What Actually Happens When a Pit Bull Ban Goes Into Effect?

What Actually Happens When a Pit Bull Ban Goes Into Effect?

Since the 1990’s breed specific bans targeting pit bulls have been sprouting around the world.  Claiming that the dogs are dangerous and pose a threat to those around them, the legislation band people from having pit bulls as pets in specific areas. Today, 31 states in the United States have some sort of pit bull ban in effect and on a daily basis more municipalities consider a ban of their own.

But what actually happens when these rules go into effect?

Dog bites don’t actually go down

While the idea behind breed specific legislation (BSL) is to reduce dog bites and aggression, there is no proof that the bans lead to a decrease in dog bites overall.

In Toronto, which banned pit bulls in 2005 leading to a near extinction of the breed in the area, dog bites hit the highest levels in the century in 2013 and 2014.

Dog fighting rings don’t go away either just because there’s a ban on pit bulls, which is the type of dog usually chosen to participate in the illegal and heinous act.

“Communities that have instituted such bans often find the irresponsible owners and the criminals who use dogs for illegal purposes simply switch to another breed,” explains the Pit Bull Rescue Central website.

People get separated from their pets

When BSL goes into effect, sometimes people are forced to relinquish their dogs to authorities immediately. Most often, however, there is a clause that allows people who already own a pit to keep them-if they register them within a determined period of time.

In Brownsville, Tenn., for example, when a ban went into effect, people had 60-days to register with the city or they would be taken away. The problem is that not many people people pay attention to local ordinances and how it affects them so dog owners miss their deadline and have to give up their animals.

“”It’s extremely problematic because politics is not a spectator sport,” explains Ledy VanKavage, Senior Legislative Attorney for the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary” “Another problem is that many people is that many people don’t consider their dog a pit bull”.

Shelters are overwhelmed

Being faced with a rule that prohibits them from from keeping their pet, many people try to rehome their dog but according to the Pit Bull Rescue Central, it takes people an average of 6-12 to rehome a pit bull.

That leaves shelters as an often used solution.

“Here are dogs that were in people’s homes and now they are overwhelming shelters,” says VanKavage. ‘So they’re euthanized or other dogs that would go in to the shelter can’t come in because they are full ans so they are euthanized.

In Miami, where it is illegal to own a pit bull in the entire Miami-Dade county, pit bulls that end up in shelters can be adopted to people who live outside the county. but people do no toften go to a shelter in a different county to look for a dog to adopt, so th epit bulls are put to sleep.

People are blocked from adopting

The shelter problem is even worse because, nobody living in a cty with a ban will ever be able to adopt a pit bull again-meaning that the number of potential adopters decreases, while the number of dogs desperate for a home increases.

Dogs who aren’t even pit bulls suffer

To ban pit bull one must first identify a pit bull.  There’s one little problem with that: Pit Bulls aren’t even a breed.  What are commonly known as pit bulls are a group of similar looking dogs including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and English Bull Terriers.

Many other dogs look muscular and have short hair like those breeds, so when an official is charged with investigating whthere a pet should be banned or not, mistakes are commonly made.

‘It’s pretty arbitrary.[the identification process} can be done by the police, who are not trained in breed identification, or an animal control officer, who is not trained either,” says VanKavage. “People call it breed specific legislation but there’s nothing specific about it.  You might as well use a ouija board to determine the breed of a mixed breed dog”.

In fact, a study showed that even shelter workers and people who have been trained in breed identification make a mistake 48% of the time.

Cities lose tons of money

Financially, BSL has also proven to be a huge disaster.  Between the cost of enforcing the ban, kenneling the confiscated pit bulls and caring for them, euthanizing a large portion of them, DNA tests to determine their actual breed and litigation costs when an owner challenges a decision on their dog, a city is left with a giant and unnecessary bill that taxpayers end up paying.

According ti the National Canine Research Council, Prince George’s County in Maryland spends approximately $560,000 every two years enforcing the ban. The estimated associated costs with Denver’s ban in Colorado add up to almost one million dollars per year.

People become misinformed on dog safety

Perhaps the most damaging of all effects of BSL, is that it perpetuates the myth that pit bulls are violent and dangerous.  Other cities that may not have outright bans can have apartment buildings that refuse to accept tenants that have pit bulls as pets and insurance companies that choose not to insure them. The circle of misinformation continues, leading to more unnecessary dog deaths.

Want to stop BSL?  There are a number of petitions opposing the unfair legislation.  Can’t find a BSL petition where you live?  Create your own, and the Care2 community will join you and help make BSL a thing of the past.




Ringling Brothers moves elephants to Florida for retirement, breeding and research.

Dr.Schmitt is the head veterinarian for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily Center for elephant conservation in southern Florida, a 200-acre retirement home and breeding center for the circus’s Asian elephants.  The facility housed 39 elephants as of July, including 11 that gave the circus’s last elephant performances..

Because of the trust and training of the elephants, Dr. Schmitt said, “We’re able to provide the best care for them as well as engage in some research projects occasionally”.

Because Asian elephants are endangered, this has huge implications for species conservation, not only to maintain our herd but also potentially around the world.

When Your Landlord Says Either Your Pet Goes or You Do

When Your Landlord Says Either Your Pet Goes or You Do

People show up at animal shelters and rescue groups in New York City all the time with this problem: they think they have to get rid of their pets or they’ll be evicted.

They’re often wrong.

In New York City there’s a program called Pets for Life NYC that lets people know what their rights are and often helps them keep their pets. Calling Pets for Life (917-468-2938) can point you in the right direction.

Darryl Vernon, a New York attorney who specializes in tenants’ rights to have pets, says, “It’s crucial that people talk to a lawyer very early so they understand their rights.” For starters, there’s a three-month law that protects pet owners who live in buildings with three or more units. According to Vernon, the best thing is for people to know about the three-month rule and their rights under the disability laws. “Both are powerful defenses against any action brought by a landlord or co-op or condominium to make someone get rid of their dog or move out of their home,” he says.

According to Companion Animals in NYC Apartments – 2009 Edition, a brochure published by the NYC Bar Association Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals, “once a companion animal lives in a multiple dwelling (a building with three or more residential units) for three or more months, openly and notoriously (not hidden from the building’s owners, their agents, and on-site employees), then any no-companion animal clause in a lease is considered waived and unenforceable.”

Unfortunately, many people give up their pets because they’ve signed a lease that specifies no cats or dogs, and they think that’s it. But the three-month rule overrides any agreement to the contrary.

The law also says tenants aren’t obliged to tell the landlord or his/her building agents about their pet. If a building employee knows of the pet, even if the building owners don’t know, that starts the three-month rule running. If the landlord doesn’t bring legal action against you within that three-month period, your pet is in like Flynn. Even if your landlord tells you to get out, you don’t have to. Only a judge can order you out.

If your landlord wants you to move because your pet does things that irritate your neighbors, you can get help for that, too. Pets for Life NYC can connect you with trainers and behaviorists who will work with you and your pet to correct the bothersome behavior.

And there other recourses available to you. For example, if the “no pet” provision in your lease is in type smaller than eight points or otherwise visibly unclear, then your landlord can’t use that lease as evidence to get rid of you.

Also, disability laws override any agreement to the contrary. “It’s like writing an agreement that if you need a wheelchair, you can’t bring it into your apartment. You can’t discriminate against people who have a disability. And a reasonable accommodation can, in many instances, mean having a dog or other companion animal in your apartment,” says Vernon.

Federal, state, and city laws may also protect your right to have your companion animal. Companion Animals in NYC Apartments – 2009 Edition states: “Under the federal Fair Housing Act 22, people with disabilities have been successful in arguing that, in certain circumstances, landlords must allow them to have a companion animal who provides them with emotional support as a reasonable accommodation.”

According to Vernon, any animal can be a service animal. He explains, “What defines a disability? The exact words are ‘your disability substantially interferes with a major life activity.’ That can be a whole host of things, like high blood pressure that’s so bad it interferes with major life activities, meaning work, socializing, eating, or going out. And depression is a disability. Not just everyday depression, but something chronic, serious, very debilitating. Depression can easily interfere with major life activities.”

But don’t take your animal in to be certified, take yourself. You’ll need to get a letter from your health care provider, the details of which are illustrated in this sample letter. When your companion animal has been determined to be “medically necessary,” a court can rule that your pet must be permitted to live with you.

Westchester County has similar laws. The ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States are working with other states to develop similar programs. Anita Kelso Edson, Senior Director of Media and Communication for the ASPCA, says “The emotional support animal concept is rooted in federal law, so it would be the same state to state.”

In New York City, the only animals that aren’t protected by the pet law are those whose owners live in New York City Housing (NYCHA). The New York City Housing Authority last year passed a law prohibiting any dog weighing over 25 pounds or any Doberman, Pit Bull, or Rottweiler. (Actually, there is no such breed as a Pit Bull — they’re usually a mix of an American Staffordshire Terrier and some other dog.) But even tenants of NYCHA have some recourse. For details, visit our Important Information for NYCHA Residents with Pets page.

According to the NYC Bar Association Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals, if your landlord refuses to make a reasonable accommodation after being notified of your rights, relief can be sought at the New York City Commission on Human Rights, at the NYS Division of Human Rights, and at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Enforcement, and in federal and state courts.

For a full description of your rights, contact an attorney knowledgeable in this area. You can find a lawyer through the NYC Bar’s Legal Referral Service at (212) 382-7373 or www.nycbar.org, or check our Legal Resources page.

On its website, the ASPCA advises, “If you are a NYCHA resident, you may have the legal right to keep your dog without risking your home. Contact attorney Darryl Vernon at (212) 949-7300 or dvernon@vgllp.com if you are approached by NYCHA management about your dog. Or you can contact the ASPCA Legal Department, 424 East 92nd Street, New York, NY 10128.

MFY Legal Services of New York City also publishes a comprehensive pamphlet on pet owners’ rights, Keeping Your Pet in a NYC Apartment: A Tenant’s Guide to New York City’s Pet Laws. Even before the introduction, it quotes Hon. Douglas E. McKeon in the case of 184 West 10th Street Corp. v. Marvits: “Indeed, so strong can be the bond between owner and pet that society recognizes the need for laws to protect each from the unscrupulous who would prey on one’s love for an animal to achieve their own selfish ends.”

Note: This article is not offered as legal advice and should not be relied upon for particular matters without the independent advice of counsel qualified in these issues. The law in this area changes frequently, and the information provide herein may be outdated. For counsel, contact your lawyer or one of the legal resources that can be found on our Legal Resources page.

by Jane Warshaw

Original post can be found here

Pets and Service Animals

Pets and Service Animals

Pets and Service Animals

 For a condensed version of the information below, click here for a printable pdf.

More information on law changes is available here. Have your lease available when calling the Tenant Resource Center so we can help you know what your rights and remedies are, including whether you can sue your landlord for double damages, court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Do I need permission to get a pet?

Probably! If you are currently in a lease, check your lease before you get a pet. If your lease requires permission to have a pet or to add a pet, make sure you get permission from your landlordin writing and keep a copy for your records. A landlord may just add something to your lease. Make sure both you and the landlord initial and date the change. If your landlord refuses to allow you to have a pet, wait until you move to a pet-friendly apartment. (From our blog: make sure toAssert the Rights You Have and Get It In Writing)

If you’re looking for a new apartment, make sure that you have permission in writing to have a pet.

What can happen if I get a pet without permission?

You could be evicted if it is prohibited in your lease. This would be a non-rent violation. The type of notice the landlord can give you, and whether you have a chance to get rid of the pet and avoid an eviction, will depend on several factors. For more information, please see Eviction. Being evicted makes it hard to find housing, can affect your credit, and does not relieve you from paying rent unless the landlord finds someone new to move in or your lease ends.

If one tenant has a pet, does the landlord have to allow everyone to have pets?

No. The landlord may give pet permission to some tenants and not others as long as they do notdiscriminate against certain tenants because of membership in a protected class, such as race, religion, sex, etc., or do it in retaliation against a tenant for enforcing their rights. It is not illegal for a landlord to discriminate against certain animals or breeds, as long as they are doing it for everyone.

What if I have a disability and depend on a service or companion animal?

This is a special situation. Because of federal fair housing laws that require landlords to allowreasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, the landlord may not prohibit a service animal or companion animal from living in the unit, or charge the tenant extra rent or security deposit. A service or companion animal should not be considered a pet. A service or companion animal should be treated, from the landlord’s perspective, like a piece of medical equipment.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act gives specific guidelines for what are and are not “service animals,” the Act says that “emotional support animals that do not qualify as service animals under the Department’s title III regulations may nevertheless qualify as permitted reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities under the FHAct and the ACAA.” The Fair Housing Act, which addresses “reasonable accommodations” in rental housing, is available here.

The tenant may be required to provide a note from a physician that verifies the service or companion animal is needed as an accommodation to the person with the disability. Even though the animal does not need to be a certified service or companion animal and apartment applicants are not required to state anything about the animal on an application, tenants may be required to provide a letter upon request after they move in.  This letter should be from a medical professional, and should include 2 important points:

  • Tenant has a disability (the medical professional doesn’t need to state the kind of disability)
  • That the animal is necessary to treat the disability that Tenant possesses (no certification or specification of what the animal does to treat the disability is necessary)

If the landlord refuses to allow the service or companion animal, you may contact:

How do I find landlords that rent to pet owners?

Check the regular rental listings–many landlords advertise that they allow pets. Some humane societies also keep lists of landlords who rent to people with pets. If you are looking for an apartment in Dane County, contact the Dane County Humane Society at (608) 838-0413, ext. 113. You can also search rental websites for units that allow pets.

How can I convince a landlord to rent to me and my pet?

Negotiate with the landlord

Contact the person who has the authority to grant you permission. This may be the resident manager, property manager, or owner of the building.

  • Use some of our negotiation suggestions.
  • Ask why the landlord has a no-pets policy. By asking up front about your landlord’s concerns, you can learn more about how to best present your own request. Considering your landlord’s position will encourage them to be more open to yours.
  • When negotiating with the landlord, be careful about waiving a lot of rights in order to get permission for a pet. If the landlord seems unreasonable, you may want to keep looking for another apartment.

Market yourself as a good pet owner

Prepare a “pet resume” and include proof of your claims. Include the following in the resume:

  • Good rental history. Write about your pet’s great rental history. Since some landlords require pet references, include letters of reference from current or previous landlords who can verify that your pet did not damage the apartments, and letters from neighbors who can attest to your pet’s good behavior and your own sense of responsibility.
  • Training. Mention that your pet is well-behaved. If your cat is litter box trained or uses a scratching post, be sure to say so. If your dog does not bark when left alone or has attended obedience classes, mention this and include receipts or a graduation certificate.
  • Veterinary records. State in the resume that your pets are well cared for and include copies of health certificates showing that your pets are spayed or neutered, free of fleas and ticks, and up-to-date on their vaccinations.
  • Renters insurance. Depending on what kind of pet you have, you may be able to purchase liability insurance for any damage your pet may do. If you have this insurance, mention it in your resume and include a copy of your policy.
  • Interview. Invite the landlord to “interview” your freshly groomed, well-behaved pet at your current home to show that your pet has not caused any damage.

Check out more detailed information and sample dog and cat resumes, or contact the Humane Society in your area.

In addition to presenting a pet resume, offer to sign a pet addendum to your rental agreement that makes you responsible for possible damage to property or injury to others.

Be a good pet owner

  • If you have a dog, make sure to clean up its waste.
  • Consider crate-training if you feel your dog may be destructive while you are not at home.
  • Make sure your cat has access to a scratching post and that one or more litter boxes are readily available. If your cat is scratching something it shouldn’t be, try putting aluminum foil or double-stick tape in that area to deter the behavior.
  • Talk to a veterinarian or other pet owners for advice on behavior issues.

Can landlords charge pet owners higher security deposits?

In the cities of Madison and Fitchburg, a security deposit cannot ever be more than one month’s rent.MGO 32.07(2)(b), FO 28.04(2)(a), Wis. Stat. 66.0104(2)(b)Eff. 12/21/11.

The State of Wisconsin imposes no limits on security deposit amounts. Landlords may charge pet owners more, but they must follow all the same laws about returning it. “Non-refundable” pet deposits are illegal.  For more information on Security Deposits, see our pages for Security Deposits in Madison, and Security Deposits in Wisconsin.

Can landlords charge pet owners more for rent?

Yes, landlords may charge a monthly pet fee of whatever amount they choose. It is always worth trying to negotiate if you feel the extra amount is unreasonable. However, you should plan some extra time for this, and get everything in writing. See the section above on convincing landlords to rent to you and your pet for specific things you can mention to negotiate with your landlord.

Can landlords automatically withhold money from pet owners’ security deposits?

No, landlords may only charge for actual damages. If your pet did damage the apartment, the landlord may charge you for the repairs. If you are paying additional rent for your pet and being charged from your security deposit, make sure you’re not being double-charged. If your landlord charges for pet damages, you can ask them (or a judge) to credit you for the amount you’ve paid in pet fees. Ask to see receipts for charges a landlord claims. If you feel you are being charged unfairly, contact the Tenant Resource Center for more information, or see Security Deposits (Madison or Wisconsin).

Where can I get more information?

  • The Humane Society of the United States has sample pet resumes and detailed information on how to find housing that accepts pets.
  • The Dane County Humane Society has a list of landlords who rent to pet owners. (608) 838-0413
  • Cats International provides information for cat owners.

The original post can be found here.