News from the Animal Law Coalition...
The Gallipolis, Ohio City Commission has passed an ordinance banning pit bull breeds and mixes.
Specifically, any dog that "contains as an element of its breeding the breed of American Pit Bull Terrier, any Bull Terrier, any Staffordshire Terrier, or any American Staffordshire Terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed" of one of these breeds.
The ordinance says banned dogs will be confined by the dog warden or upon court order. The city says in practice owners caught with pit bull breeds or mixes will have 7 days to remove the dogs from the town.
That is, unless they demonstrate "vicious" behavior. In that event, police will seize and impound the dog. More likely, they will simply shoot the dog. The town defines "vicious" to mean behavior that causes any injury.
Failure to comply is a misdemeanor which can mean up to 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine.
This ordinance was prompted by injuries sustained by a 13 year old girl who entered the home of an owner of 2 pit bull dogs. The owner and his family were unaware the girl was in the home. She had apparently let herself in the door. When police arrived, they shot the dogs. The owner is a longtime pit bull breeder.
Canine Advocates of Ohio has requested police records to learn more about this incident.
One resident said that a neighbor has already reported her for having a pit bull. But her dog is a Poi. The determination about whether a dog is a pit bull breed is left to the police. It is reported that officers are now learning how to identify pit bull breeds and mixes as described by this ordinance. An impossible task.
Gallipolis is on the Ohio and West Virginia border.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please write, fax and email city commissioners and urge them to repeal NOW the breed ban. Use the information below as talking points. Please be polite.
To mail a letter to the Gallipolis City Commission, City Manager or City Solicitor:
Attention: Gallipolis City Commission, City Manager and/or City Solicitor
518 Second Avenue
Gallipolis , Ohio 45631
City Manager C. Joseph Woodall, firstname.lastname@example.org
FAX a letter to the Gallipolis City Commission, City Manager and City Solicitor - (740) 441-2070
City Clerk Annette M. Landers: (740) 441-6004
C. Joseph Woodall, City Manager: (740) 446-1789
Brent Saunders, City Solicitor: (740) 441-6030
Ohio law already defines a "vicious" dog to include "pit bulls". These dogs already live in Ohio with onerous restrictions as a result.
BSL does not work.
Breed specific legislation simply does not make communities safe from dog bites or attacks. Dogs don't bite because of breed. Dogs bite because they are afraid, and that is almost always because of poor socialization and lack of positive training, isolation on a chain, abuse, neglect or other negligent or criminal acts of the owner.
BSL penalizes responsible owners and has resulted in the needless deaths of thousands of family pets. In fact, untold numbers of non-pit bull dogs have died because it is virtually impossible for anyone to look at a dog and identify its breed or mix of breeds. More than 20 different breeds have been mistaken for pit bulls. And, these dogs thought to be pit bulls or mixes are many times made up of many different breeds.
The cost of this proposed law will be substantial for taxpayers.
There will be substantial cost to Gallipolis as a result of this law which is based on a myth that breed is predictive of danger. A pit bull ban means additional police and animal control workers for identification and enforcement and litigation, sheltering, vet care and other costs of care for restricted breeds that have been impounded and must be held pending hearings; less in licensing fees as owners decline to register restricted breeds for fear of not being able to afford or follow through on restrictions; an increase in restricted breeds in shelters in surrounding communities, less shelter and resources for other animals that are euthanized.
A huge potential cost in a tough economic time.
Send this link to Gallipolis officials: "What Your Community Leaders Need to Know About BSL" Tell them it is impossible to predict a dog's behavior based on breed or appearance. Urge them to take steps to address the reasons dogs bite.