Friday, January 23, 2009

Dog Owners Stand Up to Abuse of Power In Sioux City, Iowa

First Blue Dog State Feist Award Ever!
Dog Owners Stand Up to Abuse of Power in Sioux City, Iowa Image Hosted by Just say no to intimidation Rick and Deborah Borg, pit bull-owning residents of Sioux City, Iowa, spoke out against Sioux City's breed ban and testified against it during city council meetings. They encouraged their friends to do likewise.

In other words, they took part in the democratic process.

City officials, apparently, mailed threatening letters, drafted a "hit list" that sent Animal Control officers to some dog owners' homes to check if the dogs had been licensed and took other actions against residents that testified against the proposal.

Unequal enforcement of the law is a bad, bad thing

By its own admission, Sioux City's dog licensing compliance rate is only 10 - 15%. Unlicensed dogs are NOT a "pit bull" thing in Sioux City.

Wise public servants struggle against the mere appearance of retaliatory tactics and negative profiling of segments of their own constituencies.

Letter to Des Moisnes

The Borgs wrote to William Angrick, ombudsman for the State of Iowa:

"We would like to have your agency investigate this matter and a report be issued including any recommended remedial action."

Good. Let's hope the Borg letter touches off all kinds of remedial action.

May I have the envelope, please?

Meanwhile, Blue Dog State offers its first ever Feist Award to Rick and Deborah Borg. Go forth and take no shit, Rick and Deborah.

Running a close second for the award, by the way: just about the entire State of Montana. Rep. Robyn Driscoll's fear-based and uneducated proposal to ban "pit bulls" from the State of Montana met with the overwhelming scorn it deserved during a hearing at the state capital.

In attempting to defend her proposal, Driscoll dragged out that miserable piece of Humane Society of the United States mythology: "The vast majority of people that are attracted to pit bulls are attracted to the macho reputation of the animal as a living weapon."

Driscoll's proposal required the death of any dog accused of being an unregistered pit bull in the State of Montana.

And Driscoll thinks pit bulls are living weapons???


What does she see when she looks in the mirror? _______________________________________________

[original post date of following article: November 24, 2008]

Persecution of Pit Bull Owners Public servants retaliate against breed ban opponents Participation in the democratic process lands dog owners on the shit list Fear and loathing in Sioux City, Iowa Earlier this year Sioux City, Iowa joined the list of pathetic U. S. municipalities that allow hysteria and political pandering to drive public policy. Sioux City showed that negative profiling is alive and well in the heartland when it moved to ban "pit bulls". Mocha, the pup pictured above, isn't welcome anymore. Incredibly, if members of Mocha's family went to a town council meeting and testified against the breed ban -- exercised their right to freedom of speech, in other words -- they unwittingly made themselves a target for special, selective attention from the city clerk's office, and animal control. Sioux City? Not pet-friendly.

Sioux City already required cat licensing, and it has a limit law in place that allows residents a maximum of two dogs per household. Anti-pet and anti-pet owner ordinances are traditional, it seems. Owners of Sioux City dogs accused of criminal pit bull resemblance, and unable to prove that their dog is NOT a pit bull, have ten calendar days to find a way to get their dogs out of the city. That's assuming the dog owner can afford the impoundment fees and other costs associated with seizure, impoundment and prosecution on charges of looking like a pit bull. Because the first thing the city does is take the dog away from his or her owner. If owners don't have the cash, or don't have a place outside the city limits to stash the dog, then Sioux City will kill him. Or her. Heartless in the heartland: "pit bulls" are born guilty Alleged pit bulls are presumed guilty of the crime of being a "pit bull." The burden of proof lands on the dog owner -- who must somehow "prove" to the city manager's satisfaction that their dog is not a "pit bull." Good luck with that, owners of short-haired, medium-to-large, mixed breed or otherwise unpedigreed dogs. Cause you're fresh out of "proof." It doesn't exist. Putting the squeeze on veterinarians The AVMA veterinarian's oath doesn't include becoming a tool in the extermination of innocent dogs. Local vets balked at making breed determinations that will cause the deaths of their patients, and they're beginning to bail on the city's licensing program. We want to take care of the animals --we don't want to I.D. the ones that are supposed to be banned," said [Dr. David] Ray. Lesson learned: Vets involved in law enforcement are gonna have trouble sleeping at night when collaborating with animal control becomes unethical. Push came to shove pretty quickly in Sioux City.

Will Sioux City vets betray their clients' faith and trust? Or will they disengage themselves from breed profiling?

City clerk collects names, addresses

Elected officials in Sioux City have been going around, taking names.

The names and addresses of residents who testified before the city council against the breed ban were databanked by the city clerk's office. 28 households received an intimidating letter from the city clerk threatening them with a $750 fine for failure to license their dogs.

Only people who testified against the breed ban got a letter, even though--by its own admission--Sioux City's license compliance rate is a dismal 10 - 15%.

Chilling effect on the democratic process?

Ya think???

Sioux City's elected officials apparently thought that abuse of power is okay if the victims are just pit bull owners. Maybe they thought no one would care what happens to drug dealers and gangbangers like Mocha's owners.

But trying to shut down opposition through selective enforcement of the law is a recipe for tyranny.

The Iowa State Constitution includes a Bill of Rights. Section 20 reads. . .

The people have the right freely to assemble together to counsel for the common good; to make known their opinions to their representatives and to petition for a redress of grievances.

So what the hell happened in Sioux City? What were Mayor Mike Hobart and City Manager Paul Eckert thinking?

Rights and liberties in Sioux City

In Iowa, cities with a population in excess of 29,000 people -- like Sioux City -- are required to maintain an independent local civil and human rights agency.

The Sioux City municipal code includes a human rights section, and the Sioux City Commission on Human Rights in on 6th Street.

Dog lovers in Sioux City need to have a conversation with the Human Rights Commission.

Abuse of power, retaliation, intimidation. . .is the daily dose for pit bull owners.

But that don't make it right. I'm not okay with any of this, and I'm betting plenty of Sioux City residents aren't either.

1 comment:

Ken Chiacchia said...

I don't know what to say. I'm still trying to figure out how the Bill of Rights becomes abrogated when you buy a dog. The dog's rights, my rights as her owner -- take your pick. No way this is due process.

I've said it before: I shudder at the thought of what monsters must lurk behind the eyes of those who project such vast evil on an animal. I've gotta link to this entry -- every little bit helps.