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Lancaster weighs breed-specific legislation for pit bulls and Rottweilers

Pitbull In an effort to crack down on gangs, Lancaster is considering a plan that would also crack down on dogs -- specifically, pit bulls and Rottweilers.

A proposed ordinance, to be voted on tomorrow, would impose harsh penalties on the owners of dogs labeled "potentially dangerous" or "vicious."  It would also require that Rottweilers, pit bulls and mixed-breeds with the physical characteristics of either breed be spayed or neutered.  Our colleague Ann M. Simmons explains the Lancaster mayor's position:

"I want gangs out of Lancaster," Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a recent interview. "I want to make it uncomfortable for them to be here. Anything they like, I want to take it away from them. I want to deliberately harass them....

"It's really like [gangs] having a weapon that they are allowed to display and intimidate people," Parris said. "If they have a pit bull, they may as well put a sign on their head saying, 'Come get me.' "

But Simmons found that many Lancaster residents are opposed to legislation singling out these much-maligned breeds and spoke out against it at a recent council meeting:

"There is no scientific proof that genetics cause a breed of dog to be aggressive, vicious or dangerous," dog trainer Carole Kelly told council members. "Irresponsible owners are to blame for the behavior of dogs. Breed-specific legislation is an injustice." ...

"What happens when these gang members that you're trying to target move on to Dobermans or German shepherds? You going to restrict them too?" [A.J. Listman, a trainer and dog show competitor] asked the council.

Puppies under 4 months of age and dogs considered high-risk for problems during surgery would be exempt from the spay-neuter ordinance.  While California law allows specific breeds to be targeted for spaying and neutering, a breed as a whole can't be officially labeled "vicious."

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (27)

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I know pit bulls. Many pit bulls. I know responsible pit bull owners, as well. I've seen pit bulls in shelters - public AND private shelters.

They are NOT bad dogs by nature. There is, or already should be, a mandatory spay and neuter law. At this point only select breeds are being singled out. By what? Reputation.

Gangs obviously don't care about the law. That's why they exist. They don't care. They still hold dog fights. They still constantly breed their pets.

We should stop concentrating on JUST the animal, but the owner himself. Trying to flush the dog is NOT going to flush the SOURCE of the problem: The irresponsible OWNER.

HELLLOO Mr Parriss did someone not tell you that you have a police force to arrest gangsters and criminals,and that is why the constituents voted you in,to address Crime.
If these gangsters enjoyed Mçdonalds Hamburgers would
you close all that Mçdonalds franchises.
I have never heard anything so Stupid.
By the way one should make the good Mayor aware that
the USA has just changed the 43rd best President for the
new no.1 President to be and somehow I do not beleive
he will be impressed with these reckless tactics.
Without President Obama's intervention BSL is collapsing,
all over USA at the moment,check the latest in Montana.
No Political points to be gained here Mayor Parris.
"All that is needed for EVIL to SUCCEED is that Decent
Human Beings do NOTHING"-Edmund Burke


I lost a persian cat to a pit-bull that broke it's way into my home a few years a go it killed her in a horrible way.....last year a pit-bull broke through a fence into my fathewr's backyard and killed his beagle dog he fought with it for 15 minutes before a neighbor came to his a id and shot that dog. My sisters cat was torn up by a pit-bull as well when will the death toll be enough for all you people who think these dogs make fine pets???? listen they are unpredictable and that is that if you hav'nt had a problem then you have simply been lucky.......

R. Rex is a genius! ""I want to make it uncomfortable for them to be here. Anything they like, I want to take it away from them."

Using his stellar logic, gang bangers like wearing baggy pants & shoes. Therefore outlawing pants & shoes in all of Lancaster will be just the ticket! That will really make it uncomfortable for gang bangers..... Then R. Rex can start on obscenity laws when everyone is walking around butt-nekked and barefoot thanks to the "anti-gang pants & shoes ordinance".

Oh wait, wait!! Yeah, they also drive CARS!! Uh huh, that's it, make it illegal to own cars in Lancaster because a few people who drive them are gang bangers.

Makes as much sense as trying to say certain "breeds" of dogs are no longer allowed. Besides discriminating against the vast majority of dog owners who *are* responsible owners and NOT gang bangers, this makes it totally a judgement call on Animal Control officers, who in many instances couldn't tell a pit-mix from a lab-mix from a boxer-mix.

Obviously R. Rex's legal specialty is not Constitutional Law.

The actual text of the ordinance would be useful.

From the Health and Safety Code:

122331. (a) Cities and counties may enact dog breed-specific ordinances pertaining only to mandatory spay or neuter programs and breeding requirements, provided that no specific dog breed, or mixed dog breed, shall be declared potentially dangerous or vicious under those ordinances.

IOW, to be legal they can only declare specific dogs vicious or problems, not an entire breed. Case-by-case basis only, and there had better be due process!

However, considering that some ACOs can't tell a pit bull from a Pop-Tart, I expect enforcement to be very bad.

"I want to make it uncomfortable for them to be here. Anything they like, I want to take it away from them. I want to deliberately harass them...."

Message to the mayor: you're not a TV cop who works outside the law. You cannot harass your citizens or deliberately drive entire groups of people out of town. How about doing your job and providing the right balance of outreach and effective law enforcement in order to protect your citizens?

:P

Take away pits and they'll get German Sheps. Take away Sheps and they'll start to fight another breed. It really, at the end of the day, isn't about the dog at all. It's about the barbaric behavior that these thugs instill in the dogs. You can teach any dog, any breed, to be scared, mean and angry!

Regardless of whether a specific breed can be considered "vicious", it cannot be denied that some breeds have been intentionally bred for hundreds (if not thousands) of years to have both the mental predilection for aggression and the physical capability to make that aggression dangerous. To deny the historical record is to be willfully naive, at best.

We often hear comments to the effect of: "It's bad owners, not bad dogs." Yet I never hear any reasonable proposals to somehow control bad owners until after their dogs have injured or killed. Mandatory breed specific spay/neutering is a reasonable method to prevent tragedy by limiting the numbers of certain breeds and keeping them out of the hands of criminals.

The mayor is clearly confused..."I want gangs out of Lancaster," Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a recent interview. Well if that is the case why are drugdealers, murderous gang members, & criminals in general not on the mayor's hit list. The criminals must be laughing their lower posteriors off as tax payer money is being spent on rounding up INNOCENT dogs and then cats and then?? What a joke if I lived in Lancaster I would be very embarrassed that Parris is in the mayor's office. Lancaster is indeed fortunate that innocent dogs are the number 1 problem in their city and not unemployment, foreclosures, & homeless people like in many other cities in the state. Thanks, R & R

This infuriates me! ""I want gangs out of Lancaster," Mayor R. Rex Parris said in a recent interview. "I want to make it uncomfortable for them to be here. Anything they like, I want to take it away from them. I want to deliberately harass them...."" although i agree with the incentive to prevent gang relations, how illogical can this mayor be? How can you eliminate one problem by serving an injustice? why should these breeds pay for the fault of those who like them? In fact, it is to their lack of knowldege to whomever would pass this legislation. Pitt bulls are the most tolerant of all dogs, theres no such thing as a bad or dangerous dog, just bad and dangerous circumstances. FOCUS on elimanting the problem-gang violence- not on punishing innocent dogs who were forced into bad circumstances.

I would like to see mandatory sterilization of ALL pet dogs and cats. I love pits and rotties, they are great family dogs but unfortunately gang members seem to be attracted to the "image" of these breeds.

Its funny that it shows how foolish gang members are - pitbulls being one of the kindest dog breeds and rottweilers actually being farm/herding dogs. There are much better dog breeds suited to be security/"attack" dogs.

It is too bad this controversy tarnishes the image of these breeds, but it if deters gangs and also deters animal cruelty (i.e. breeding illegal fighting dogs) then I think its great for human & animal welfare as a whole.

Imposing citywide legislation to fix ALL companion animals would be great for cutting down on how many animals are put in shelters & killed because there aren't enough loving homes.

The ludicrous of this is blatant and saddening.

"We want to cut back on gangs, so we'll ban a type of dog they own."

Sure, let's cut back on colds by banning Kleenex, too!

Then some idiots here say all dogs and cats should be mutilated.

Sorry, but that died in the state Senate last year in a does of sanity by a 27-5 crushing vote.

Breeds do not make bad dogs. PEOPLE make bad dogs.

If gangs are the problem, then go after the gangs, not some dogs they might own.

BTW, Ed Boks, the LA Animal Control chief who would be charged with enforcing this unconstitutional ordinance, had Part II of his no-confidence hearing yesterday--any reporting on that , LA Times?

(Crickets)

Bottom line, this is a politician's disease - they always target the symptom, and not the problem!! The problem is the gangs themselves, their activities, etc... Why don't they come up with some creative ways to target the gangs themselves.

I think it is wrong to specify breeds and levy this new legislation on those specific dog owners. Most of you are right, it is the owner , not the dog. Having said that, what I believe should happen is probably even MORE controversial. I think that it should be mandatory to spay and neuter ALL dogs in California. If someone wants to breed their dog and petition to not spay or neuter their dog should have to pay a very hefty fee to obtain a license to do so but ONLY after a series of mandatory classes are taken. Then maybe their won't be tens of thousands of dogs (in California alone) turned over and euthanized in shelters.

Pit Bulls are strong, both physically and mentally, very loyal, intelligent, and have a strong desire to please their master.
Those traits that we love so much are the same traits that curse them when dog fighters and irresponsible owners exploit those qualities to benefit themselves.
Laws need to be made that will hold THE OWNER responsible for any malicious activities it's dog are involved in, regardless of breed.
It is not fair to punish innocent dog's and their owner's for crimes they have never committed.

Pit Bulls strive to take on the behavior their OWNER instills in them.

Punish bad owners, there are 2 many Pit Bulls in loving homes to punish them all.
That would be sort of like the holocaust to kill millions of innocent dog's based on their breed, not anything they have done.

Spaying and neutering is a requirement for all breeds in california at this point unless you are a legitimate breeder. Regarding whether specific breeds or genetics have any bearing on personality or aggressive traits - absolutely. Anyone who says differently is being ridiculous! Everyone that knows animals knows that breeds are made to create or enhance those traits. There are breeds (several) that are known to be more agressive - usually towards other dogs more than people but many are also more protective of their owners than others. To deny that is to pretend to be naive. Pitbulls should not be euthanized but there should be legislation that requires them to wear muzzles in public. They are known and bred to be aggressive towards other dogs and were bred to fight and for their jaw strength. To not wear a muzzle is absolutely irresponsible on the owners part. I have seen 5 pitbull attacks, one where the other innocent dog died. In EACH of those incidents the owners were shocked and said the dog had never done it before - the dogs were very sweet to people. They are not usually vicious to people but very often towards other dogs and can become aggressive towards dogs at any moment without ever a problem before. A muzzle would save everyone a lot of pain, heartache and misery.

Im 18 and iv had the plesure of owning six pit bulls.Its not the breed of dog that causes so much mayhem its the owner.All of my dogs hav ben well behaved and obedient.Its really about how u rais your pit the first five months are critical.That is the time wen the dog will pick up your intentions and how u want them 2 act.Now i will say this pit bulls are a proud and very protective breed of dog,but as far as tryint 2 remove them from loving caring familys.thats just obscene and harsh.So if u want to get rid of someones pet somthing they love so much just try 2 imagine someone coming into your hame and taking your kids I am n Memphis TN pit bullr are all around me i love them i couldnt imagine life without them. Why dont u just make all pit owners rejister them selves into a data base like you do offenders then it would b alot better than jus trying 2 destroy or remove them

I CAN SEE IT NOW . R REX AS A KID OR YOUNG MAN BARELY STARTING HIS LEGAL CARRER. DETRMINED TO BECOME SUCCESSFULL . HAY MABIE EVEN TO BECOME THE MAYOR OF LANCASTER . ENDS UP SOME HOW PISSING OF THE WRONG PITT BULL AND GETTING BIT . AS A DETERMINED YONG MAN HE SAYS TO HIM SELF "SOME DAY I WILL FIND A WAY TO GET PIT BULLS BAND FROM LANCASTER " THAN DURING HIS TIME AS A LAWYER HE GETS HIS PRECIOUS EAGLE STOLLEN BUY A SO CALLED GANG MEMBER AND VOWES SOME DAY I WILL FIND A WAY TO OUT LAW ALL AND ENY GANG RELATED THINGS . AND NOWS HIS CHANCE NOTHING ELSE JUST PITTBULLS AND GANGS . ISNT THERE MORE TO BEING A MAYOR?

I DONT THINK THAT PEOPLE SOULD PUNISH A DOG JUST BECAUSE OF ITS BREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ONE OF THE BEST DOGS I HAVE EVER HAD WAS A PITTY SHE WAS THE ONE THAT KEEP ME SAFE WHEN I COULDENT GET OUT OF BED WHEN I LOST MY SON....... SHE WAS THEIR FOR ME WHEN MY HUSBAND WAS AT WORK IT WAS LIKE SHE KNEW WHAT HAD HAPPEND....... SHE NEVER LEFT MY SIDE.... SO PLEASE BEFOR YOU LOOK AT A PIT BULL AND THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE TOLD YOU THAT THEY HEARD OF ONE ATTCAKING SOMEONE DOSE NOT MEAN THAT ALL OF THEM ARE MEAN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JUST PLEASE THINK THAT NOT ALL PITS ARE MEAN I WILL LOVE PITS TILL THE DAY I DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HOPE THAT YOU WILL THINK FOR YOURSELF AND NOT LISON TO EVERYONE ELSE...............................

Please use spell check before you posted, Ms. Margaret Boble.

I love dogs, all breeds. I was attacked (as well as my dogs) by pitbulls, twice. I had to go to emergency room to get 36 painful rabies shots. If one wants to have 12 (or more) any 'dangerous dogs' and knows how to be responsible, please do so, and really be responsible. At least simply, walk the dog on the leash and put a muzzle. Before you leave the house with the dog, make sure the dog is well trained.

I have a mixed dog might be pit mix whatever. If you ban one dog , then I want hound dogs banned because of there terrible bark . I dont think this is the answer . How about we enforce the leash law to the max , fine people for no tags and if the dog acks out aggressively or what ever lashes out at another dog.Let the dumb dog OWNER be held responsible for going to "how to be a responible dog owner class "and obedience training for both of them. Community service at the hospital helping bite victims .Or animal shelters working with aggressive dogs that dont like them. SO they know how it feels to be on the other side of a scared animail acting out. I love these dogs , however there is a young kid that has one in my neighborhood . THis pit drags the kid down the sidewalk , it is panting, way over anxious and it will cause some damage soon. I have followed him home and talked with the dad and maybe this will do it. .So far the dog is good .. This is not always the case . So make the law and or problems fall squarely on the owner. ENFORCEMENT if it is a gang issue let DEA or animal control and DEA go into it together .Chances are you can use one to help the other in solving many things . I am sure there is a much better solution than telling people what the can and cannot have. I m not giving up my dog or my guns. I am honest and polite respectful. I cannot sit home scared and hope no bad people ever bother me. It behoves me to be proactive responsible and well armed to protect my family. Of coarse I am most likely the minority and that is o.k. you will not read about me in the obituarys or find me in jail.

I don’t think that it’s right to put a story about gangs and pit bulls together. They are in no way, shape or form connected. Gangs are a real problem in society, and it is important for the police to gain as much of a handle on it as possible. Sure, some gang members have pit bull fights, but outlawing the pit bulls with not ends the fighting. There are several other dogs to pick from. If they are outlawed, people who are having dog fights will use other dogs for fighting. What is this helping? People need to start thinking about what is humane, and what isn’t. Outlawing of pit bulls isn’t right because they are just animals who, in the U.S. are meant to be kept as pets. Sure, there have been occasions when there have been pit bull attacks, but why aren’t we hearing about other dog attacks? I know a few people who have been attacked by Dalmatians, but this isn’t in the news. Just because a dog attacks a human, it doesn’t make it the animals fault. One thing that should have been described in the article is the fact that it is up to the owner to train the dog, and to do their best to make the pet happy. When a pet has a healthy and happy, it is more likely to be tame, and a well behaved pet. If, however, the owner is training the dog to fight, it is more likely to have more aggression than a pet who doesn’t fight. Fighting a dog is like kicking a dog in the face constantly. If an owner always kicks their pet, the pet becomes afraid at first, and then feels like the only choice they have is to protect themselves. In most cases, I see the pit bull attacks as acts of defense, not acts of viciousness.

the dog is pretty but it a boy or girl

I really thinks that We as Human .. has come so far to understand the meaning of LIFE. By banning certain dog Breeds such pitt or rotti... we are going backward in our evolution. ONE LOVE... that apply to animal aswell. Maybe ..in 2012 these dogs will have consious because of the cosmic aligment and and and they will bring Judment on those who banned them... its Revelation... can you imagine?!?

I own a Rottiweiler I am not in a gang, I am a very soft hearted kind person. It is the owners that make a dog aggresive not the breed, I have seen more small dogs bit people than big dogs. My Rotti is sweet, mellow and great with kids - when she was 7 months she got attacked by 2 pitt bulls because the owner did not have them on leases and knew they were not socialized. I did not blame the dogs it was the owners resposibilty. I think we should should quite banning breeds and start making owners responsible with outrages fine and or jail time. These owners are adults and its time they took responsibilty for their pet, and not have the pets pay in the end.


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