Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Arkansas Pit Bull Bans

Pit BullFour pet owners in various Arkansas cities have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the pit bull bans in Beebe, Jacksonville, Lonoke and North Little Rock.

The dog owners are challenging the bans saying that they are “unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.” The suit states that the bans create undue burdens on dog owners to prove a dog’s breed, while it is “scientifically impossible to determine the breed of a mixed-breed dog or its origin.”

The suit also alleges that the ordinances discriminate against certain individuals without a rational government test, and interfere with due-process rights by allowing property to be seized without notice, a pre-seizure hearing or just compensation.

Roger Schnyer, founder and director of a nonprofit animal welfare group, Responsible Owners of Arkansas Dogs, said that many cities pass breed specific bans because of misinformation and do not have proper legal consultation when enacting legislation. Schnyer’s group is one of the plaintiffs in the case, and he stated that he would appeal all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court if the lawsuit fails and said, “We’re in it for the long run.”

City officials said the bans are legal and that they went through great lengths to make sure due process was met.

Schnyer added, “This lawsuit is not a dog lawsuit. This is a constitutional-issues lawsuit.”

Source: Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Photo: Pit Bulls on the web

13 Responses to “Federal Lawsuit Filed Over Arkansas Pit Bull Bans”

  1. Tanya says:

    I don’t really know how I feel about breed bans — (i just wish we could ban those who abuse the dogs by not training them well).

    However, i know exactly how I feel about poorly written laws, laws that allow **untrained** *non-expert** officers to remove property (especially living property that can be mentally, and physically damaged by removal) without court order or “right of facing full evidence”, nor laws that would demand i know the *history* of a largly mixed breed animal.

    I respect that if a city makes a ban on an animal, it has that right under the democratic process, i suppose. but it should be a law that requires 1) appearnce in court with documentation BEFORE the state can take the animal, 2) language that lets owners know exactly how far back a “mixed breed” is considered to be banned (ie., one generation? two generations?), and 3) a strongly challenged and tested law, to prevent neighbors from simply “whining” (and often lying) about the animal in question.

  2. EmilyS says:

    The courts are all over the place on this. The Ohio district court overturned Toledo’s pit bull restrictions because of the very arbitrariness Tanya points out. But then the Ohio Supreme Court reversed their decision, saying (essentially) localities could write stupid laws if they wanted to.

  3. Dianne says:

    Breed bans are a bad idea. Even if it is effective, take the analogy of outlawing an assault rifle. The manufacturers just change the rifle to fit the law. Breed bans are also a bad idea because who has the burden of proof? The ASPCA wants to ban wolf hybrids, but there is no way to proove a wolf hybrid. Dogs and wolves have the same DNA. This is really about owner responsibility, and unfortunately that cannot be legislated.

  4. Don Earl says:

    RE: “This is really about owner responsibility, and unfortunately that cannot be legislated.”

    Responsibility can be legislated. If you get right down to it, that is the sole purpose of all legislation, to answer the question: What is the responsibility in this situation?

    4 million Americans are bitten by dogs each and every year. The real issue is legislators don’t have the guts to address the problem directly with criminal penalties against pet owners in dog bite situations. The sad part is I appreciate how hard a call that would be to make and that it would be a political nightmare for the first test case. What happens when grandma goes to jail for 30 days because her dog accidently got out of the yard and bit someone?

    The people being bit deserve some measure of protection under the law, but our society typically takes a dim view of punishing people where criminal intent is lacking. Grandma didn’t mean to harm anyone and quite possibly had no idea her dog was dangerous to others. At the same time, if Grandma is fully aware she could end up in jail for not making sure no one is harmed by her pet, Grandma is likely to accept the higher level of responsibility that goes along with taking steps to stay out jail.

    So, what if a person is in the process of making a decision to acquire one of the so called dangerous breeds and they are fully aware they could end up in jail if the pet hurts someone? Chances are they will take a harder look at their ability care for such a pet before making the call. Is the yard fenced? Is someone on hand most of the time to provide adequate supervision? Are they familiar with the characteristics and training requirements of the breed? Is the neighborhood suitable to such a pet; for example rural vs. next to a school yard? Etc.

    Responsibility can be legislated, but it requires providing a distinct downside to punish a lack of responsibility. At that point if someone says they don’t want to go to jail if their pet hurts someone, society is in a position to tell that person they won’t go to jail if they accept responsibility to keep the public safe from their pets.

  5. Robert Davis says:

    Glad to hear this lawsuit is being filed…. here is a good article from a Harvard Study that brings the point home that these “feel-good” laws do nothing to address the real issues.

    FROM FIREARMS TO FIDO
    “Feel Good” Laws Make Things Worse

    Landmark Harvard Study Confirms:
    Over-Regulating Law-Abiding Citizens
    Aggravates Social Problems, Creates More Scofflaws

    http://www.naiaonline.org/libr.....o_Fido.htm

    http://www.law.harvard.edu/stu.....online.pdf

    Patti Strand stated, “”Too often, well-meaning American lawmakers looking for answers to animal control problems have fallen prey to attractive quick-fix solutions and feel-good laws offered by activist groups. Many such groups have considerable media savvy, and do a good job focusing media attention on their view of the issue, but they seldom have any effect on the problems they claim to address. Worse, these groups often pit lawmakers against their own constituents, painting pet owners and breeders as the problem or even the enemy – thus discouraging the sort of dialog between regulators and stakeholders that is so necessary for drafting effective laws. This process not only exacerbates the original problem, but frequently adds entirely new and unnecessary problems to the mix.”

    Further, “Their Harvard study said: “Banning guns to felons, violent misdemeanants, juveniles and the insane (which our laws already do) is a good idea in general, though such laws are very difficult to enforce. Disarming those who only want to defend themselves, however, is a surefire road to empowering criminals at the expense of the innocent.” The result in many cases increases the crime rate rather than decreasing it, simply because, for the criminals, disarming the population increases opportunity and decreases risk.”

    Kind Regards

    Robert Davis
    www.nodogban.com

  6. Dee says:

    There is no such thing as a bad dog, only BAD OWNERS!!! Bad owners should be banned.

  7. Rebecca says:

    These breed specific laws are so bogus. What is to say that someones beagle gets out and bites someone. Are they going to ban those breed dogs then?

    Pit Bulls are beautiful, loving, family dogs. The only reason that they would pose a danger or threat is if the OWNER is irresponsible and breeds it for fighting or any other purpose.

    It isn’t the animals fault that it is in the care of the owner. I hope that we can get our legislature to realize that it is the owners not the breed that deserve the punishment!

  8. Katie says:

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned it yet, but it’s NOT ’scientifically impossible’ to discover a mixed breed’s origins. It’s called the Wisdom Panel and recognizes over 130 AKC recognized breeds.
    http://www.wisdompanel.com/

    But for what its worth, it’s still stupid to ban them. :P

  9. RODNEY C says:

    I’M GLAD SOMEONE IS DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THESE BREED SPECIFIC LAWS!!! I FIND IT REAL DISTURBING THAT WE VOTE IGNORANCE
    INTO OFFICE. I WOULD JUST LIKE TO KNOW IF WE CAN ALL JUMP ON THE WAGON IN THIS LAWSUIT AND NOT FOR MONETARY PURPOSES,
    BUT FOR THE RIGHT TO KEEP OUR DOGS. I HAVE BEEN RAISING AND BREEDING APBT FOR OVER 15 YEARS. I HAVE NEVER HAD A SINGLE PROBLEM FROM ANY OF MY DOGS. MY CHILDREN ARE AROUND THEM, FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS AND THEIR KIDS. AND I NONE HAVE EVER BEEN BITTEN BY ONE OF MY DOGS. APBT WERE BREED TO BE SUBMISIVE TO MAN AND UNLESS TRAINED OTHERWISE, THEY ARE. EVEN WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER AND WATCHED THEM FIGHT, THEY WERE STILL SUBMISIVE. ANYWAY, THE APBT IS AN EXCELLENT ALL AROUND DOG. THEY EXCEL
    IN EVERYTHING THEY DO FROM HUNTING TO WEIGHT PULLING (WHAT I BREED MY DOGS FOR) I REFUSE TO SPAY OR NEUTER MY BLOODLINE BECAUSE SOME HIPPOCRIT DECIDES IT IS BEST FOR SOCIETY. WHY NOT BAN THE LAB OR SPANIELS, OR EVEN COLLIES AS THEY BITE MORE PEOPLE THAN ACTUAL APBT.
    AND I WOULD BE WILLING TO BET A MONTHS PAY, THOSE SAME DUMB OFFICALS COULD NOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN APBT AND ABOUT 30 OTHER BREEDS THAT RESEMBLE AN APBT.

  10. leeandra says:

    I THINK THAT THE LAWS NEED TO STOP TAKING IT OUT ON THE BREED OR PITBULLS. PEOPLE NEED TO JUST STEP UP AND TAKE RESPONIBILTY FOR THERE ANIMALS AND STOP BLAMING JUST PITBULLS THEY ARE NOT WHAT PEOPLE MAKE THEM OUT TO BE, AND IF PEOPLE ARE THIS HARD ON PITBULLS MAYBE THEY NEED TO STOP AND CONSIDER THE OTHER DOG BREEDS THAT ARE ON THE MOST VISCIOUS LIST LIKE DALMATION’S,AKITA’S,BULL MASSIVE’S,ROTWEILER’S,BLUE AND RED HEELER’S,CHOW’S BUT YOU NEVER HERE OR SEE ABOUT BAN’S REGARDING THOSE BREEDS I FELL AS A PROUD PITBULL OWNER THAT THERE TEMPERMANT IS DETERMINED BY HOW THEY ARE RAISED AND TREATED. PITBULL’S ARE WHAT THEIR OWNERS MAKE THEM THEY ARE NOT VISCIOUS DOG’S UNLESS THERE ARE MISTREATED OR BEATEN OR IF THEY ARE TRAINED TO BE VISCIOUS. THEY ARE ACTUALLY GREAT FAMILY DOGS AND VERY GOOD WITH CHILDERN I HAVE NEVER EVER HAD ANY OF MY PIT’S BITE ANYONE OR TRY TO. BUT IF YOU LOOK AT A MOST VISCIOUS DOG LIST PITBULL’S BARLEY MAKE THE TOP TEN SO YOU TELL ME WHO IS DISCRIMINATEING WHO IT LOOKS TO ME AS THE LAW AND OTHER PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MISINFORMED ON WHAT THEASE DOG’S ARE REALLY ABOUT IF THEY WERE SO BAD WHY ARE THEY USED AS LAW INFORCEMENT DOGS AND MILATARY DOG’S SO I BELIVE AND THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE LOOK VISCIOUS EVERYONE BELIVES THAT THEY ARE AND THAT IS NOT THE CASE. ANY DOG CAN BE VISCIOUS IF TRAINED TO BE OR IS MISTREATED, AND WHY AREN’T THE OTHER DOG’S ON THE VISCIOUS LIST BANNED? A NOTHER THING HOW COME THEY TAKE OUT ON ALL PITBULL’S FOR SOMETHING THAT ONE DID IT IS NOT THERE FAULT WHAT THE OTHER PIT DID. WHAT I MEAN IS WHEN IT COMES TO HUMANS AND ONE HUMAN COMMITTS A CRIME DO THEY TAKE IT OUT ON ALL HUMANS, NO THEY PUNISH THE ONE COMMITTING THE CRIME SO WHY DO THIS TO POOR INICENT PITBULL’S WHO HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG.ITS ONE ANIMAL NOT THE HOLE BREED. IT IS UNFAIR TO BLAIM A HOLE GROUP FOR ONE OTHERS MISTAKE SO THEY SHOULD REALLY THINK AND TAKE IT INTO CONSIDERATION ON WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO THEASE POOR ANIMALS THAT HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG EXCEPT BE BORN IN A HATED BREED. THANK FOR YOUR TIME AND I HOPE THIS HELPS FREE PITBULL’S

  11. scott snyder says:

    i agree it should be the owner that is punished its not the dogs fault the owner dont know how to raise them i have had 2 pittbulls and i have had both of them taken away becuase some of the people here complained i had them and both dogs would have never hurt a fly when they was being taken away from me both dogs whinned and had tears comin from there eyes it was totally uncalled for and even the people takin the dogs said that these dogs are harmless but they still had to do there jobs so i totally stand behind those that are tryin to get people to relize that its the owner not the dog that is to be responsible

  12. Chris Wright says:

    Iam A pittbull breeder,I luv my dogs.And I dont believe anyone has the right to endanger A species

  13. garah braden says:

    i am a owner of a pittbull. she is one year old and has never bit anyone. she will only simply lick you to death. pittbulls are great dogs and they only act violent if trained that way. u should simply not blame the dog but only the owner. i love my pittbull and i dont think anyone should endanger a species like that.


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