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Sherwood | Supporters of pit bulls want city to repeal its ban

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Molly the Staffordshire Bull terrier plays plays with a ball at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home as she awaits a possible new owner on August 2, 2010 in London, England. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home rehome or return to their owners around 5,000 animals a year, however many dogs have to be put down because they are unsuitable to rehome despite being physically healthy. Last year the animal shelter had to put 2815 dogs to sleep. 321 of those because they were banned breeds, 482 for medical reasons, 81 due to behavioral problems and 1931 because of their temperament and aggressive nature which pose a risk to the public. 43 per cent of the dogs that come in to the dog's home are Staffordshire Bull terriers. Known as "Staffies" these dogs and similar crossbreeds are increasingly popular within gang culture as a status symbol, however, once abandoned they are very difficult to rehome due to their aggressive temperament.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Molly the Staffordshire Bull terrier plays plays with a ball at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home as she awaits a possible new owner on August 2, 2010 in London, England. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home rehome or return to their owners around 5,000 animals a year, however many dogs have to be put down because they are unsuitable to rehome despite being physically healthy. Last year the animal shelter had to put 2815 dogs to sleep. 321 of those because they were banned breeds, 482 for medical reasons, 81 due to behavioral problems and 1931 because of their temperament and aggressive nature which pose a risk to the public. 43 per cent of the dogs that come in to the dog's home are Staffordshire Bull terriers. Known as "Staffies" these dogs and similar crossbreeds are increasingly popular within gang culture as a status symbol, however, once abandoned they are very difficult to rehome due to their aggressive temperament. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Should Sherwood repeal its ban on pit bulls? There are some who think so – at least in the world of cyberspace.

By early August, an online petition located at change.org organized by North Little Rock resident Renata Halferty had garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

Halferty said she appreciated everyone who signed and shared the petition.

“Could you please take a moment and share it again?” said Halferty. “Especially with people who live in Sherwood. It is time for change.”

While the petition does have more than 1,000 signatures, it had numerous signatures from people living outside of the area.

The petition is being directed to Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman and the members of the Sherwood City Council.

According to the petition, the City of Sherwood currently prohibits the ownership of certain dogs based on their breed or appearance (also known as breed-specific legislation, or BSL).

While the intent of the law is to protect the public interest, it has not only proved to be ineffective, but has come at the huge cost of many dog’s lives and violated the constitutional rights of citizens who love the banned breed by forcing them to either surrender their pets, or move out of city limits, according to Halferty.

“Currently, cities and municipalities all over the country are reversing BSL as more states are finding them unconstitutional and disallow breed bans such as California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. Currently, no state allows a state-wide ban any longer,” she said.

Research from the American Veterinarian Medical Association, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Humane Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that BSL is a misguided and factually unsupported policy for protecting public safety, Halferty said.

“Rather, enforcement of leash and licensing laws, restricting breeding within municipalities and supporting education and access to spay/neuter of resident animals directly correlated to decreases in bite cases while fostering humane attitudes towards animals in the community,” she said.

The petition reads as follows:

“To The Honorable Mayor Hillman and the City Council of Sherwood:

“Whereas we recognize that each and every dog is an individual in temperament and behavior, and physical appearance does not determine behavior;

“Whereas all dogs have the potential to do serious or lethal harm, and this is not dictated solely by a dog’s physical appearance but by a number of complex circumstances;

“Whereas dog owners should be held strictly liable for the actions of their dogs regardless of the dog’s physical appearance, so that both dog owners and victims of irresponsible dog owners are provided equal rights and restitutions;

“Whereas breed-specific or breed-discriminatory legislation is unethical and inhumane, and has been shown to be financially unsupportable, a detriment to public safety, and a legal quagmire;

“Whereas non-breed-specific or non-discriminatory laws provide public safety in an effective, humane, legal, equitable and ethical manner;

“We, the undersigned, ask that the City of Sherwood repeal breed specific ordinances while increasing public safety through stricter breeding laws, enhanced enforcement of current leash and licensing laws and improving access to spay/neuter for the pets of Sherwood’s citizens.”

Some local online petition supporters provided comments about why they believe Sherwood should repeal the ordinance.

Christine Henderson of Jacksonville said, “It just doesn’t work. Other cities are repealing the BSL ban because they realized it was a bad decision. Little Rock allows pit bulls. The entire state of Arkansas should too.”

Stephanie Burnett of North Little Rock said, “This ordinance only effects those that are law abiding citizens. Those that do not care still own these dogs. Also, how is this constitutional? Thank you for considering this change.”

Peggy Crotzer of Sherwood said, “It is not the breed, but the owner. No dog should be held accountable for its owners actions.

Julia Vancena of North Little Rock added, “Pitbulls are very loving, loyal dogs. Their original purpose was to serve as nanny dogs because of that love and loyalty especially to their kids. Dogs learn what they are taught. Blame the owner - the ones that decide whether they will be a fighter or a family dog.”

Bevelyn Harmon of Sherwood said, “Hold the human responsible for the behavior that is taught to the dog. The dog deserves the opportunity to have a good, forever home.”

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