Court Invalidates Midwest City Breed Ban

dog in shelterThe state of Oklahoma is one of a handful of states that actually bans breed specific legislation.  Click here for a list of the other states. 

The state has also worked to dispel any belief that municipalities can pass breed specific laws under the theory of "home rule".  Under "home rule" municipalities in some states can override state law on matters of purely local concern. The Oklahoma state Attorney General issued an opinion in August 2005 that breed bans involve issues that concern both the state and the municipalities and that any breed ban in Oklahoma  is illegal.  

On September 18, 2007 the State Attorney General issued another opinion that any breed specific ordinances violate state law.

Then in November, 2007 the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals found that an injunction should have been issued to stop a pit bull from being euthanized and allow an adopter to take him from the Oklahoma City shelter.  Oklahoma City has a policy of refusing to adopt out pit bull terriers from its animal shelter.  In its opinion the Court stated, "The plain meaning of the statute forbids (the) City from regulating …dogs by breed….The Policy adopted by City’s Animal Welfare Superintendent does just that. Therefore, the Policy is in conflict with the statute and must fail."

The ruling reversed a decision by Oklahoma County District Judge Vicki Robertson.

The case started when Karen Lewis attempted to adopt a pit bull terrier from the shelter; Lewis had actually called animal control to have the dog removed from a home where she said it was left tied to a tree without food or water.

When the shelter refused then to adopt the dog to her, Lewis sought an injunction to stop the shelter from euthanizing the dog and let her adopt it. Judge Robertson sided with the shelter and denied the injunction. The dog was euthanized, but Lewis appealed anyway.

Oklahoma City was not the only city in Oklahoma attempting to circumvent the state’s ban on breed bans. Tulsa, Oklahoma also had a policy of not adopting out "pit bull" dogs. The city abandoned the policy after these opinions.  Del City actually had a breed ban which the city abandoned after these opinions.  

Midwest City alone persists in enforcing a ban on "pit bull" dogs.  Despite the Attorney General’s opinion, Midwest City has said its breed ban is valid as an exercise of home rule, a matter of purely local concern.

But this past week the Oklahoma Court of Appeals disagreed, declaring the state ban on breed specific legislation means Midwest City cannot ban or restrict dogs based on breed. The ruling means Jerry and Carol Stuckey who challenged the Midwest City breed ban may get to keep their bull terrier dogs. The city, however, says it will appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.  As the Stuckeys’ attorney, Scott Adams, put it, the city will "continue to spend thousands and thousands" of taxpayer dollars to try to take away "Spud- MacKenzie" type family pets.


Find Midwest City, Oklahoma mayor and city council members and their contact information here. Write (faxes are best) or call and urge them to comply with state law and repeal the breed ban. Please be polite.