THE HYDRANT: YOUR OPINIONS


BREED DISCRIMINATORY LEGISLATION PUNISHES ALL INVOLVED

Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals is a grass-roots, not-for-profit, bi-partisan, companion animal advocacy group.  For our purposes we classify dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and other small pets as companion animals. We do not accept donations of any kind and our work is self-funded.

To be effective we have focused our efforts on the following seven areas of animal welfare. One of our major focuses is Breed Discriminatory Legislation (often called BDL, BSL or Breed Specific Legislation).

If you are an animal lover and a Facebook user, you probably see a lot of posts about the unfair treatment some dogs and their owners receive because of breed discrimination. Notable cases include:

  • A dog named Lennox in Belfast, Ireland who was condemned and put to death simply because of his appearance. His death sparked outrage around the world.
  • Mark Buehrle, pitcher for the Miami New Marlins baseball team, relocated to Broward County, Florida rather than Miami-Dade County when he signed a 4 year contract, because his family dog, an American Staffordshire Terrier would be banned in Miami-Dade County.
  • Vietnam vet and retired and disabled police officer, Jim Saks, is prevented from keeping his service dog when he relocates to Sioux City, Iowa.  A judge later overturned the decision and ordered the dog returned to Saks.

Although all three of these stories garnered a lot of media attention, many more cases of breed discrimination happen frequently without fanfare or media attention, right here in southeastern Wisconsin.

The following municipalities currently have BDL in place:

  • City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County: Dogs that are one half or more American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, American Pitbull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier and Rottweilers must comply with specific fence and kennel requirements and leash and training requirements. Mandatory attendance at a behavior class is required.
  • City of St. Francis, Milwaukee County: Dogs described as “pit bulls” that were not grandfathered in before the year 2001 are banned from the city.
  • City of Cudahy, Milwaukee County: Dogs that have the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of dogs known as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier or the American Pit Bull Terrier are automatically presumed dangerous and owners must comply with regulations for dangerous animals.
  • City of South Milwaukee, Milwaukee County:  No person shall harbor, keep or maintain within the City limits of the City of South Milwaukee any Pit Bull which was not currently registered and licensed by the City of South Milwaukee on or before April 1, 1989.
  • Village of Oconomowoc, Waukesha County: Dogs that have the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds known as Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or American Pit Bull Terrier are automatically presumed vicious and must comply with the regulations for vicious dogs.

At Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals we oppose Breed Discriminatory Legislation (BDL) which arbitrarily targets particular breeds. These laws unfairly discriminate against responsible dog owners based solely on their choice of breed.

Breed discriminatory laws are not only ineffective at improving community safety, they are expensive, difficult to enforce and deplete needed resources from animal control.

We urge all state and local legislative bodies to adopt comprehensive breed-neutral dangerous dog/reckless owner laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs and to repeal any breed discriminatory or breed specific provisions.

Since 2010 we have helped reject, repeal or lessen breed discrimination in the following 13 Wisconsin communities: Sheboygan, Cornell, Waukesha, Fond du Lac, Bloomer, Chippewa Falls, Watertown, Waunakee, Waterloo, Madison, Muscoda, Cambridge, Wausau and Platteville.

We would love to see the above-mentioned municipalities join our list of successes.

How can you help? If you live Milwaukee, St. Francis, Cudahy, South Milwaukee or Oconomowoc, please contact your elected officials and ask them to sponsor a repeal of the ordinance and replace it with a more effective dangerous dog ordinance.

We all want to live in safe communities.  Breed discriminatory legislation punishes responsible owners and their dogs and does not make our communities safe.  Effective policies put the focus on the dog owners, not the dogs. We must hold ALL owners equally accountable for their actions and reckless behavior - no matter what their dogs look like.

Story Courtesy of Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals


Response From Reader On Wisconsin Wolf Front piece:

This was a very sad situation with two dogs being killed by a coyote hunter who obviously did not follow one of the basic hunter safety rules of "be sure of your target and what is beyond."

The article has some misinformation when it says that dogs must be leashed from 4/15 through 7/31 in most Wisconsin State Parks. I think the writer is confusing regulations related to dog training and leashing regulations on state properties; these date restrictions protect nesting birds.

Most state parks require that dogs be leashed and under control of the owner year-round at all times. Dogs may be unleashed, but still under control of the owner, in designated areas.

Many people opposed the expansion of hunting in state parks year round when a bill came up in the Wisconsin legislature in 2011. There was much testimony from Friends of State Parks and other groups. However, enough people wanted more access to public lands for hunting, so the compromise law that was passed allowed hunting from November 15 to December 15, and from April 1 to the Tuesday nearest May 3.

Use areas, such as camping areas and nature trails and buildings, are designated as no hunting areas. Hunting area maps for DNR properties are available online or at the property itself. More info can be found on www.dnr.wi.gov.

Sincerely,
FETCH Reader