Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BSL Beat-down! Go Garfield!

Concerned Pit Bull parents in the city of Garfield came out in droves last night to defend their dogs in the face of a restrictive proposed Pit Bull ordinance that would have required high insurance, muzzling, special leashing requirements, among other things. I attended the meeting to introduce RPB to the council members and let them know that we are here to help educate and address responsible dog care and public safety concerns involving Pit Bulls and dogs in general in their city.

The breed specific legislation was defeated unanimously; in fact the Mayor made it known from the very start of the evening that they would defeat the BSL during this meeting. Regardless, even after the announcement was made, for 2 hours, the public was allowed to step up to the podium and talk about why they believed singling out Pit Bulls was the wrong way to address the very real public safety issue of dog attacks.

There was such a wide range of attendees speaking up for the breed. From NAIA, NJ Federation of Dog Clubs, and American Rottweiler Club reps, to dog trainers, to an adorable young boy who stood before the council and proclaimed his love for his Pit Bull - people from all over, not just Garfield, took to the mic and articulated many reasons why BSL is discriminatory, prejudiced, unfair, and ineffective.

I think my favorite part of the evening was when one councilman stated that this proposed Pit Bull ordinance was a "knee jerk reaction". After the deluge of emails, letters, phone calls, graphs, pictures, etc that rained down upon the council, they realized how misguided that knee jerk reaction actually was. And their eyes were opened. Someone on the council used the term "enlightened". How wonderful it was that not only did a bunch of people come together for the breed and make a difference, but the city council itself was open and willing to be educated and listen.

The point driven home to me was that our elected representatives need to hear from their constituents. They need to know what the public wants, and why they want it. If you don't want anti-Pit Bull laws cropping up in your city-county-state, GET INVOLVED. The city council of Garfield admitted that they had received bad information and had no idea that NJ's state law preempts any local law that would attempt to regulate specific breeds. Because concerned citizens spoke up, the council realized that not only was the proposed Pit Bull ordinance a bad idea from a practical standpoint, it was outright illegal.

I left the meeting feeling an overwhelming sense of pride at being part of the Pit Bull world. Here, people from all walks of life, with many different stories and experiences, came together to support a common goal: preservation of the rights of the breed we all love. Professionalism, courtesy, and gratitude were pervasive. It was obvious the city council was grateful and impressed by the caliber of the attendees, and they thanked everyone for sharing, educating, and for being involved in the process.

On May 27th, at 7pm, another meeting addressing animal welfare issues will take place. One subject will be how best to deal with the issue of dangerous dogs, enforcement of laws, and possibly drafting new laws that would target irresponsible behavior of HUMANS and not punish dogs based on what they happen to look like. Councilwoman Tana Raymond (who proposed the Pit Bull ordinance in the first place) will be in attendance and very strongly encouraged the public to attend and offer alternatives and feedback. She wants people in her city to be safe. Now, because of the input of many, she wants to help make them safe withOUT a breed specific ordinance. It is imperative that the public attend the May 27th meeting and help the Councilwoman and city of Garfield in their admirable mission of increased public safety.

RPB would specifically like to thank: Maryellen Errigo and Rufus (who was our Pit Bull spokesdog for the evening), Debbie Viney from Liberty Humane, Little Darling & Pin Ups for Pit Bulls (who sent a massive amount of information to the city council prior to this meeting), the American Dog Owners Association, Amanda Sheldon who organized the Prevent BSL In Garfield, NJ Facebook group and did wonders to keep people informed and bring everyone together to fight for the dogs, several concerned area residents who met me at the meeting to offer their support and voice their opposition to the ordinance (yo, Diana and Herminia!), and to everyone else who came out, spoke up, and MADE A DIFFERENCE! - thank you!


Suzi Riot said...

Way to go RPB! And kudos to the city council and community of Garfield. This community-based, coalition approach to dealing with animal welfare and dangerous dog issues is awesome. I hope this will serve as a model to other communities on how to positively and effectively deal with these issues.

cat147 said...

fantastic news!!! :)

smarock10 said...

Great Job to all that made this happening a resounding success story.

Robbin said...

My family and I would also like to personally thank the following people who helped us to fight these unfair, cruel, expensive, and ineffective dog laws: We would like to send the out-of-towners our tremendous gratitude and give everyone our many thanks! You’ve helped us to make a positive difference in the town of Garfield! Some of you, out-of-towners, drove to the meetings in Garfield despite the fact that it was a far distance to travel. My family and I, live over an hour and a half away! So, I commend you all for making the long trip up north, south, or east in order to help us fight BSL, and support the others! Thank you so much for your help! I'd also like to personally thank Amanda Sheldon, who attended every meeting, and for starting the wonderful and very informative Facebook group entitled, "Prevent Breed Specific Legislation in Garfield, NJ! In addition, thank you, Theresa Sarzynski, Rachel Castelino, Erica De Angelo, Jaymes Bedoe, and Jeff Coltenback for helping Amanda with the creation and maintenance of the group. Everyone has posted very helpful information in the group!

To everyone who took out the time from their busy schedules in order to write, and send letters and e-mails to the honorable Mayor Frank J. Calandriello & the city council members of Garfield, NJ, thank you for your time, energy, and efforts in writing to these legislators! We would also like to thank those of you who persistently called the township of Garfield in order to express your opposition to the unfair breed restrictions! In addition to the aforementioned people who helped us, we also like to personally thank the fans of the following two discussion forums: The Best Friend's Animal Society's Local NJ forum & Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog Campaign forum! My family and I applaud everyone who signed the two BSL petitions! We’d also like to thank you for sharing the links to my discussions in both forums in order to garner more signatures & help!

A couple of weeks ago, I sent several messages and e-mails to the multiple members and organizers of several Pit Bull, Bully Breed, and other dog meet up groups at In these messages, I informed several, wonderful meet up group organizers, assistance organizers, and their hundreds of members about the matter. I also sent these messages to my Facebook friends, who own pit bulls, and other similar dog breeds. Within a very short amount of time, I got back countless empathetic replies to most of my messages. Most of the meet up group members, and my Facebook friends, who are pit bull owners, lovers, and advocates themselves, signed the petitions. In addition, and much to my pleasant surprise, these meet up group members & Facebook friends also garnered even more signatures! Thank you all for your tremendous support! I hope I'll never have to return the favor because BSL is obviously a terrible thing for any dog, responsible dog owner, and/or tax paying citizens. No one would want their town, county, or state to be negatively affected by BSL! However, if that day should come, and BSL is proposed in your area or neighboring area, my family and I would be more than happy to return the favor! We would do everything we could in order to return the favor(s)!

Before we go, my family and I, our American Pit Bull Terrier & Pit Bull mix included, would like to thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts for caring, and for fighting this terrible injustice known as breed specific legislation!!! Thank you for also realizing that BSL is everyone's problem as opposed to a simple local/state problem! We’re not sure that we could have accomplished any of our positive accomplishments/achievements without you or have won this battle against breed specific legislation! YOU'RE KINDNESS, COMPASSION, THOUGHTFULNESS, & MANY EFFORTS WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!!!

Mr. & Mrs. Brian and Robbin Perry & Daughter

diana said...

I felt as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders after that meeting. I was almost in tears. So thankful to all the pible lovers who came so prepared to fight this nonsense. My favorite part was when one of the council members said that he knows some people that should be muzzled before pitbulls.. I could not agree more!!!

matt said...

glad to hear the outcome!