The Power of E-mail

December 14, 2011  

In Cumberland County, North Carolina, 18,000-plus e-mails helped stop a breed-discriminatory policy

By Laura Allen, Animal Law Coalition

(photos by Melissa Lipani)

Cumberland County, North Carolina is proving to be a pivotal battle in the war to end breed discrimination. More than 100 people who represented people who live with or care for pit bulls – guardians, caregivers, rescuers, trainers and groomers – showed up at a hearing on Dec. 8 to explain to the county Animal Control Board that a plan to ban or limit adoptions of pit bulls simply won’t work to reduce bites or improve public safety.

On Oct. 3, Animal Control Director Dr. Lauby, DVM, CVCP and the Animal Control Board recommended a ban on adoptions from the shelter by county residents. The proposed ban would apply to pit bulls, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Presa Canarios “or any mix of those breeds.” This would mean that because of their so-called breed or appearance, these dogs would be euthanized after they are impounded with no chance of finding a home.

In the past several weeks, the county Animal Control Director Dr. John Lauby has received more than 18,000 e-mails from people protesting the adoption ban.

Dr. Lauby told the Animal Control Board at the October meeting that pit bulls present a “major concern” because of “liability.” Yet he offered no evidence of this in Cumberland County. Since then, Dr. Lauby has said that 80 percent of the 200 or so calls that animal control receives each day involve pit bulls. The calls generally involve dogs that are off leash, at large. People call because the dogs are “chasing people, chasing dogs, they’re on school grounds and generally bother people.”

It’s curious that the focus is on the dog’s so-called breed or appearance and not that the dogs are running around loose. The issue would seem to be the negligence of guardians or caregivers in failing to leash or control the dogs. Does the county enforce the leash or at-large laws?

After strong public opposition to the plan when it was announced in October, Dr. Lauby in a Dec. 4 e-mail claimed:

“My discussion with the board was to limit the adoptions in Cumberland County not ban the adoptions. I am working … to initiate a program to better screen the homes for adoptions in Cumberland County. No where in my discussion did I say to stop adoptions of pits and or ban the pits in Cumberland County. We both know irresponsible owners are the cause of most of my problems. What I really need help with is creating stronger penalties in our ordinances which give me the power to go after the owners who are causing my problems. Most of the dogs that are causing our problems are neither vaccinated or registered in our county making ownership hard to establish. This demonstrates the need for better licensing and vaccination programs through effective use of Chameleon by our Animal Control. I would hope your organization would like to help us find homes for a majority of the adoptable bullies [we] are putting to sleep every year. I think we need to go education program, and spay neuter for any aggressive or menacing animals running loose no matter the breed.”

The Oct. 3 minutes reflect that Dr. Lauby clearly talked the Animal Control Board into recommending a ban on adoptions of pit bulls and the other breeds and mixes. His Dec. 4 e-mail backing away from that with a plan to “limit the adoptions” sounded, of course, like buzz words for what would in effect be an unwritten adoption ban.

But at last night’s meeting, the board formally dropped the idea of an adoption ban, and Dr. Lauby agreed to work with rescues and others to develop protocols for screening adopters. The idea is to make sure dogs are adopted to people who can manage and care for them humanely and responsibly. The new plan still sounds breed specific, but hopefully will serve as a first step to improving public safety by holding guardians and caregivers responsible for dog behavior instead of the so-called breed or appearance of the dog.

Also, few bullies are adopted from the shelter regardless. If you or your organization can help Dr. Lauby increase adoptions of bullies, please contact him at [email protected]

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Comments

2 Responses to “The Power of E-mail”
  1. Awesome outcome, stay on top of the situation. From the sounds of it Mr. Lauby can be a handful if he thinks the residents of Cumberland County have let down there guard. This story sounds familiar; Charles County Commissioners in Maryland attempted the same thing back in July of this year. The Pretty Chic with the Pits along with many residents in Charles County showed up and showed out. The information we provided along with the suggestions on how the county should go after neglectful owners and ban the breed caused the Commissioners to “abandoned” the idea of banning pit bulls, pit bull mixes or any dog exhibiting the “characteristics” of pit bulls. It’s about education, as J.I. Joe said “knowing is half the battle” It was the first victory for The Pretty Chic with the Pits and in 2012 we plan on having more victories! Stubbydog will contact you, an e-mail will be forthcoming with the information. We can no longer sit on the sidelines or stay behind the scenes, it’s time for us to be front and center for this wonderful bully breed!

  2. Another celebrity adopted a pit bull Charlize Theron. I like her and Keanu they make magic when they’re on the silver screen. We need to tap into the resources that’s around us (they’re closer than we think). Charlize was Ellen yesterday talking about Pit Bulls and how they’re misunderstood. I declare 2012 is the year of Pit Bulls