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For the Love of the Dog

BSL Alive and Well in Jacksonville

On May 18 the Jacksonville City Council threw out the rules and voted to adopt a city-wide pit bull ban. The ban goes into effect in 30 days. Current pit bull owners will be grandfathered in as long as their dogs are registered and spayed or neutered.

A dog fight tonight in Jacksonville. Pit bull owners and those wanting to ban the breed collided in the city council meeting. And after that meeting the city council voted to ban pit bulls in Jacksonville.

Owners are fearful they will lose their dogs. Others are fearful the dogs are too dangerous. At one point a pit bull owner had to be detained by police momentarily after he rushed the council trying to speak out of turn.

It wouldn’t be the only interruption. Loud applause could be heard throughout the meeting as pit bull owners cheered on those who are against the ban.

Terry Jordan says his pit bull, named Lady, is just another member of the family. “It’s unfair to ban any one type of dog!”

Denita Byrd says her pit bull, Chance, is her baby and would hurt anyone. “Dogs are vicious if they are raised to vicious.” (Fox16.com)

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Jacksonville Pit Bull Ban

KLRT Fox 16 Little Rock – (KLRT)

May. 18, 2007. 09:33 AM EST

A dog fight tonight in Jacksonville. Pit bull owners and those wanting to ban the breed collided in the city council meeting.

Alderman Terry Sansing spoke up as a voice of reason. “I do not believe you can paint the entire breed as a problem. Before pit bulls topped the list of concerns, it was the chow and before that the Doberman pinscher. If we need to do something, let’s penalize the bad owners,” Sansing said.

Unfortunately no one was listening.

Banned dogs already in the city will be allowed to stay if the owner can show proof that the animal was licensed before the new ordinance going into effect, has proof of rabies vaccination and the owner is at least 21—and then has the dog spayed or neutered, registered and has a licensed veterinarian implant a computer chip into the animal for identification and to help track them.

BSL – WHAT IS IT?

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is designed to place restrictions on ownership of certain breeds of dogs. Typically, the restricted breeds include pit bull-type dogs (usually vaguely defined), followed by Rottweilers. Other breeds may include German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Presa Canarios, Dobermans, Cane Corsos, Huskies, Boxers, and mixes of these.

Breed-specific legislation creates a number of restrictions or regulations on any one breed. Owners of certain breeds of dogs may be required to:
-Keep the dog muzzled in public
-Purchase insurance for the dog
-Keep the dog on its owner’s property at all times (no trips to the park, the store, etc.)
-Keep the dog in a specific enclosure at all times.

The most common kind of breed-specific legislation completely bans all dogs of a certain breed. This means that all dogs of the banned breed must be removed from the area or euthanized. (Stop BSL)

Breed specific ordinances are quick fixes and not a sufficient long term solution for the following reasons:

1. Dog problems are generally problems with owner responsibility and are not limited to breeds. When breeds are singled out as dangerous or vicious, responsibility is removed from the dog owner which is where it belongs. Irresponsible people are also less likely to follow the law – and as a result, everyone has to suffer.

2. By limiting the ability of citizens to own certain breeds, responsible law abiding citizens will shy away from those breeds. These are the types of owners that communities need to encourage, not drive away.

3. Communities that have instituted such bans often find that the irresponsible owners and the criminals who use dogs for illegal purposes simply switch to another breed.

4. Breeds and mixes are hard to identify and often dogs are mislabeled and destroyed based on paranoia and prejudice and also punishes those that are good canine citizens. Many breeds function as assistance dogs for handicapped owners, search and rescue dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, police dogs, etc. and drives them out of the community.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and several state veterinary medical associations oppose breed-specific legislation for just this reason.

5. The dog most restricted is the “pit bull.” A pit bull is a type of dog, not a recognized breed. See the breed information page for more detail.

6. Passage of laws that are only enforced through complaints cause two problems: 1) they create disrespect for the law if authorities require compliance only upon complaint, and 2) they provide ammunition for neighborhood feuds. (From PBRC)

This is something that people need to realize; Dog attacks are usually the fault of an irresponsible owner, not a specific breed. Therefore, banning an entire breed will solve nothing. The irresponsible owners will just most likely move on to another breed, and continue making bad choices regarding their dogs. BSL targets the breed, not the owner where the responsibility belongs.

More Facts

BSL is Unconstitutional as found by US Courts:

  • The United States Supreme Court – Nicchia v. People of the State of New York 254 U.S. 228 (1920) : gave police the power to regulate and control dangerous dogs with drastic measures, as long as it does not infringe on the dog owner’s right to liberty with due process.
  • The Alabama Supreme Court – WAF/Sheila Tack v. Huntsville Alabama (2002): upheld a decision that pit bulls were no more inherently dangerous than any other breed. This case was very costly to the city of Huntsville.
  • The Toledo Municipal Court– Tellings v. City of Toledo CRB-02-15267 (ACF 2005): ruled American Pit Bull Terriers are not dangerous and granted dog owner’s due process rights.
  • The Ohio Supreme Court – State v. Cowan (103 Ohio St. 3d 144, 2004-Ohio-4777) (2004) struck down ORC955:11 which declared the “Pit Bull” vicious, because it violates our rights to be heard (due process).
  • Westbury, NY (Spring 2003) court ruled that the city’s BSL was unconstitutional and repealed the law.

Organizations against Breed Specific Legislation:

  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • The American Kennel Club (AKC)
  • The United Kennel Club (UKC)
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
  • Dog Legislation Council of Canada (DLCC)
  • American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS)
  • National Animal Control Association (NACA)
  • Maryland Veterinary Medicine Association
  • Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
  • American Canine Foundation (ACF)

Now if all of these highly reputable organizations are against BSL, doesn’t that make people realize they maybe they should have second thoughts about imposing BSL, aside from the fact that it has been found to be unconstitutional in many US courts of law?

What are your thoughts on this? Please feel free to comment.

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