Wilkes-Barre mayor wants BSL
A very determined young woman, Samantha Blum of Wilkes-Barre is working to try and prevent Wilkes-Barre's mayor, Thomas M. Leighton form gaining permission from Pennsylvania state legislators to ignore the statewide law disallowing municipalities in the state to enact BSL (Breed Specific Legislation). Leighton wants to create a law disallowing "vicious dogs" from roaming free in public parks.
The impetus behind Leighton's desire is because of two recent yet unrelated incidents at the county owned park known as River Common. On June 29 a man's small, leashed dog was attacked in the park by two loose dogs. The little one was injured to the point of needing euthanization.
On July 4, responding to a call of a dog running wild in River Common Park, police shot and killed a pit bull dog. With no owner in sight and the dog acting aggressively, a police officer shot the dog when it lunged at him.
This isn't the first time Leighton has attempted enacting BSL in Wilkes-Barre. In 2001, when Leighton was a member of city council, he pushed to ban pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds and Doberman Pinschers from city parks after authorities shot a pit bull during a raid at a Woodward Street home.
Again, in 2005, Leighton pushed new legislation to ban pit bulls from the entire city. At that time local police officials backed him, saying dogs were often kept by criminals, and were a danger to police officers. Both times it was Pennsylvania's law that prevented his efforts.
Blum is leading a campaign to oppose banning dog breeds from public parks stating â€œBreed-specific legislation is not the solution to a problem, but rather a means of punishing responsible pet owners and good dogs for the actions of a few dogs that were brought up in an inappropriate or abusive environment or improperly trained.â€
She is circulating petitions asking people to support the cause. She is asking all area residents to sign her petition which states BSL is wrong and asks for alternative changes in legislation like higher accountability of dog owners, public education and stricter enforcement of leash laws.
Copies of Blumâ€™s petition are available for the public to sign at the following area pet stores and grooming facilities:
Pet Supplies Plus, Scott Street
Tropic Pet Center, South Main Street
K9 Korner, Route 309;
Animal Buddies, East Walnut Street
Pet Wonderland, Blackman Street;
Pets-n-You, Kidder Street
Auntie Lizâ€™s Diamond in the Ruff, North Mountain Boulevard, Mountain Top
The entire petition is quoted below.
A Petition to Oppose Breed Ban in Wilkes-Barre
We, the undersigned, respectfully urge the city of Wilkes-Barre to seek alternate changes in legislation in regard to the proposed breed ban. We feel that the breed ban is drastic and unnecessary. We believe that there are other options available to consider that would be more effective in addressing this issue of the publicâ€™s safety brought about by the recent incidents of unleashed dogs and dog attacks.
This petition is to oppose the ban of any breed of dog. The recent incidents, however, were believed to have involved Pit Bulls, a breed that is often misidentified and because of such has received a negative connotation. The label of â€œPit Bullâ€ is often used incorrectly to generalize a large group of dogs/breeds that have similar physical characteristics of â€œPit Bullsâ€ but arenâ€™t in fact true Pit Bulls (e.g. American Bulldog, Boxer, Cane Corso, Tosa Inu etc.). The only breeds of dog to be true Pit Bulls are the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The APBT are a breed which is historically known to be extremely loyal, obedient, and friendly. How can breed specific legislation be implemented when the line between what is a Pit Bull and what looks like a Pit Bull is blurred to so many?
Although â€œPit Bullsâ€ are infamous for being involved in dog fights and for being very violent, these dogs are not innately driven to be vicious animals. Due to their large stature and strength these dogs, among with other dogs of various breeds and similar attributes, are being victimized and exploited for the sake of greed and a sort of twisted form of entertainment by those who are supposed to protect and care for these animals. These cases have not only hurt the animalâ€™s unfortunate enough to have been involved but have also given an unnecessarily bad reputation to the breed as a whole. Any breed of any animal can become violent if they are in an environment where theyâ€™re being mistreated or improperly trained.
As alternatives to the possible breed ban in the city of Wilkes-Barre, we propose higher accountability for not only pet owners but those interacting with these animals, as well as stricter enforcement of leash laws. It is important for the public to be educated about different breeds of dogs and to be informed and cautious if they encounter a stray, unleashed, or otherwise unaccompanied dog. People need not blindly fear any specific breed but rather have a rational understanding of possible dangers that could accompany any stray or wild animal. Better funding for local shelters can help educate the public and to control and care for the animal population. Animal shelters and rescue groups across the country are overcrowded and under funded and if this plan is put into effect it will create more problems than it solves by leaving more dogs without homes, especially those who are innocent and have been given the false label of â€œa bad dogâ€ or even â€œkillerâ€ based solely on their breed. All dogs are unique and we believe itâ€™s inhumane to hold such prejudice against an entire breed of dog as a basis for a proposed ban of the breed.
We live in an area (like many others) where we have had floods, drugs, murders, animal attacks, crimes against children, etc. and the public deserves to be and needs to be exposed to any threat or danger of any kind that may affect them in a way that informs not terrifies or causes panic. By affixing my signature, I would respectfully ask the city of Wilkes-Barre to review this petition, the support it shows, and consider favorably our proposal for alternative legislation.
So, any and all Wilkes-Barre residents who agree with Blum on the BSL issue please sign the petition and pass it to others. A copy of a printable form of the petition can be obtained from Blum by emailing her at Samantha.firstname.lastname@example.org.
For any citizen who disagrees with BSL please contact Mayor Thomas M. Leighton at 570-208-4158 or email him at: email@example.com, letters can be addressed to him at: Wilkes-Barre City Hall, 40 East Market Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
Please be respectful when contacting the mayor as anything less would negate the seriousness of your message. It is imparative the mayor hears from the public so kindly let him know if you are against BSL.
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Sources: Woman wants dogs to remain in parks
Wilkes-Barre police shoot, kill pit bull running loose on River Common
Reaction after pit bull shooting
Wilkes-Barre, PA: City to ask legislature for ability to pass BSL
Woman in favor of dog breed ban in park
Other info: Pit Bulls in America