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Old 08-17-2011, 02:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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CA: Sonoma - ***ALERT***

BSL ALERT: Sonoma, California
Posted on August 17, 2011
by Bless the Bullys| Leave a comment
In the wake of a tragic fatal mauling in Pacifica, California, Sonoma City Councilwoman, Joanne Sanders, wants the city to reconsider regulating pit bulls and other dog breeds. Sanders said she supports banning pit bulls within city limits, and has previously support an attempt to enact BSL in Sonoma. California state law prohibits breed specific legislation in any form other than breed specific MSN. While Sonoma County has already enacted MSN for pit bulls for its unincorporated areas, the city of Sonoma is not included.

Regardless of your position on spay/neuter, any law that targets certain breeds of dogs is breed specific legislation, and is plagued with all the same flaws of any law that regulates breeds based on their appearance.

Please send your POLITE, RESPECTFUL and INFORMATIVE opposition to breed specific legislation to the officials of Sonoma County listed below.

City Council
City of Sonoma
No. 1 The Plaza
Sonoma CA 95476

Steve Barbose
(707) 292-3675
[email protected]

Ken Brown
(707) 938-8623
[email protected]

Laurie Gallian
(707) 738-9847
[email protected]

Joanne Sanders
(707) 938-4422
[email protected]

Tom Rouse
(707) 738-7897
[email protected]

Gay Johann, MMC
City Clerk
City of Sonoma
No. 1 The Plaza
Sonoma CA 95476
(707) 933-2216
(707) 938-2559 fax
[email protected]

Linda Kelly, City Manager
Telephone [707] 933-2215
Fax: [707] 922-2229
E-mail: [email protected]

City Council Agendas:

.:: City of Sonoma ::.

The City Council normally meets at 6:00 p.m., on the first and third Monday of each month. Meetings are held in the Community Meeting Room at 177 First Street West, Sonoma California.

Sonoma councilwoman wants crackdown on pit bullsBy DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 5:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 5:13 p.m.
A Sonoma councilwoman said she wants the city to reconsider regulating pit bulls and other dog breeds after a pregnant Pacifica woman was mauled to death last week by her family pet.

Joanne Sanders asked city staff at Monday’s City Council meeting to research options for regulating what she called vicious dogs.

In an interview Tuesday, Sanders said she personally supports banning pit bulls within city limits.

“I think pit bulls are a great start,” she said.

Sanders said the city previously considered but failed to enact legislation regulating certain dog breeds.

She said her motivation to bring the issue back was sparked by last Thursday’s attack in Pacifica that killed Darla Napora, 32.

Authorities said Napora bled to death after she was mauled by her pit bull.

The attack re-ignited the long-running debate over whether pit bulls and other dog breeds are inherently dangerous. The dog involved in the Pacifica attack was an unneutered 2-year-old male pit bull.

A state law enacted in 2005 gave California communities the power to require spaying and neutering for specific dog breeds. The law was passed following a series of high-profile pit bull attacks in San Francisco, Sonoma County and other parts of the state.

The county of Sonoma, as well as several cities within the county, have additional penalties for the owners of dangerous pets, including registration fees, fines and a requirement that owners of dogs judged vicious must procure $500,000 in liability insurance if they want to keep their pet.

The law also requires spaying and neutering of pit bull-related breeds once they reach four months of age.

Sanders said she plans to bring the issue before the City Council at an upcoming meeting.

“This is a charged issue for sure,” she said.

Sonoma councilwoman wants crackdown on pit bulls | PressDemocrat.com
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Old 08-22-2011, 04:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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California state law prohibits breed specific legislation in any form other than breed specific MSN.

Contact information for Sonoma officials can be found at this link: BSL ALERT: Sonoma, California | Bless the Bullys


Pacifica Pit Bull Legislation? Official Reactions Mixed
Several reasons lead local officials to think regulating pit bulls is either near impossible or worth researching.
•By Camden Swita
•Email the author
•August 19, 2011

Sonoma's civic leaders are considering regulating pit bulls, perhaps even banning them, in the wake of last week's fatal mauling of a Pacifica woman by her family dog, an unneutered male.

But are such regulations likely in Pacifica? Local officials say there's not enough information yet. It may not be a good idea, it may not be the right time, and it may be almost impossible, they say.

At the City Council meeting in Sonoma Monday night, Mayor Pro Tem Joanne Sanders said she’s considering proposing pit bull legislation in the North Bay city.

Sanders told attendees she is determined to prevent the kind of attack in Sonoma city limits that occurred in Pacifica and directed city staff to research regulations pertaining to vicious animals.

"I would be remiss if I didn't try to use my position as a city councilwoman to make that change happen here," she said.

In an interview with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sanders said she supports banning pit bulls within city limits.
“I think pit bulls are a great start,” she told the paper.

Similar legislation has been discussed in many parts of the country over the past decade following a series of high-profile attacks.
The proposed laws ranged from an outright ban of pit bulls and pit bull mixes and mandating licenses for owners and dog breeders to requirements that the animals be spayed or neutered.

After an attack on a 9-year-old boy in Vancouver, WA, the city looked at a total ban of the breed, while a similar bill in Michigan stalled in January.

In 2005, Denver reinstated a pit bull ban. One of the strongest anti-pit bull bills, the Denver law bars any dog of the pit bull family (American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers) and any dog that looks like a pit bull.
Owners shipped their pits bulls out of town, or hid them to avoid a roundup which euthanized hundreds of family pets.

After a series of attacks by pit bulls in Northern California, a 2005 state law gave California communities the right to mandate breed-specific spaying and neutering.

Sonoma County also requires owners of "vicious" dogs to hold $500,000 of liability insurance for their pet.

Closer to home, the City and County of San Francisco took a more moderate approach to controlling pit bulls. In 2006, it passed a law that makes it illegal to own an unaltered pit bull (not spayed or neutered) or pit bull mix. Along with that requirement, pit bull or pit bull mix owners must obtain a permit from animal control to breed their animal.

The San Francisco laws were based on research done by a "canine response working group" commissioned by Mayor Gavin Newsom after the 2005 fatal mauling of 12-year-old Nicholas Faibish by his family pit bulls.

Proponents of the laws said the restrictions were meant not only to prevent attacks, but reduce the number of pit bull and pit bull mix strays, which made up about three-quarters of the county’s shelter dogs.

Eighteen months after the laws passed, Carl Friedman, San Francisco Animal Care and Control Department director, said the city had impounded 21 percent fewer pit bulls and the number of pit bulls euthanized had dropped by 24 percent.

Pacifica Mayor Mary Ann Nihart said she has been investigating pit bull regulation, whether it be a spaying and neutering requirement or a ban, and what she’s found leads her to believe it would be nearly impossible to do either.

That’s because it is difficult to enforce such laws, partly because the city lacks resources right now and partly because of how the city receives animal control services, she said.

Pacifica contracts out animal control services with Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA along with 19 other cities in San Mateo County. According to a newly signed three-year contract with the organizations that covers all cities, no pit bull regulation is included in the PHS’s responsibilities. If a city wants that as an extra service, it will either have to set up a separate contract and pay the organization more money or deliver the service itself.

Nihart said Pacifica already pays the PHS more than $250,000 for animal control services, and it just doesn’t have the money for pit bull regulation.

She added that insurance liability, and the extra staffing and equipment the city would need to acquire to enforce pit bull regulations on its own, are unaffordable right now.

Nihart also questioned what kinds of dogs Pacifica should regulate.

“The issue is the breed,” Nihart said. “You’d almost have to ban all terriers to catch the ones you want.”

In other words, how would the city enforce the law?

“Will you track people down in their homes?” Nihart said. “How are you going to do that? It’s a thorny, much more convoluted issue than people think. It is almost impossible.”

PHS spokesman Scott Delucchi says it would be a bad idea for cities in San Mateo County to develop different laws on pit bulls while they are collectively contracting out animal control services with his organization.

“It would be difficult for our officers to enforce,” he said. “For instance, dogs who are stray, they may go from Pacifica to Daly City, and as an animal control provider, which rules do you use?

"We’re [the PHS] not interested in cities ordering from a menu: 'I want A, B and C but not D, E and F.' It makes it very difficult.”
Delucchi, who writes a weekly column on pet issues for Patch, said Thursday he believes pit bull regulation is not only unlikely but wrong for the county.

It is possible all San Mateo County cities that contract with the PHS could decide they want to add pit bull regulation to their agreement the next time it is negotiated.

Delucchi said he believes this is highly unlikely.

“The challenge in doing something similar [to San Francisco] in San Mateo County is that [the regulation] would have to pass in 20 cities, where in San Francisco one body votes on it, only one group looks at it,” he said.

“Here you have 21, including the county. Again, to have 20 cities in the county focus on one piece of legislation—I don’t know that it would happen, given the bigger issues they’re dealing with right now. I just don’t see how they would all focus on that, and by the time they will focus on that, people will have forgotten and moved on to something else.”

Another problem with such legislation: it would target those dog owners who are the hardest to convince that spaying and neutering their pets is important, Delucchi said.

“Just because something becomes law, it doesn’t mean people will comply. Legislation, like this, targets the least responsible people, since the most responsible get their pets fixed without it,” he wrote in his most recent column on Patch. “And, the least responsible people are highly unlikely to respond when enforcement is spotty and the surgery costs them $200 to $350 at their vet office.”

Instead of legislation, the PHS is trying to make it as easy, even lucrative, to have pit bulls spayed or neutered.

“Five years ago, with support from a donor, we purchased a mobile spay/neuter clinic and began visiting targeted communities offering free fixes,” he said. “No strings attached, no appointments needed. And, since that time, pits and pit mixes have dropped from 23 percent to 18 percent of our incoming dog population.”

Delucchi said the mobile clinic averages over 1,000 surgeries each year. This is in addition to the 5,500 low-cost spay/neuter surgeries performed by the group's on-site clinic.

The PHS will also pay pit owners $10 to have their dog fixed.

Mayor Nihart said she has no plans to introduce any kind of pit bull legislation to the Pacifica City Council right now.
Councilman Jim Vreeland, on the other hand, has already asked staff to look into the implications of a neutering requirement for the breed.

"I'm going to say something at the next council meeting (on Sept. 1) and ask staff to bring some research back at another council meeting," he said. "We need to look at the enforcement part of it, how to implement it, and what the implications would be."

Councilman Len Stone said he would like more information before advocating for regulation.

“Your heart breaks when such a tragic event occurs,” Stone said. “It makes you wonder if there was anything that could have been done to prevent it from happening. I certainly would like to see the statistics on how often attacks happen and how effective laws have been in reducing incidents before jumping into anything.”

When asked whether she thinks pit bull regulation in Pacifica is a good idea, Councilwoman Sue Digre said now is not the right time.

“It would depend on whether the community would want to talk about it or if they wouldn't want to” she said. “Anything like that usually comes from the community. Would I be surprised [if it did]? No, I wouldn’t. Would I be surprised, if it didn’t? Right now is a traumatic, dramatic time, and the compassion for what the family is going through seems to be the most important thing and I appreciate that. I think it’s premature to even go there.”

Councilmen Pete DeJarnatt has not yet responded to queries about pit bull regulation in Pacifica.

Sonoma Patch Editor Alexis Fitts contributed reporting to this article.

Pacifica Pit Bull Legislation? Official Reactions Mixed - Pacifica, CA Patch
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Dog lovers protest Sonoma councilwoman's pit-bull comments

By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Published: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 6:29 p.m.

Amid howls of protest from dog lovers, a Sonoma councilwoman this week sought to clarify her remarks about a ban on pit bulls in the city.
Joanne Sanders insisted that she never was seeking such a ban, despite telling a reporter that she “personally supports” taking that action, not only in her city, but for all of Sonoma County.

“That's how strongly I feel about these dogs,” Sanders said last week.

But Sanders, who is the city's pro-tem mayor, sought to distance herself from those remarks this week after she and other city leaders were deluged with angry emails and phone calls. Sanders said one person changed the profile picture on a Facebook page to include one of her with a line through her face.

Sanders says that her critics misinterpreted her personal opinion about banning pit bulls to mean that she would be advocating that position for the city, and that all along, she simply wanted her fellow council members to consider “options” for regulating vicious dogs.

That's done little to sway animal advocates. Bob Edwards, president of Sonoma Valley Dog Owners and Guardians, called Sanders' efforts “an unhelpful solution to a non-problem.”

Sanders first broached the subject of canine regulations at an Aug. 15 City Council meeting in which she spoke of the death of a pregnant Pacifica woman who was mauled to death by her own pet, a pit-bull named Gunner.

The Aug. 11 fatality re-ignited the long-running debate over whether pit bulls and other dog breeds are inherently dangerous. The dog involved in the Pacifica attack was an unneutered two-year-old male pit bull.

Sanders asked city staff and Police Chief Bret Sackett to research what Sonoma does to regulate vicious dogs.

In a subsequent interview, Sanders singled out pit bulls and Presa Canarios as the focus of her concern. Two Presa Canarios in 2001 attacked and killed Diane Whipple outside of her San Francisco apartment.

Sanders said the last time city leaders considered the topic was in 2005 when they debated whether to endorse proposed legislation in Sacramento that would allow municipalities to mandate that owners of certain dog breeds spay or neuter their pets.

Sanders said there weren't enough votes on the City Council back then to support the proposed law, which ultimately was enacted.
She said she's hoping the council's new make-up could lead to support for new animal regulations.

Among the options she supports is the mandatory spay and neuter option for certain dog breeds. “I unabashedly admit that I'm in favor of enhancing regulations to minimize the chance of something like that happening here,” she said in reference to the death in Pacifica.

Banning the dogs is not an option because California law prohibits municipalities from taking such action, a fact Sanders said she learned after her initial comments on the issue were aired.

“I'm not going to do something that's not within our jurisdiction,” she said this week.

Sonoma's current regulations require that all dogs over four months old be licensed, vaccinated and under the owner's control, with an eight-foot limit on leash length.

The city also mandates that any pet owner who knows their animal has a “vicious propensity” must keep the animal confined or in their control at all times, or risk being charged with a misdemeanor.

The city law defines vicious animals as any that display “menacing, threatening or unruly manner,” or have bitten a human being “without unusual provocation.”

Edwards criticized the law for being too vague and for potentially demonizing otherwise harmless dogs. He said he supports clarifying the language but he said he is opposed to mandatory spaying and neutering.

“Like human beings, every dog has to be judged on its merits,” he said.

The county of Sonoma mandates that all pit bulls over four months of age be spayed or neutered. But it's unclear whether the law is being enforced. The county's Animal Control Director, Amy Cooper, did not return messages seeking comment on Tuesday.

The county also requires dog owners whose pets are deemed dangerous to keep the animal behind a six-foot fence and muzzled when outside on a leash. The owner also could have to pay an additional cost to license the animal. Several cities in Sonoma County have similar provisions.

Nineteen pit bulls are registered within the city of Sonoma, according to Chief Sackett. He said the dogs are recorded as “pit bulls” although the term can be a catch-all for other related breeds.

Sackett said part of the difficulty of crafting ordinances addressing pit bulls is defining what animals fall into that category. “There is great debate about that,” he said.

He said the city's two animal control officers, who collectively have been with the department for about four years, could not recall an instance of a pit bull or related breed biting a person during that period of time. Sackett said the city typically investigates a handful of biting cases every year.

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article...p=all&tc=pgall
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Old 09-06-2011, 04:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In light of Councilwoman Sanders' comments related to the regulation of "pit bulls," residents are strongly encouraged to attend the council meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, September 7.

The original alert for Sonoma, along with contact information, can be found at this link: BSL ALERT: Sonoma, California | Bless the Bullys

Council to look at dog rules
By David Bolling INDEX-TRIBUNE EDITOR

Sep 5, 2011 - 04:40 PM

The Sonoma City Council will meet Wednesday, Sept. 7 in a session delayed by the Labor Day holiday.

On the agenda will be a discussion of possible actions that could be taken by the City Council to amend current regulations governing vicious dogs. The agenda item is an outgrowth of concerns expressed by Mayor Pro Tem Joanne Sanders over the Pacifica death of a pregnant woman who was mauled by the family's pet pit bull.

Public reaction to Sanders' suggestion that the city explore better ways to manage dangerous dogs has been passionate, especially from people suspicious that Sanders' agenda is to ban pit bulls.

But breed-specific bans are not allowed under California state law and Sanders has more recently said she would be interested in exploring adoption of an ordinance like the one imposed by Sonoma County which requires the spay/neuter of the dogs after they reach four months of age.

Council to look at dog rules - Sonoma News - News 2011 - Sonoma, CA
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Old 09-08-2011, 01:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sonoma tosses dog issue to community
By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 9:44 p.m.
The emotional debate over whether Sonoma should do more to regulate vicious or potentially dangerous dogs was handed back to the community Wednesday night by the City Council.

Councilwoman Joanne Sanders failed to generate support for her proposal to investigate the various regulations in place in Sonoma County with the idea that Sonoma could make its own rules more stringent.

After about 30 minutes of public comment from supporters of dogs and breeds often highlighted as particularly dangerous, the council declined to take action. Instead, it asked community members to come together to determine whether changes to current city ordinance are necessary.

“I think this discussion was a good thing and perhaps more discussion is even better,” said Councilman Tom Rouse. “We don't have a problem today.”

“Picking on a particular breed of dog, I'm not for that,” he said.

Sanders had drawn fire in the past two weeks for suggesting enhanced regulations for dogs and breeds deemed vicious or potentially dangerous. Sanders expressed disappointment Wednesday night that the council did not move forward with exploring ways to augment current regulations.

“I'm disappointed that there is not more support to look into the regulations that are in place in Sonoma County,” she said. “Hopefully we will not have a tragic event that we continue to hear about in the communities around us.”

Sanders first raised the issue last month after the fatal mauling of a pregnant Pacifica woman by her unneutered 2-year-old male pitbull.

Although pitbulls and related breeds generated the most conversation locally, many of the more than a dozen people who spoke on the issue Wednesday night said those particular dogs are being unfairly maligned.

“We don't have a vicious dog problem in Sonoma. We don't have an overpopulation problem in Sonoma,” said Bob Edwards, president of the non-profit Sonoma Valley Dog Owners and Guardians.

California prohibits municipalities from banning particular breeds.

Sonoma's current regulations require that all dogs older than 4 months be licensed, vaccinated and under the owner's control, with an 8-foot limit on leash length.

The city also requires any pet owner who knows their animal has a “vicious propensity” must keep the animal confined or in their control at all times, or risk being charged with a misdemeanor. City law defines vicious animals as any that display a “menacing, threatening or unruly manner,” or have bitten a human being “without unusual provocation.”

Mayor Laurie Gallian said that after Wednesday night's discussion, she hopes any community group will pursue educating the public on how to report dog bites, so that problem dogs can be tracked.

Sanders said she will continue to pursue the issue.

“If we don't get some controls in place, if we don't do something,” she said, “these bad dog owners are going to ruin it for the rest of the good dog owners.”

Sonoma tosses dog issue to community | PressDemocrat.com
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