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Hang in there anti BSL supportters

March 16th, 2006, 06:10 PM
An 11-2 decision against BSL. Ohio BSL law thrown out. Oregon rejects BSL. Virginia prepared to create viscous dog registry. Georgia to inact laws to protect pit bulls.

The winds of change are turning....against BSL and onto more sensible and much fairer decisions.

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NCCo rejects pit bull restrictions
From mothers of attack victims to veterinary assistants, big crowd had strong
New Castle County Council on Tuesday voted down a controversial proposal that would have restricted pit bulls and put the dogs in the same classification as a vicious animal. The 11-2 vote came after nearly two hours of testimony from more than two dozen residents who gave impassioned speeches for or against changes to the animal control ordinance. The proposal, from Councilman Jea P. Street, would have required owners of specific breeds of pit bulls or pit bull mixes to muzzle their dogs while outside, post warning signs on their property and secure $100,000 in liability insurance.

Street, whose only support came from Councilman Penrose Hollins, vowed to keep working on the issue.
"It's certainly been a learning process for me," said Street, a Democrat. "When all is said and done, we're going to have to continue to agree to disagree."

Street said he will work with other council members to explore ways to deal with problems caused by aggressive dogs. He said he won't be cowed by some dog owners who have threatened to "muzzle him" if he continues to press for legislation, which he considers an urgent public safety issue. "We're going to go on and on with this discussion tonight, but the bottom line is no one is going to humiliate, curse or think they can make me abandon my principles," Street said. The debate drew an unusually high number of residents to speak to council on a single issue, and armed with pictures of their pets, copies of their speeches and news clippings about legislation efforts in other places.

'An emotional issue'
Council members said they have been flooded with phone calls, letters and e-mails from constituents
An ordinance was introduced two weeks ago.
"It's an emotional issue," said Council President Paul Clark, who limited speakers to three minutes
Ive read everything everyone has sent me. I know more about dogs than I ever did."
Council first listened to residents who supported Street's legislation, several of whom were mothers
attacked by pit bulls.
The mothers of Zachary Grant, a 2-year-old boy killed by a pit bull in Edgemoor Gardens in 2002; D
Campbell, a 3-year-old girl seriously injured by a pit bull in January; and Dylan Reichard, who was
2001 while riding his bike; urged council members to do something.
"If your children or grandchildren lived through this, you would support it," said Denise Reichard, w
snapshots documenting her son's injuries. He was 8 when the attack happened and remains afraid
she said.

"When the cops found the dog," Denise Reichard said, "he still had bits of my son in his mouth."
Residents who supported Street's legislation were outnumbered, however. The majority opposed b
legislation, saying, "Punish the deed and not the breed."
Among them were the Delaware Humane Association, the Wilmington Kennel Club and pit bull owner
Jenn Callahan.
A former veterinary technician who has worked with many breeds, she said Delaware needs to re-examine
animal abuse and control laws.
"The irresponsible dog owners are not here, and they will not follow it," she said of the legislation.
Calling themselves Crusaders For the Pit Bull, Kristy and Duane Essick said they've had more than 60 of the dogs in their Townsend home for exhibitions and never had problems. Kristy said the legislation would fo
muzzle her pet even while he romps in the county dog park.
"It's not fair," she said. "I should be able to walk outside with my pit bull and have fun."

Breed-specific laws
Wilmington is the only municipality in the state with breed-specific legislation. The city requires registration and licensing of all pit bulls. Also, owners must be at least 21, and the dogs must be spayed or neutered.

Breed-specific legislation, some of which has banned certain types of dogs, has met with varying degrees of
success in cities and counties nationwide. Some laws have been challenged in court.
Pit bull breeder Robert Barry said he worried that Street's proposal would have a "snowball effect."
"This ordinance scares me," he said. "If it goes through, they'll add another breed and another breed.
While most of council said they didn't agree with breed-specific legislation, they lauded Street for bringing the issue forward. "He stuck to his guns," said Councilman Timothy Sheldon, a Democrat.
Councilman Robert Weiner, who first suggested the coalition to Street, said the men have formed a partnership regardless of the vote and the different socioeconomic backgrounds of their constituents.
Street's district surrounds Wilmington; Weiner's includes Brandywine Hundred.
"After talking with Jea, I began to look at the world a little differently and began to realize that we are the same and care about the same things," Weiner said.