Petition to allow Pit Bulls and Pit Bull Mixes to be allowed to be put up for adoption at the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter sign now

To: The Ouachita Parish Police Jury
To: The Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter
To: The Honorable Mayor Jamie Mayo
To: The Honorable Mayor Dave Norris
Re: Pit Bull Adoption Policy at the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter


We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens of Ouachita Parish and the neighboring parishes of North Louisiana. While recognizing the concerns of Ouachita Parish and the surrounding parish residences, we are extremely alarmed regarding the policy on pit bull adoptions at the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter, which would have a negative impact on responsible, law-abiding potential pit bull adopters. This policy would have an impact on not only Ouachita Parish citizens, but also those from surrounding parishes that choose to visit the Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter to adopt a pit bull or pit bull mix dog. Following are a listing of our specific concerns.

(1) Available data indicates that a dog of ANY breed can bite. Studies published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association conclude that there is NO reliable data identifying biting dogs by breed.
As well, the American Temperament Test Society has available results of dogs tested by them. As of June 12, 2010, the following results were found:

(Number of dogs tested) [Percent of dogs passed]
American Pit Bull Terrier (772) [86\%]
American Staffordshire Terrier (608) [83.9\%]
Collie (846) [79.7\%]
Golden Retriever (746) [84.6\%]
Labrador Retriever (763) [92.3\%]
Shetland Sheepdog (491) [68\%]
Collie (722) [78.8\%]
This can be verified with the A.T.T.S. by calling them at (314)869-6103 or on the web at www.atts.org.

(2) The term pitbull is not a breed nor is it recognized by reputable breed organizations or kennel clubs. Pitbull is a variety of breed that describes American Pit Bull Terriers and mixes, American Staffordshire Terriers and mixes, and Staffordshire Terriers and mixes, and is often mistakenly used to describe other similar breeds (such as bull terriers and American bulldogs). It is very difficult or impossible to tell these breeds apart and, as a result, it is impossible to fairly enforce the newly enacted policies.
(3) Cities that have tried to solve their dangerous dog problem by restricting or banning breeds have discovered that such laws do not work. Recently, Cincinnati, OH has repealed its ban on specific breeds and Baltimore, MD has removed all breed specific references from its ordinance, and PA prohibits any BSL.


(4) There is no reliable method by which to scientifically determine the breed of a dog. It is impossible to determine whether a mixed breed dog is 50\% of any particular breed. To do so would require proof that the dog is NOT 50\% of a targeted breed is an impossible burden. The question of constitutionality comes into play here for potential adopters.

(5) The majority of the owners of targeted breeds are responsible, law-abiding citizens. The proposed policies unfairly brand these dogs as dangerous and unpredictable, solely because they are a targeted breed. Again, there is a question regarding the rights of citizens in regard to personal property. Additionally, we believe that the real problem are the irresponsible owners that are the real source of breed related concern. Almost ANY dog can be re-rehabilitated and trained to be a good dog as long as they are adopted by RESPONSIBLE citizens. Although it is impossible to know what any person would do with an animal that they have adopted from the shelter, to continue to not allow pit bulls or pit-bull mixes the opportunity for adoption is ludicrous. It's completely unfair to stereotype a particular breed for the actions of a few dogs that were owned/handled by IRRESPONSIBLE people. There is always a reason that ANY dog has the potential to bite, but if a dog is owned by a RESPONSIBLE person, the chances of that animal biting someone is dropped to almost 0\%.

We propose that you apply a liability clause to your adoption paperwork concerning any breed you have a concern with, and also mandate that the new owner attend a dog obedience class to learn how to responsibly handle the dog. For instance, Ouachita Valley Dog Training Club offers discounts for rescued dogs for beginner classes. There is also the potential for other dog training clubs or classes to offer the same services for rescued animals if they do not do this currently. This will do two things. It will release the parish, the shelter and anyone else from liability for ANY dog that could cause an issue, and it will put more responsible dog owners on the streets.

(6) It is the consensus of knowledgeable dog experts (as reported in the JAVMA article, "A Community Solution to the Dog Bite Problem") that targeting the owners and the specific dangerous dog, not breeds of dogs, is the key to addressing the dog bite and "dangerous dog" problems.

(7) It takes away a significant amount of funding that the shelter desperately needs to operate from loss of adoption fees, food costs, personnel costs as well as the cost of the lethal injections used to kill these animals.

In summary, the policy is unfair, costly to taxpayers, time consuming, and unnecessary. We urge you to reverse your policy regarding these wonderful, misunderstood and often-mistreated animals. We pray that you please give these dogs a fair chance to go on to a loving family.

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Lorna HodgesBy:
TelecommunicationsIn:
Petition target:
Ouachita Parish Police Jury

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