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Louisiana Info: City of Westwego Expected to Consider Ownership/Breeding Limits, Breed-Specific Restrictions in July

(Thursday, May 23, 2013)

As we previously reported, the City of Westwego is considering changes to its animal ordinances. The changes include individual ownership and breeding limits and new, stricter serious breed-specific restrictions. On principle, the American Kennel Club (AKC) opposes ownership and breeding limits and breed-specific legislation. The Westwego City Council is not expected to take action before its July 8, 2013, meeting, which will occur soon after new councilmembers take office. However it is important that all concerned area residents begin familiarizing themselves with the provisions of the proposal in preparation for outreach to the new city council once it takes office on July 1, 2013.

What the proposal will do: A current proposal would:

  • Limit individuals from owning no more than three dogs four months of age or older (this limit would not apply to those with a valid kennel permit), and provide that only one litter may be kept on the premises. It is unclear whether the litter limitation would have a time component—i.e., whether only one litter may be kept on the premises at a time, in a year, etc.
  • Define “pit bull” as “any dog that is an American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier” or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits or genetic markers of any one or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.”
  • Ban the ownership of “pit bulls” by Westwego residents unless owners acquire a pit bull permit. At time of applying for the pit bull permit, owners must show that the dog is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations, pay the license fee (to be determined by the Council), and provide proof of homeowner’s/renters insurance of at least $100,000, that the dog has been spayed or neutered, and that the dog has been microchipped.
  • Require all permitted “pit bulls” to be kept in secure structures and muzzled when out of their pen or enclosure. Owners must maintain proper warning signs providing notice that a “pit bull” is maintained on the premises, and are prohibited from transferring ownership of the dog to any other Westwego resident other than immediate family members.
  • Require all show giving clubs to receive written permission from the City Manager to allow “pit bulls” to be exhibited at the event, and require owners to keep dogs in a secure enclosure with proper warning signs while at the event.

AKC’s Position on Ownership/Breeding Limits: The AKC believes that restricting Americans' liberties by imposing numerical ownership limits does not address issues of responsible dog ownership and proper dog care. Instead, the AKC supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of all dogs without restricting the rights of owners or breeders who take their responsibilities seriously.

AKC's Position on Breed-Specific Legislation: The American Kennel Club supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to govern the ownership of dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as "dangerous" based on stated, measureable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous. The American Kennel Club strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be "dangerous" based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs.

On principle, an extensive number of groups join the AKC in opposition to breed-specific legislation, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Bar Association.

Click here to read Why Breed-Specific Legislation Doesn’t Work

What you can do: Westwego residents should begin preparing for outreach to the new council once it takes office on July 1, 2013. All concerned residents who haven’t already done so are also strongly encouraged to contact the current members of the Westwego City Council and respectfully express opposition to breed-specific legislation. Click here to see AKC’s April 12 Alert on how to contact the current Council members.

AKC’s Government Relations Department (AKC GR) will continue to provide updates on this Limit and BSL proposal as information becomes available. For more information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org.

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