SANDY Hundreds of people attended a City Council meeting here Tuesday to protest proposed breed-specific legislation concerning pit bull and rottweiler dogs and their mixes.
To roaring applause, the council voted to table the item until several issues can be addressed. The council wants to include veterinarians and trainers in further discussions and hopes to provide incentives for good dog owners, among other things.
The legislation, which has been in the works for six years, would restrict the breeds in question by requiring roofed dog runs, "beware of dog," signs, microchips and special licensing. It bans wild canines such as wolves and coyotes.
The proposed ordinance would also disallow dogs at public gatherings, public schools and worship services.
It was written in response to a spate of incidents involving pit bulls that attacked children or other animals.
Concerned residents told the council that breed-specific laws have proved ineffective. Laws should address owner responsibility and specific dogs, they said. Copies of non-breed-specific vicious dog laws from around the country were given to the council for consideration.
Muzzling and caging pit bulls and keeping them away from people will only make good dogs more vicious, said Sandy resident and rottweiler owner Matthew Ostrander.
Other community members said that irresponsible dog owners were unlikely to follow new rules, so only conscientious owners would be punished. Dog trainers, rescuers, veterinarians, realtors and private owners spoke.
The proposal was called asinine, ridiculous and paramount to racism.
Every seat in the council chambers was full and dozens also stood around the room and in the hall Tuesday night. Several times, crowd members waved their hands silently in support of the speakers rather than applauding, which council rules prohibit.
Prior to Tuesday's meeting, the Utah Humane Society, the National Canine Research Council and an online group of Sandy residents against BSL (breed-specific legislation) came out against the proposed ordinance. An online petition against the new rules also garnered around 800 signatures.