I'm not going to have time to get to a complete Weekly Roundup this week. I'll get most of the stories up in next week's roundup, but there are a couple of stories I think are really important from this week that I want to make some comments on.
Last week, SB 250 -- a bill that would mandate the spay/neuter of all dogs and cats in the state of California - thankfully failed in the Senate. This is great news given that the law is not based on what is good for animals when the state's largest city has tried the law and has failed miserably with it. The final vote was way closer than it should be -- 34 for, 40 against, 4 not voting. If you live in California, contact your Senator. If they voted against the bill, thank them for making a wise decision. If they voted for the bill, contact them and tell them to look at the failure of the law elsewhere and pursuade them to not repeat the mistakes of others.
The law could be resurrected at any time, so please keep and eye on this and work to educate your senator so they realize that even the majority of animal welfare groups oppose this law -- because it doesn't work.
More on the laws in a great blog post from the Pet Connection.
I posted the news about Southern's plea deal on Wednesday, but Donna has a follow up that is better, and more detailed than mine (which makes sense, she was there after all). It turns out that the DA accepted Southern's plea deal to a sentence of 90 days because the judge that was hearing the case has a track record of not giving harsh sentences -- and in fact, deferring sentences a lot -- and the DA thought it was worth getting SOME jail time vs no time at all (which sounds like a real possible option).
We must continue to push judges into realizing that harsh sentences are deserved for severe cruelty cases like this so that abusers like Southern, who was a repeat offender with no remorse, should not be allowed to get free passes for their actions.
Sioux City BSL Continues to fail
Back in 2008, Sioux City, IA passed a ban on 'pit bull' type dogs. The ban has been nothing but headaches for them since it's passing, including multiple lawsuits, and other problems.
Turns out dog bites are up too.
Last week, a 19 month old boy suffered severe puncture wounds, collapsed lungs, a bruised kidney, a bleeding spleen and stomach and pancreas damage after being attacked by a Husky-type dog that was chained up in the neighbor's yard. This of course follows a year in which the city focused on breeds of dogs being responsible for attacks, not aggressive dogs regardless of breed, chaining dogs, and unsupervised toddlers wandering up to those dogs. This story was actually on the front page of the Sioux City Journal on Thursday morning.
Bites are up in Sioux City this year. The city is already at the same number of dog bites as they recorded in all of last year. Here are the dog bites over the past several years:
2006 - 88
2007 - 115
2008 - 94
2009 - 81
2010 - 81 (pace 122)
So outside of a very crazy 2007 -- the city averaged 88 dog bites per year- and was on a downward trend. The 2009 numbers (about 2/3 of which had the BSL ordinance) numbers were pretty good -- but 2010 is shaping up to be a complete disaster in terms of dog bites -- in large part because of the ordinance. And as you can see, the severity of the injuries has not decreased.
When cities focus on the wrong things -- like breeds -- instead of the right things like promoting responsible dog ownership, bad things happen. Sioux City is continuing to show their failures with their breed ban - -even though they are stubbornly holding onto the ordinance.
Last month, the Department of Justice released an official statement about the Americans with Disabilities Act and how all service dogs are protected under the ADA - -and that cities with bans on particular breeds do not trump the ADA. Service dogs are to be welcomed under the ADA regardless of breed (and regardless of what the city thinks of that breed).
So, now the city of Denver is re-evaluating their breed ban. Well, they have to. At the very least they're going to have to adjust the law to allow for service dogs in the city -- particularly since Denver is currently facing three lawsuits for harrassing people protected under the ADA with 'pit bull' type service dogs under the city's breed ban.
The city is looking for a quick end to the situation given in order to squash the lawsuits and stop the mounting legal fees in a time when the city is facing a major budget deficit.
The city will likely get rid of the breed bans for service dogs (they have to) -- but it is already causing some to ask the question that if the Department of Justice suggests that breed bans for service dogs are overly broad, why not for all dogs?
At this point, I highly doubt that Denver will really consider a full-on repeal. There doesn't appear to be much support for a full-on repeal at city hall or in the city attorney's office (where the assistant city attorney build his career on the ban and refuses to acknowledge the ban's failure in spite of the numbers and in spite of the reality that the law is causing the city a huge amount of wasted funds). But I think eventually the ridiculousness of banning dogs that are capable of being service dogs, the huge difficulty of enforcing the ban with the ADA guidelines now impacting Denver, and, well, the fact that the whole law is ignorant an ineffective, will lead to the law being repealed. But it may take some more time. Or not. But the law is crumbling....