Prevent Breed Specific Laws in Garfield, NJ

Help us prevent breed specific legislation from being passed in Garfield, NJ, by signing this petition and forwarding this information to friends.  Please move quickly, as the ordinance is set to pass May 11, 2010, at the 8pm City Council meeting in Garfield, NJ.  Please try your best to attend and respectfully, politely voice your opinion.  Please forward this information, especially to dog advocates, trainers, and veterinarians in or near Garfield, NJ.  Thank you for your signature.  Visit for information specific to Garfield's proposed ordinance. 

         We, the undersigned, are writing to you about the recently proposed ordinance that would place unfair financial burdens and unjust restraints upon responsible dog owners and their family pets.  Passage of this breed specific ordinance will not address the root cause of the problem, and it will only have a negative impact on responsible, law abiding dog owners, while those who do not abide by the law will simply continue to do so.  We are strongly opposed to this ordinance, and we ask that you vote against it. 

            Breed specific legislation is difficult and costly to enforce.  Proving that a particular dog falls within the ordinance usually requires expert testimony. Application of breed specific ordinances to mixed breed dogs presents both legal and practical difficulties. Whether even an expert can adequately identify a mixed breed dog is itself subject to controversy. Breed specific regulation is very controversial and difficult to administer. It requires training of enforcement personnel in the identification of those breeds and in distinguishing those breeds from others.

            It is incorrect to assume that revenue from extra licensing fees would cover the cost of upholding breed specific regulations.  The following would present a financial strain on the city of Garfield.

1.  Cost of additional animal control offers to enforce the ban or restrictions. 

2.  Kenneling

3.  Veterinary care and/or euthanasia of confiscated animals

4.   Legal fees, court costs, etc., associated with responsible owners' lawsuits against ineffective and unconstitutional laws  *More and more responsible dog owners are legally challenging breed bans.

5.   Utilities, manpower, and overtime costs associated with maintaining the bans and restrictions

            Breed specific legislation does not hold irresponsible owners accountable.  Councilwoman Tana Raymond stated to Community News Reporter Erin Patricia Griffith, "Citizens have the right to walk the streets freely without being concerned."  With all due respect to Councilwoman Raymond, it is incorrect to think that Breed Specific Laws will do anything more than cause outrage amongst responsible dog-loving citizens and cost the district money to enact and enforce.  One would hopefully assume that a responsible dog owner would not stand for the additional costs and muzzle requirements and take the district to court if such a preposterous law based on fear and ignorance rather than logic and facts were to pass in a town that we all thought was more civilized and evolved than that.  The people who break the law and go unpunished will continue to act irresponsibly since they are not being held accountable for their actions.  They will simply move on to other breeds, which they will also own irresponsibly, and incidents involving dog bites and irresponsible owners will continue.  The injuries will be the same, the suffering will be the same, and the safety concerns of the citizens will be the same.  The only thing that will change is the breed.  Dog bites can be prevented.  Breed specific laws are ineffective and are not the way to keep Garfield safe.  The false sense of security will quickly wear off when the citizens realize that it is the negligent owners who need to be punished, not an entire breed of dog and the responsible, law-abiding, tax paying citizens who own one.


            Breed specific legislation perpetuates negative stereotypes fueled by ignorance, fear, and media hype.  Not only will breed specific legislation be the death of hundreds (and over time, thousands) of "pit bull type dogs" who end up in shelters, it will also be a death sentence for countless other dogs.  If the shelters and rescues are filled to capacity with "pit bull type dogs" that people no longer adopt for fear of being targeted by unfair breed specific laws, there will be very little room for other dogs in the shelters or rescue programs.  Most are already at capacity, which is a heartbreaking situation in and of itself.  Imagine the burden that will be placed upon the already overburdened backs of rescues and shelter workers if none of the "pit bull type dogs" that come in ever make it out.

If this ban passes and spreads to neighboring communities, it is reasonable to assume that thousands of dogs will be abandoned as owners seek a way out of the problem.

            Reputable organizations denounce breed specific legislation as an effective way to prevent dog related injuries.  A partial list follows:

American Animal Hospital Association
American Dog Owner's Association

American Humane
American Kennel Club
American Temperament Test Society
American Veterinary Medical Association
Association of Pet Dog Trainers
California Veterinary Medical Association
Canadian Kennel Club

Cesar Millan, Renowned Dog Behavior Expert and Professional Trainer
Chicago Veterinary Medical Association
Colorado Veterinary Medical Association
Humane Associations of Georgia, Wisconsin, Ottawa, Idaho
Humane Society of the United States
International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants
Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association
Maryland Veterinary Medical Association
National Animal Control Association
National Animal Interest Alliance
National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors
New York State Veterinary Medical Association
Texas Veterinary Medical Association

            Breed specific legislation is ineffective, and there are more logical solutions.  Instead of giving the members of your community a false sense of security, we urge the Mayor and Council of Garfield, NJ, to enact and enforce leash and vaccination laws, prohibit criminals with violent offenses from owning animals, prosecute backyard breeders to the fullest extent of the law, and investigate and prosecute animal cruelty and neglect charges to the fullest extent of the law, thereby prohibiting any animal of any breed from falling into or remaining in the wrong hands.  Enact non breed specific laws that place the burden of responsibility on the OWNERS.  What kind of an example are we setting if we remove owner accountability from the equation?  We are teaching future generations nothing more than to base their actions on fear, ignorance, and media hype and completely ignore facts.  By allowing BSL, we are teaching that stereotyping is right and personal accountability is a thing of the past. 

            We ask that you oppose this proposal because any such law that is specific to breed does not address the real problem, which is that of irresponsible dog owners.  We thank you for taking the time to hear our concerns.  We hope that you will reconsider passing any breed specific ordinances.  Breed specific laws have been rejected nationwide as a direct result of public dissent.  We know that the Mayor and Council of Garfield, NJ have the community's best interest at heart, although we fear that with breed specific legislation, you are pursuing that interest in an ineffective way. 


Concerned Citizens of Garfield, NJ and Surrounding Areas and Responsible Dog Owners/Advocates Nationwide

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