Englewood, NJ (PRWEB) August 13, 2006
The American Dog Owners Association (ADOA) and two of its members, Natalie Wells and Mia Rodriguez, who reside in Englewood, New Jersey, were granted an interlocutory judgment against the City Of Englewood in New Jersey Superior Court this week in the challenge to overturn the city’s illegal breed specific ordinance, Docket No. BER-L-5285-06. Judge Jonathan Harris found that the city’s aggressive dog ordinance, which defined specific breeds of dogs as dangerous, was a clear and direct violation of state law, which explicitly prohibits breed discrimination. The American Dog Owners Association, the country’s largest independent dog owner’s organization, had asserted that the City of Englewood, New Jersey failed to provide its residents equal protection under the law by denying the residents’ applications to license their dogs and has subjected them to harassment.
“Breed discrimination is illegal in New Jersey, and now all good dog owners with good dogs in Englewood can breath a sigh of relief”, said Maureen Hill-Hauch, ADOA’s Executive Director. She noted that New Jersey’s Vicious and Potentially Dangerous Dog Act is one of the strongest dangerous dog laws in the country. “The City of Englewood has a duty to protect the public health and safety of all of its citizens, as well as protect the rights of responsible dog owners, regardless of breed. We’re so pleased that the court will require the City of Englewood to comply with state law”.
Breed bans and other breed-specific measures are strongly opposed by all major animal welfare and veterinary medical organizations, as well as the Center For Disease Control, as being ineffective against the prevention of dog bites or attacks. The list of New Jersey-based organizations opposed to breed specific laws and measures includes the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs and the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association.
The New Jersey Vicious and Potentially Dangerous Dog Act, N.J. S.A. S.S.4:19-36, explicitly prohibits breed discrimination, stating, “any law, ordinance, or regulation concerning vicious or potentially dangerous dogs, any specific breed of dog or any other type of dog inconsistent with this act enacted by any municipality, county or county board of health”.
The City of Englewood argued that it’s Ordinance N.99-66 did not violate N.J.S.A.S.S 4:19-26 by defining the following breeds as aggressive: Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, or “any dogs of mixed breed which has the appearance or characteristics of being predominately of the breeds”, and bans them from being kept within the City of Englewood.
Flora Edwards, counsel for the Plaintiffs, previously told the court that under the city’s illegal breed-specific ordinance, even Rufus, this year’s winner of Best In Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden, would be unwelcome in the City of Englewood, and his owners would run the risk of having the world’s top dog seized and impounded. Rufus, a Colored Bull Terrier, resides with his owners in Holmdel, New Jersey.
An interlocutory judgment was granted the Plaintiffs, the American Dog Owner’s Association, Natalie Wells and Mia Rodriguez, on Monday, August 7, by the Honorable Jonathan Harris in Bergen Country Superior Court against the City of Englewood. The order prevents the city from enforcing or implementing any section of the city’s dangerous dog ordinance. In his ruling, Judge Harris called Englewood’s Ordinance 66-99, “outright contradictory”.
Judge Harris cited numerous issues with the Englewood dog ordinance, stating that Ordinance N.66-99 shifts the burden of proof to the pet owner, changes the process by which a dog can be declared dangerous, and provides a different array of sanctions in conflict with state law. Furthermore, he stated that t not granting the judgment would subject the dogs to immediate seizure and cause the Plaintiff’s irreparable harm.
The Plaintiffs, Ms. Wells, a stock analyst, and the owner of Sentry, a twelve-year old American Pit Bull Terrier, and Ms. Rodriguez, a respected artist and owner of Cyrus, also a rescued American Pit Bull Terrier, say they both lived in fear that their dogs will be seized by the City of Englewood, and have been subjected to a pattern of harassment by the city’s Department of Health since trying to obtain licenses for their dogs. Both dogs are well cared for and well socialized, and pose no threat to the public.
“Now I can walk Cyrus in public and not worry the police will stop me”, said Ms. Rodriguez. Ms Rodriguez rescued her dog, Cyrus, as a puppy and helped nurse him back to health from a near-fatal bout with parvovirus with the help of donated services from a local veterinarian.
Ms. Wells, who suffers from lupus, is looking forward to visiting Englewood’s City Hall to obtain a license for Sentry. Ms. Wells bought a home in Englewood late last year and was unaware of the town’s breed specific ordinance. “Now I don’t have to worry the city will take my dog away”.
Barbara Haywood, ADOA’s volunteer communications coordinator, said that the American Dog Owner’s Association lawsuit has received tremendous support from dog organizations throughout the country as well as letters of official endorsement from dog clubs, notably the Bull Terrier Club of America, the parent club for the world’s top dog, Rufus, the colored Bull Terrier. The ADOA filed suit on behalf of its members, and actively sought other resident dog owners in Englewood with the breeds or mixes of breeds of dogs banned by the city to join the lawsuit free of charge.
The American Dog Owners Association, ADOA, founded in 1970, is the country’s largest independent dog owner organization representing individual dog owners, breeders, handlers, and dog clubs of all breeds, mixes and backgrounds. The American Dog Owners Association recognizes the special relationship between dogs and humans, and advocates for the protection and preservation of responsible dog ownership and education of the public about responsible dog ownership and strong dangerous dog legislation. On the web at http://www.adoa.org
Maureen Hill-Hauch 800-266-6233
Barbara Haywood 201-396-0974