Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Changing the way we think about animal control

Much has changed in the field of animal control in the past five years. We know how to end the killing of all healthy adoptable dogs and cats. We know how to implement cost effective, community supported feral cat programs, low cost spay/neuter services and proactive adoption programs. Many animal shelters across the country have no only embraced the No Kill philosophy, but more important the programs and services that make that possible.

One would think that with all this success is saving shelter pets innovative communities like Gwinnett would be leading the charge at our own shelter – but it is not.

After an exhaustive study on how our county provides it’s advise our animal related issues it became apparent that the system was broken.  Detailed documents on every Animal Advisory Council meeting in the years from 2006 through the summer of 2008 showed an alarming disconnection with issues that plagued our shelter.

It became apparent that we not only needed to reform how we ran our shelter but more importantly how we developed our animal welfare policies and restore confidence with pet owners in the community.

The “Animal Advisory Council Reform Resolution” tackles the difficult process of how we provide expert advise to our political process in developing a long term animal welfare program that not only meets the expectations of the community but more importantly looks at programs that will reduce the cost of animal control moving forward while putting an end to the killing on healthy dogs and cats that our shelter is supposed to protect.

The credit for this resolution goes to AAC members Carla Brown and Tim Montgomery who worked diligently in finding common ground. The resolution is up for consideration by our commissioners is collaboration with the current animal advisory council who passed this resolution without dissent.

As in any change – the “devil is in the details” – here is precisely what these changes are::

The membership changes from the current seven members to eleven. Only two positions were left intact under the new makeup of the board, they are the Lawrenceville Kennel Club and the Gwinnett Municpal Association retains.

The Gwinnett County Extension Service position was eliminated and replaced with a representative from the “Livestock Animals”

Gwinnett Humane Society’s position has been eliminated and replaced with a representative for the “Gwinnett Rescue community”.

The Feline Interest position remains but will be filled by a representative from the Feline Rescue community specifically with experience in developing a feral cat program.

The two “Member at Large” positions have been eliminated and replaced with one member being appointed by each commissioner’s district and a representative appointed by the county Chair. This will form the direct communication link between the advisory council and the board of commissioners that has been lacking.

The advisory council will no longer report findings and recommendations to animal control and the Gwinnett Police Department but instead forward these recommendations directly to the Board of Commissioners. The GAAC will forward only those recommendations that have been approved by majority vote.

It will remain the responsibility of the Board of Commissioners to make final decisions on all recommendations submitted.

There are also procedural issues that were addressed.

Officers elected to the same office will have a two-year term limit.

Two Year Term Limit on chair position.

Members can set up subcommittees that investigate specific issues/problems without approval from animal control or the GPD.  This will set in motion creating subcommittees to investigate solutions for problems like feral cats, building a no kill community and developing an animal services unit that serves and educates the community on responsible pet ownership.  This coalition building will bring together many of the experts in animal welfare who have been disenfranchised from the process.

This is not cosmetic change - this is changing our animal welfare culture.  This is about opening up the door for others to join in on the discussion and participate in the process.

The most significant change comes with HOW this group will study issues.

Section 12 – Committees – The chairman may appoint, with concurrence of the GAAC, various standing and temporary committees to further proposals of the GAAC. Such committees may include members of the staff of various county departments, residents and business owners of the county whose background and knowledge may be a benefit of the GAAC in accomplishing it’s goals.

The purpose of the committees shall be to make detailed investigations, stidies and recommendations to the GAAC as instructed pertaining to matters or classes of matters within it’s purview.

The Chairman or Vice-Chairman shall be an ex-officio member of all committees.

This step alone opens up the process of developing breakthrough thinking leading the way towards solving long-term problems with animal issues in our community.

We now stand on the mountain of change.  While our efforts have brought us to this pinacle - it will be YOUR efforts that decide our county's destiny.   The question is "do we want to slip backwards and return to the valley of failure and doom" or do we want to march boldly on to the promised land that embraces life saving thinking instead.  I think we know that answer.

Please write your commissioner and ask for their support in passing this resolution.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The long and winding road to Animal Advisory Reform

Thirty months ago, I went in front of the BOC to discuss the controversial animal ordinance passed in January of 2007. That ordinance passed in all of “sixteen seconds” without allowing any public reading of the proposed changes or more importantly – asking Gwinnett County’s pet owners for their comments on the new law.

With that vote thousands of pet owners throughout the county discovered that even being a responsible pet owner could lead to criminal charges being filed for such minor infractions as barking dogs, dogs tethered for short periods of time, no tags, and a number of other issues that micro-manage the care we provide our pets. Offenses that should have been “fix it” citations instead had pet owners facing losing their pets.

For their role, the solicitor’s office (who drafted and were charged with prosecuting the draconian bill) used the threats of jail and huge fines to intimidate pet owners into surrendering their family pets. Pet owners were being threatened with lengthy jail terms only further endangering their ability to care for their family members and their pets.

Instead of focusing our animal control resources on educating citizens on how to be responsible pet owners, our animal control resources and judicial resources were being directed towards prosecuting and impounding pets with the worst possible consequences leading to even more deaths at our brand new shelter.

How this revised ordinance became "law" is even more disturbing. This revision of animal ordinances in Gwinnett was passed solely on the recommendations of the county attorney's office with the blessing of Gwinnett's dysfunctional and highly secretive Animal Advisory Council.

Battle lines being drawn – nobodies right when owning a pet is wrong

At the June 24th 2008 BOC meeting each of the commissioner’s was provided with copies of the Animal Advisory Bylaws and copies of all Animal Advisory Council meetings held in 2006 drafting those changes.

One longtime advocate wrote this as her observation

“This shadowy group (AAC) in no way represents the citizens of Gwinnett County and in fact hides from us, refusing to post it’s meetings, agendas, or minutes on Gwinnett County’s excellent website, which is intended to keep Gwinnett citizens informed. I have attended many (AAC) council meetings and in almost every case I was the only non-member in attendance.

She further went on to report “The partisan inclinations of the core membership, combined with lack of participation from several members and complete isolation from county citizens, resulted in the council’s passage and the Commissioners’ subsequent passage of an animal ordinance of such breathtakingly draconian nature that it punishes the most minor infractions with thousands of dollars in fines and years in jail without the benefit of a jury trial. This ordinance has made Gwinnett a laughingstock among animal law specialists across the country, with several lawyers expressing the opinion that the law is unconstitutional on a variety of grounds. I sincerely hope our commissioners will expand the Council’s membership to be more inclusive and require it to abide by the spirit, not merely the letter, of Georgia’s Sunshine Laws.”

While each of the sitting commissioners received this information only then candidate Shirley Lassiter responded with “it would appear that holding any government meeting should be professional, open and convenient to all the citizens.”

We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett couldn’t agree more. We not only believe that these meetings should be open to the public but more importantly the communication between pet owners in the community and the commissioners should be transparent and it is not.

Over the past thirty months our organization has worked diligently in presenting an “Animal Advisory Reform Resolution” that corrects these communication and transparency issues. Unlike the Animal Ordinance that was passed without public input our organization reached out across the county with full disclosure on all the issues involved.

We sought out the opinions of pet owners on issue that related to responsibly owning pets. We fought off numerous attempts by the AAC to drop these issues from AAC’s agenda. In the end these discussions generated the issues that were in serious need of reform. In the end we found common ground and compromise that served the citizens and gave a voice to responsible pet owners in Gwinnett.

The proposed revisions to the Animal Advisory Council Bylaws were drafted, discussed, argued and negotiated for close to a year now. To date, there has been nothing but support from the citizens on the final resolution that passed during the April 20th 2010 AAC meeting.

This resolution has been voted on and passed, the time for negotiation and discussion at this level is over. For animal control and the Gwinnett Police Department to hold these changes hostage six months later to protect the status quo of “catch and kill” is un-conscionable. It is NOW time to bring these issues to a vote in front of the commissioners who WE elected to oversee our interests.

Paranoia strikes deep – into your life it will creep

During the last AAC meeting the issue of reforming the Animal Advisory Council once again reared it’s ugly head. Shelter Director Lt. Respess brought up “new” concerns explaining “Animal Control and our superiors have concerns about the way the resolution is written”. With an air of pettiness animal control’s concerns focused on two areas, one “they” wanted to add a condition that “no one could serve in an advisory position who had violated any animal ordinance”. This stipulation is not only insulting to the citizens who would step forward but to the Commissioners as well, who I would hope would exercise good judgment and appoint people to this committee who they themselves have vetted. Appointments to the advisory council should NOT require approval from animal control or the Gwinnett Police Department especially in light of oversight implications.

One of many major malfunctions of the current makeup of the AAC is that anyone who disagrees with current (failed) policies at the shelter runs the risk of losing their position as an advisor. This stifles created innovation and leaves us with a process of simply defending the status quo. The current process of animal control and/or the Gwinnett Police Department having 100% control over who gets appointed or is allowed to stay on the AAC limits the free exchange of ideas.

The second area of newly created dispute was the reorganization that eliminated several obsolete positions on the AAC and replaced then with slots that addressed the county’s primary issues with animal control.

Animal control sought to keep Gwinnett Humane Society position while sacrificing a position for the rescue community at large. For several years now Gwinnett Humane has held a position on this council and yet open records have yet to offer any program or insight offered that would benefit the rescue community at large. Nothing has been proposed that would assist in building the critical partnerships with the rescue community but instead focuses on self-preservation of their own needs.

The number of pets going to rescue is down by over thirty percent since the new shelter opened. New leadership that understands the importance of building partnership with those who rescue dogs and cats is critical to our long-term success in reducing the carnage. This won’t happen without a voice that understands the significance these partnerships offer.

Building partnerships with rescue community will result in fewer animals being killed and return a substantial cost saving to the county as well – it costs MONEY to end a pet’s life – it costs NOTHING to send that same pet to rescue. This, the new feline interest position and individual representatives from each of the commissioners were areas that were never open for compromise.

Obviously, change is needed to dramatically turn around our failing shelter. Pouring money into a broken process is NOT a solution – change in thinking is. Several positions were removed with even more new positions created – those groups who felt disenfranchised would still have an option of lobbying for one of these openings.

The time for talk, the time for negotiation is over – we have a passed resolution that must be passed on to the BOC for an up or down vote.

People speaking their minds – getting so much resistance from behind

With thirty months invested in this reform effort “We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett” is past the point of offering further compromise. To hold these changes and the resulting citizen oversight hostage while thousands of dogs and cats are being killed is simply not acceptable. We are NOW reaching out to the community to support the “Animal Advisory Council Reform Resolution” with an up or down vote.

Our constituents have strong feelings on moving forward with building a more humane community for our homeless pets. We are solid in our support of building a No Kill community. Those feelings are being realized with the growth of No Kill Gwinnett.

Our supporters come from all walks of life, your church, your neighbors, your friends in rescue and in many members who work in and around Gwinnett County government. We may not agree on all the issues but there is a common bond that there is no moral foundation for ending an innocent dog or cats life simply because it’s convenient and because we can.

Rather then focusing on resolving the serious issues we have at animal control, far too many dogs and cats being killed, we end up with a broken partnership with the rescue community and a lack of professionalism in leadership that has resulted in serious morale issues that look the other way. The result is a process that does nothing but protect a failed model of status quo.

A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say hoorah for our side

The battle hymm's being sung, we are all tired of all the dire sideshows of personal ambition and goals rift with excuses and blame that changes nothing and allows the killing as usual to become our standard animal welfare policy. We are tired of being harassed and intimidated simply because we choose to include pets as an intregal part of our family unit.  Pets are NOT a nuisance issue - they are a quality of life issue.
We the Pet Owners of Gswinnett have presented a positive package for professional advise on animal welfare issues moving into the future. The makeup of this team would consists of citizens passionate about representing ALL points of view with a new focus where it’s needed most – lowering the number of dogs and cats killed at our tax supported shelter.

The new advisory council will be able to investigate not only life saving programs but cost saving programs as well. The new advisory council will be more responsive to not only pet owners in our community but there will be a dramatic improvement in the communication between citizens and their commissioners on animal related issues.

More importantly, the commissioners will finally have direct communication with the advisors they appoint and not be limited with ideas or proposals that have been screened by animal control.

The makeup of the Animal Advisory Board is in serious need of new blood which will include active participation by local pet owners and private volunteer rescuers who have for too long now been silenced from this process.

While the current makeup of the AAC may be powerless to do anything more then protect their own self-interest “WE PET OWNERS” have the power of electing commissioners who protect not only our families interests but our rights to responsibly own and protect our family pets.

There will be a meeting with the Board of Commissioner’s on Tuesday December 14th at Gwinnett’s Judicial Center. The meeting starts at 2:00 PM and the public is permitted to speak at the end. It is imperative that our community’s pets be represented as well as Gwinnett’s other important issues.

Those of you who have something to add to this dialog are encouraged to write out your thoughts that can be presented via email or presented to the commissioners for consideration during this public forum.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gwinnett gets tough on Pit Bulls but soft on drunk drivers

Caught this off Twitter:

SNELLVILLE - A Gwinnett teen has been charged with running over about two dozen mailboxes in Snellville and Loganville neighborhoods during an after-party vandalism spree, police said.

Phillip Rohrer, 18, of Snellville and a passenger reportedly took a destructive joyride in a 1997 Dodge Ram on Loganville’s Brusymill Court and Snellville’s Hidden Forest Drive, among other locations, about 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Rohrer is responsible for toppling and damaging 24 mailboxes in the spree

and from the Gwinnett Daily Post

SNELLVILLE — A Gwinnett teen has been charged with running over about two dozen mailboxes in Snellville and Loganville neighborhoods during an after-party vandalism spree, police said.

Phillip Rohrer, 18, of Snellville and a passenger reportedly took a destructive joyride in a 1997 Dodge Ram on Loganville’s Brusymill Court and Snellville’s Hidden Forest Drive, among other locations, about 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Rohrer is responsible for toppling and damaging 24 mailboxes in the spree.

A noise complaint led a patrol officer to the area, where the officer spotted the loud green truck barreling past with one headlight and a busted taillight, according to a Gwinnett police report.

The officer pulled the truck over and questioned Rohrer, who admitted to drinking at a friend’s party before destructive urges came over him, the report states.

“He said he was bored and decided to go run over people’s mailboxes for fun,” the officer wrote. “He said he went into a few neighborhoods and ran over mailboxes.”

Rohrer’s passenger, Graham Fidler, told police he was being taken home from the same party when Rohrer decided to “go joyriding,” the report says.

Police charged Rohrer with 10 counts of criminal trespass and ticketed him for a headlight violation and underage possession of alcohol. The Georgia Gwinnett College student was released on bond Tuesday.

Fidler, the passenger, was ticketed for underage possession of alcohol. Jail records list him as an Athens Tech student.

Tough questions that weren't asked.
So let me be clear – this teen admits to leaving a party at 4:00 AM AFTER drinking – has another teen in his truck WITH ALCOHOL – runs over 24 mailboxes and he ISN’T charged with DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE?

What do you have to do to get charged with DUI – KILL SOMEONE?

Gwinnett Police did charge Rohrer with having “broken lens covers” and “failure to maintain working headlights” – I guess that was the result of RUNNING DOWN 24 mailboxes. They did charge him with “improper lane change” – I guess it is an “improper lane change” when you drive OFF THE ROAD to run down mailboxes. But the TOUGH question is WHY NO DUI?

It is troublesome to know that this teen was released from jail and can STILL operate a motor vehicle. In a county so concerned about public safety that discussions of requiring pit bull owners to run through hoops to keep their family pets simply because of a few isolated incidents involving pit bulls would not realize how many teenagers die from drinking and driving.

Why wasn't the person responsible for allowing underage teens to illegally drink and leave the aprty at 4:00 AM not charged as well?  It is exceptable for adults to look the other way while our children are acting in such an irresponsible way?  I think if you ask any parent who has lost a child or family member at the hands of someone driving drunk that answer would be obvious.

It has ALWAYS been troublesome for this writer to experience first hand the laxness our Recorder’s Court seems to have with drunk driving offenses as well. In the fifteen times I was in court for my dog barking offences NOT once was a drunk driver sentenced to 24 months probation like I was. In fact, Judge Muise is soft on drunk drivers typically handing out NO JAIL TIME – instead choosing to allow these potential killers to serve probation terms of six to twelve months.

Barking dogs don’t pose any danger to the community – Muise sentenced me to thirty days in jail because I CHOSE to own dogs that bark. Obviously, she is less concerned about people who CHOOSE to get behind the wheel of their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The County Solicitor’s Office shares responsibility for this lax enforcement of our drunk driving laws.

It's time the politicians and public officials entrusted to keeping our community safe pull their heads out of the sand or wherever they have them and ENFORCE the law.  Barking dogs and pit bulls are the least of our problems.  The problem with our judicial system is pet owners are guilty until and if they can prove their pets innocent while drunken criminals aren't even charged.
Not only is she a lousy judge who doesn’t understand or care about the constitution (in favor of her own personal agenda) her rulings put all of us in danger. The citizens of Gwinnett deserve better then that.

With the holidays approaching let’s hope more families don’t have blood spilled, their dreams and lives destroyed at the hands of a drunk driver.  We'll be staying off the roads - obviously, it's not safe out there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Gift of Death to an Extreme Animal Rights Movement

I wrote "A gift of death to an extreme animal rights movement" in December of 2008 on my "Trailed by 20 Hounds" blog.  In this article the foundation of pet ownership philosophy was examined.  More so, the foundation of deceit coming out of the leaders in the animal rights movement was also put under the spotlight.

From the article "This philosophy of defending policies of humane euthanasia while professing to protect animal rights is a contradiction that can not be explained. One would assume that at the point an animal is killed any right or lack of it the animal might be entitled to becomes a mute point."

Shelter reform advocates have stopped questioning how shelters choose to kill dogs and cats entrusted to their care with instead asking on what moral authority do we kill at all?  In the absence of implementing life saving programs this one single question remains unanswered today.  There is no moral support for killing any dog or cat that isn't suffering with a terminal illness.

Owning and enjoying pets is always about choice and responsibility. The nucleus for moderate animal advocacy must include opposition to pet limit laws, BSL, mandatory spay/neuter and nuisance animal laws that include provisions that allow for impounding and killing as a sentencing guideline.

To read more:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Neighborhood Bully under seige

An ordinance being considered in Gwinnett would require all Pit bull owners to register their dogs under the new law. The new ordinance would also discriminate against pit bull owners by requiring them to provide name, address and a registration fee to the county to possess a pit bull. Owners would also have to provide proof of insurance, a full description of the pit bull, including a photo, and proof of inoculation. They would be required to provide a study enclosure that does not share fencing with a perimeter fence.

Penalties under the law proposed would include fines, jail time and court ordered impounding of any dogs identified as pits even if the dogs have never demonstrated vicious or aggressive behavior.

The decision to end a healthy pet's life has always been a flashpoint for conflict, more than ever this decision making process is being contested––and the disputes are increasingly often taken to the outside world. In effect, all pit bulls or even dogs suspected of being pits would be guilty even if proven innocent.

The law would still define as vicious any dog that, without provocation, has killed or injured a person or has killed another dog with an absolute presumption pit bulls are by definition violent and vicious.

Is BSL a license to kill?

The neighborhood bully he just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down while his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully

His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He’s got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, the chances are against it, and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that politicians make for him
Cause there’s a noose around his neck and a gun at his head
And now a license to kill him is given to every maniac – Bob Dylan

When pit bulls are outlawed, only outlaws will own pit bulls

An ad hoc committee set up to draft a new “Dangerous Dog Ordinance” in Douglasville has all but died when Public Safety committee chair announced he was not interested in considering it any further. Instead, the discussion has shifted to evaluating what can be done enforcing the current provisions as written under the current animal ordinances.

Taxpayers want community police resources to be directed at real criminals, not dog owners. The public wants the drugs and the gang bangers and thugs doing home invasions to be hauled off – not the neighbors’ friendly family pet that oftentimes acts as the only line of defense against these punks.

We certainly don’t want to pay to have our animal control agencies conduct witch hunts, deprive honest law abiding citizens of their constitutional rights while implement an agenda of breed specific genocide.

Some believe the vicious image of the pit bull is part of its intrigue. Regulations that criminalize pit bulls only add to the mystique and criminal appeal. Those inclined to participate in gang activity or the drug underworld are not going to line up at animal control with pictures of their pit bulls to register their pit bulls.

We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett are opposed to any breed specific legislation (BSL). The recommendations suggested by our county law department swould dramatically increase the number of pit bulls entering and being killed at our shelter while virtually eliminating any possible adoptions opportunities.

We cannot support BSL type of regulations while building a NO Kill Community. It is be morally reprehensible to kill any dog innocent of any wrongdoing. Our position is that the actions of the dog that makes the dog vicious, not the breed line.

BSL does not work and will not work because the target of the laws – those irresponsible pit bull owners – are the criminals, the drug dealers, the gangbangers and those inclined to fight their dogs would not be registering their dogs with any policing agency.

BSL type laws passed requiring registration are largely ignored. Since pit bull owners would be required to take out liability insurance on their dog and build a separate enclosure, they would now have an financial incentive not to register.

Those responsible pet owners who simply could not afford to comply under the new requirements would have to choose between surrendering their pets or not following the law which would turn their pet ownership into a criminal act.

Criminals who will continue to own pit bulls irresponsibly and responsible pit bull owners who were role models in the community would now be partners in the crime of owning a pit bull. The cost of enforcing this new law and sorting out the various criminal elements would be enormous – any positive results would not.

For Pit Owners “register or you can’t have them here”

A recent WSB-TV investigation of a pit bull attack in Snellville this past August made it clear that the owner(s) of the dogs involved allowed these dogs to run at large. The owner(s) was in clear violation of the leash and restraint provisions of our current “Model Animal Ordinance” passed in 2007.

Section 10-29 Restraint requirements authorize animal control to not only issue citations but impound any threatening or dangerous dogs.

The current animal ordinance provides adequate regulations that protect our community against dogs who are allowed to roam as strays and who subsequently have incidents or engage in aggressive or hostile behavior.

This ordinance includes provisions that protect citizens against dangerous dogs regardless of breed. The law simply needs to be enforced. If animal control would put as much focus in enforcing our leash laws as they do patrolling for barking dogs and wandering cats we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Animal Control has a clear responsibility to pick up and remove dogs that are in violation of the nuisance ordinance, especially if those dogs present any type of danger to the community. Passing new regulations primarily directed at responsible pet owners who follow the law will only divert enforcement away from problem owners.

It is also important to point out that the “Model Animal Ordinance” also includes specific requirements for dogs deemed vicious or dangerous “based on prior acts” of that specific dog. Classifying ALL pit bulls as vicious or dangerous would require owners to comply with the same requirements as truly aggressive dogs despite any pre-existing behavior warranting those requirements.

Depriving Pet Owners of Constitutional and Due Process rights

Responsible dog owners with well behaved pit bulls or dogs who appear to be pit bulls would not be allowed to take their dogs on walks in public or even allow them to run supervised in their own yards unless the dogs were muzzled.

The mere act of registering a non-aggressive pit to a dangerous or vicious dog registry would be an admission that the dog was potentially dangerous even though the owner has never experienced such behavior.

This “guilty by breed association” places the owner in a tenable position of defending the dog against false allegations simply because the dog is a pit or assumed to be a pit. This was the same problem presented with the county’s infamous but now repealed dog barking ordinance which classified breeds such as beagles as “barkers” or as the county solicitor who wrote the law pointed out “beagles bark – you own beagles – your guilty of owning barking dogs”.

There are serious constitutional issues with passing a broad based registry that includes a vast majority of dogs who have never posed any threat or risk to the community. Anyone who owns a pit and registers that pit as “potentially vicious or dangerous” agrees to allow “any enforcement officer of the department of police services shall have the authority to enter into private or public property for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the provisions of this subsection (d).

What this means is any policing agency would be authorized to enter a pet owners home – your home – on the assumption that you might be harboring one of these banned vicious dogs, even IF you have never actually violated the law.

Dangerous Dog Law or a License to Kill Pit Bulls?

The neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Watching the clock run out, while time is standing still
He’s the neighborhood bully the world wants to kill

Under the law being proposed citizens would be prevented from offering compassionate aid to any dog abandoned in the neighborhood if it resembled a pit bull. Thse dogs would be demonized in the same manner as a wild bear or panther – they would be hunted down and killed.

Compassionate citizens who attempted to offer comfort or shelter to any stray resembling a pit bull would be in violation of the ordinance as well. We would no longer have the discretion of “rescuing” any dog but instead be required to notify animal control even if we understood that would result in the dog being slaughtered. The law provides but another series of obstacles that prevent citizens from being “good Samaritans, even when the dog presents a friendly disposition.

Under the new law citizens have to “hide” any outlawed dogs to rescue them from our own government hell bent on labeling them as canine criminals with a needle full of blue juice being their destiny. Is that REALLY how we want to utilize our police budget and combat neighborhood crime?

Pet owners should not have to surrender the rights granted under the constitution (which includes a reasonable pursuit of happiness) simply as a condition for owning any breed of dog.

We HAVE laws that address all dogs, all breeds that simply need to be enforced by a competent animal control department. Once again We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett question the leadership in animal control lacks the specific guidance to implement it’s own mission of keeping our community safe by enforcing the laws already in place. Changing the ordinances without addressing the leadership vacuum is not a solution that will work.

Pit bulls entering our shelter system already face tremendous odds simply surviving – passing a new law would only exacerbate that problem.

Excluding dogs based on breed could wrongfully implicate some dogs and ignore others that might be more prone to attack. There are some dogs are therapy dogs and some who are simply great dogs who make great family pets and some dogs who are unsocialized no matter what breed they are.

Rather then worry about a specific breed of dog shouldn’t we focus on the people who are choosing them?