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Pit Bull Proposal To Be Amended

Discussion in 'Breed Specific Legislation' started by Vicki, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. Vicki

    Vicki Administrator Administrator

    Former breed-specific provisions in ordinance bid will apply to all dogs


    Metro Councilman Mike Walker said he is abandoning his effort to pass breed-specific regulations aimed at pit bulls in East Baton Rouge Parish.

    “The ultimate object of all this is to get at least seven council votes for a stronger law. Well, I can’t do that if I stay breed-specific. Reality sets in,†he said.

    Walker said he asked the parish attorney’s office to remove all of the breed-specific provisions from his proposed ordinance, which is supposed to go before the full council Wednesday.

    Instead of targeting pit bulls, Walker said, he wants the regulations to apply to any breed of dog that bites someone or is deemed a dangerous or vicious dog due to behavioral problems.

    Parish Attorney Wade Shows had repeatedly advised against the breed-specific provisions, claiming they might not withstand a court challenge because they treat pit bull owners differently from other dog owners.

    But Walker pushed the issue, and Shows reluctantly drafted legislation that would have required pit bull owners to register their pets, and to have microchips inserted into them for identification purposes.

    For pit bulls that are kept outside, the proposed ordinance would have required them to be confined to pens or kennels within a fenced yard that had signs that say, “PIT BULL ON PREMISES.†The proposed regulations would have required pit bulls to be muzzled when in public, and would have prohibited them from entering schools, day-care centers and nursing homes.

    Pit bull owners turned out in force before a council committee last Wednesday to protest the proposed breed-specific regulations.

    “I got to thinking about the testimony at the (committee) meeting and the recommendations that were made; I think the statesmanly thing to do is the tweak this ordinance at this time before it ever goes before my colleagues on the council. I think my fellow council member will appreciate that, and are more likely to support it than if I had stuck with breed-specific provisions,†Walker said.

    One of the recommendations made during the public hearing was to form another committee that included pit bull owners and organizations to work on the proposed ordinance.

    Walker said he doesn’t think a committee is necessary if the breed-specific language is removed from his ordinance.

    “We’re also taking out the definition of a pit bull out of the ordinance, because now it won’t make any difference,†Walker said.

    Walker’s proposed ordinance had drawn criticism because it would have slapped the breed-specific regulations on any mixed-breed dog that appeared to animal control officers to resemble a pit bull.

    Walker said he now wants to target dangerous and vicious dogs, along with irresponsible owners. In addition, Walker said he wants to beef up the Animal Control budget to put more officers on the street to enforce the proposed ordinance.

    Diane Baum, who lives with three pit bulls, said the breed-specific regulations would have almost certainly triggered a legal challenge.

    Baum said a group of local pit bull owners had contacted a New Orleans attorney — who also is director of the Humane Society of Louisiana — to get involved in fighting Walker’s breed-specific proposal.

    “We were ready to take this to the next level if the Council passed a breed-specific ordinance,†Baum said.

    Baum said the hysteria surrounding pit bulls is based on stereotypes, not fact.

    Baum said she’s had pit bulls all her life, and has never had one bite anyone.

    “I grew up in Jefferson Parish. My father was a police officer and we always had pit bulls,†Baum said.

    Also applauding Walker’s decision to do away with the breed-specific regulations was Tammy Davis with Baton Rouge-based American Pit Bull Rescue Inc., an organization that rescues and attempts to find good homes for pit bulls.

    Davis said pit bulls are the most abused and neglected breed of dog, but make good pets because they are smart and eager to please humans.

    “At one time, pit bulls were used as ‘nanny dogs’ to baby-sit children. Now, some people think they eat children, and that’s mostly due to hysteria,†Davis said.

    She said that in nine of 10 cases, the problems caused by pit bulls are the fault of irresponsible or abusive owners.


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