Animal Law Coalition Teams Up with Luv-A-Bull to Stop BSL in Texas
|January 6, 2009||Posted by russmead under Breed Bans|
Update Mar. 28: Good news! Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has closed the file on state Rep. Tony Goolsby’s request for an opinion about whether local governments can pass breed specific legislation!
Rep. Goolsby had hoped the answer would be yes. But afterÂ Animal Law Coalition and Luv-a-bull filed a brief arguing that Texas law does not allow any local government to pass BSL, the Attorney General closed his file…..
For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.Â Â Â Â
Original report: Texas State Rep. Tony Goolsby has asked the Attorney General, Greg Abbott, to give an opinion about whether local governments can pass breed specific legislation. A Texas law prohibits BSL, but Rep. Goolsby argues that it only applies to "dangerous dogs". In other words, Rep. Goolsby believesÂ local governments in Texas should be able to pass BSL for dogs that are not deemed dangerous.
Of course, such an interpretation would completely undermine the law which is explicit that no BSL is allowed. Â And what would be the purpose of BSL that bans or restricts dogs that are not dangerous? Assuming, of course, that BSL serves any purpose other than to satisfy unfounded stereotypes and prejudices.
In his request to the Attorney General, Rep. Goolsby talks of a plan to restrict "pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Doberman Pinchers". He has been quoted as saying "[t]hese dogs are going to continue to maim and kill." See "Texas AG being asked if cities can ban dog breeds" by David Saleh Rauf, San Antonio Express-News, Dec. 22, 2008.
Animal Law Coalition has teamed up with Luv-A-Bull, Inc. to urge the Texas Attorney General to recognize the plain language of the statute that prohibits local governments from passing BSL.Â You will find our brief attached. Here is an excerpt:
Under the proposed interpretation, breed specific bans or restrictions would be permissible except against dogs that have been declared dangerous. Imagine a county or municipality ordering every pit bull or Rottweiler, for example, out of the jurisdiction except those that have been declared dangerous. Under that scenario, animal control could seize one resident’s pit bull that was harmless, but not the neighbor’s, even though it had been declared dangerous. It would be absurd. Or imagine a local government passing an ordinance requiring all owners to muzzle their pit bulls, Rottweilers and German Shepherds at all times. Such an ordinance could only apply to owners of those targeted dogs that have not been declared dangerous. It would make no sense.
It is absurd to think pets that have never given any indication they would harm anyone, can be the target of breed specific legislation, but a "dangerous dog," regardless of whether it has been officially declared dangerous, would be exempt from such regulation. See Tex. Health & Safety Code Â§822.041(2). A county or municipality could ban pit bulls except for the ones that bite or growl in a menacing manner? If a pit bull has not been declared dangerous, animal control or the courts would be required to make the determination about whether the dog is "dangerous" pursuant to Tex. Health & Safety Code Â§822.041(2) and therefore entitled to remain in the jurisdiction. Or, animal control and the courts would be required to find that a dog was not dangerous and thus must be removed from the jurisdiction or euthanized. Owners of banned or restricted breeds would seek to have their dogs declared dangerous or at least argue they are dangerous. It could actually save their dogs’ lives if they are declared or considered "dangerous". And the county or municipality would be free of the banned breeds except, of course, those dogs that present a danger to the public. See Tex. Dep’t. of Protective and Regulatory Services v. Mega Child Care, Inc., 145 S.W. 3d 170, 177 (Tex. 2004) (observing that courts must avoid statutory interpretations that lead to absurd results.) See also City of Rockwall v. Hughes, 246 S.W.3d 621, 625-626Â Â (Tx. 2008)(courts must not construe statutes in such a way that will lead to absurd results); Wesco Distrib. v. Westport Group, Inc., 150 S.W.3d 553, 557 (Tx. Ct. App. 2004)(We must be mindful of the consequences of possible constructions when interpreting a statute, because courts should not construe statutes in a way that leads to foolish or absurd consequences.)Â Clearly, this could not be the intention of Section 822.047. The only reasonable result, the one intended by the legislature, is that BSL is prohibited statewide.
Also, the entire premise of Rep. Goolsby’s proposed BSL is that some breeds are dangerous. He has said as much, offering his belief that these dogs will "maim and kill."Â BSL has no purpose except to protect the public from allegedly dangerous breeds. Any local regulation based on breed would be for the purpose of controlling allegedly dangerous dogs. The Legislature has decided, however, that BSL should not be available as a means to regulate dangerous dogs.Â Thus, any regulation of dogs by breed conflicts with state law. The state has "with unmistakable clarity" in Â§822.047 preempted the subject of regulation of dogs by breed. City of Beaumont v. Fall, 291 S.W. 202, 206 (Tex. 1927). See also Dallas Merchant’s & Concessionaire’s Ass’n., 852 S.W.2d 489, 490-492 (Tex. 1993)
Contact Attorney General Greg Abbott at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.comÂ and urge him to issue an opinion that under the plain reading of Sec. 822.047, no local government in Texas is allowed to pass BSL.Â Please be polite!