I have several stories that I've been wanting to do their own posts for -- because they are pretty big deals -- but just haven't been able to find the time. But I need to get the stories out sooner rather than later and am backed up on a few other things going on. So, with that, here are a few pretty major stories that I want to be sure are on the radar:
City Councilwoman Mary Collette is looking to make a change to how the city handles 'pit bulls'. Back in 2006, Springfield passed a ban on all 'pit bulls' in the city. As the law is currently being practiced, if a 'pit bull' type dog comes into the shelter, unless it is quickly claimed by the owner, the dog is killed. (It should be noted that the LAW doesn't specify that this has to happen, but as a matter of policy, the animal shelter is killing the dogs).
The city is going to discuss this issue again on Monday night at 7:00 -- after tabling the proposal last week because a few of the council members are putting even tighter restrictions on who can pull the dogs -- requiring groups to come up with $500,000 of insurance per dog and requiring the dogs to be adopted out more than 100 miles away from the city. None of these requirements are necessary for rescue groups when pulling other types of dogs.
While I don't in any way support the city's (paranoia-driven) pit bull ban, I am at the very least supportive of letting some of the dogs be pulled from the shelter instead of forcing them to be instantly killed.
Sioux City, IA
On March 21st, Sioux City, IA began enforcing its ban on 'pit bulls', and impounded 10 dogs in the first 3 days. However, people are hopping mad about it.
Turns out one woman had her dogs taken from her and was given paperwork to sign off on "acknowledging" that the dogs had been taken. There was also, supposedly, a signature requirement for euthanasia, that the dog's owner did not sign because she planned to appeal the measure and move herself and her dogs out of town. However, the dogs were instantly put down in the shelter and the dogs' owner wants to know why.
When KMEG 14 asked animal control for a copy of the form owners had to sign, staff denied their initial request -- essentially violating state open records laws. The news station eventually did get the form.
It is not uncommon for cities to have this type of paperwork that they force people to sign when they confiscate dogs. They will usually tell them that the paperwork is to "acknowledge" that the dog is being taken, but often has wording that incriminates them in some way by stating that they are acknowledging the dog is a "pit bull" or that the dog can be euthanized. This paperwork, when it is self-incriminating and doesn't allow for a trial before the dogs are destroyed (which is what happened in this case), is usually seen as a violation of the 5th Amendment rights under the US Constitution. If the woman was forced to sign either of the lines in the document, I do believe this would qualify. You cannot force soemone to give up their right to a trial.
A group of residents in Sioux City are filing a petition now for a repeal on the ban.
The Nebraska Humane Society released the first quarter stats on dog citations this week. After they passed their breed-specific restrictions, 43 citations were written for 'pit bull' owners who could not provide proof of insurance, and 32 more for not having proper restraints (most were apparently on too long of a leash.
19 tickets were issued for dogs remaining tethered outside for a long period of time.
17 dogs were declared dangerous (no breed info available on that).
It remains very disturbing to me that NHS continues to define "success" of their ordinance based on the number of tickets they write vs things like decreasing the number of dogs killed in shelters or improved public safety (which it is appearing to not be doing).. However, because they will not release their records to the public, they get to choose how they define "success".
Meanwhile,it should be noted that NHS has been caught bullying 'pit bull' owners -- with at least one case where they arrested someone for 'not cooperating" with an investigation when the dog owner refused to show them his dog. NHS did not have a warrant for a search, but arrested the man for not giving up his Constitutional right to be unjustly searched and his dog seized. After police arrived, it was later determined that the man's dog was not responsible for a bite - -but the man was still fined.
By the way, I love that the TV station cites that "Pit bull violations lead the field" when that was the primary target of the ordinance -- so of COURSE they do. Mediots.
In other Omaha news, they have an important election coming up on Tuesday. Jim Suttle, someone who was rational during the passing of their ridiculous ordinance, is running for Mayor against city councilman Jim Vokal. Vokal was one of the ring leaders behind pushing forward on the breed specific restrictions in spite of recommendations against it from virtually everyone in the city. So go out and vote for Jim Suttle on Tuesday, for the good of the city.