South Bend, Indiana had a breed ban, but no more.
With all the local news regarding whether dogs, cats or rabbits should be sold at pet stores, this exciting piece of news has gotten lost. But it should not be.
On May 28, 2014, the South Bend Council voted unanimously, amending the existing animal control ordinance in its entirety arguably strengthening their animal control act while simultaneously eliminating the breed ban.
Among other things, the new law:
-- Places an increased emphasis on spaying and neutering;
-- Replaces breed-specific language with behavior-specific language;
-- Provides for greater regulation and oversight of dog breeders;
-- Provides for the practice of trap-neuter-return as a way of controlling the feral cat population;
-- Strengthens enforcement and more severely punishes repeat offenders;
-- Requires that pets caught running at-large more than once be spayed or neutered; and
-- Abolishes pet limits and reduces licensing fees for people whose pets are altered and vaccinated.
A special Animal Care and Control Committee headed by council member Valerie Schey, D-District 3,
worked on the new law for more than a year, During that time, the committee met 14 times and organized various outreach and public education efforts.
The new law is intended to improve the quality of life for both animals and residents and reduce the euthanasia rate at the city's animal control facility, which was reportedly over 60 percent in 2012.
While the bill passed unanimously, some felt breed restrictions were still a good idea. "All I ask as a compromise is that we have a muzzle and fence law for pit bulls," Fred Ferlic, D-District 4, said, noting bites from such dogs send about 6,000 people to the hospital each year.
That suggestion drew boos and jeers from the audience and a quick response from Schey. "There are many, many causes for aggression," Schey said, such as fear or an innate impulse on the part of a dog to protect food or territory, "and I would argue that breed is not one of them."
Of course, she's right. Besides dogs identified as so-called pit bulls are generally mixed breeds anyway. How can you single out pit bulls if you are unsure of what they are?
"We feel strongly our dogs should be treated equally and have a fair shot at life," said Gabrielle Thompson, founder of Pit Bulls South Bend.
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