their drug houses, etc., and this was creating problems for police, and it was the latter that seemed to be driving the push for an ordinance targeting pit bulls.

The Police Advisory Committee held a public hearing in February, and the community showed up in force to oppose the consideration of any breed discriminatory language in crafting an ordinance to target problem dogs in the city.

After researching the issue and reviewing all the information provided to them, a co-chair of the Police Advisory Committee announced yesterday that breed specific legislation was off the table. The committee concluded that a dangerous dog ordinance that targets specific breeds would not be effective and would, in fact, be problematic.

Maureen Swift also indicated that committee members realized that if the city banned (or regulated) any specific breed, another breed would simply take its place.

As we all know, “problem dogs” are created by problem dog owners, and are certainly not limited to one specific breed of dog. Any solution to dog problems that does not address irresponsible, negligent, and careless dog owners is destined to fail – targeting the end result does nothing to curtail the cause, and pursuing this route simply allows the cycle of irresponsibility to continue, regardless of the irresponsible dog owner’s breed of choice.

The committee will recommend a way to deal with the owners of dangerous dogs with a stair-stepped enforcement measure. In addition, the committee will also recommend an educational component to help explain how to better manage dogs.

Way to go residents of Medford! You took an immediate stand against a discriminatory proposal, you offered solutions to your elected officials, and they listened! But don’t stop there. This is a great opportunity to work with your city to create an ordinance that enhances the safety and welfare of everyone in your community – people and animals alike.

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