On October 22nd, the Prince George’s County Council voted to keep its 22-year-old pit bull ban in place, sealing the fate of hundreds of innocent dogs over the next year until we can resume the fight during the 2020 council session.
Just a week before this vote, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee had unanimously approved an amendment that would have repealed the ban. However, during the council meeting on the 22nd, councilmembers Mel Franklin (At-Large) and Jolene Ivey (District 5) introduced a new amendment to revoke the repeal of the breed ban that was moving through the council.
Councilmember Franklin complained during the hearing that he had not heard from experts on this issue. Meanwhile, sitting in front of the him were nearly 50 Prince George's County residents with an incredible amount of expertise, including a dog bite expert, community leaders, animal control officers, educators, and volunteers from Prince George's Animal Services. These residents took time out of their day to attend the hearing so they could speak in support of the repeal, but they were not allowed to do so. Franklin dismissed their presence as “activists from outside the county” – an incredible insult to the people who elected him to office.
The council’s decision was a huge blow to the supporters, volunteers, and staff members of the Humane Rescue Alliance. We fought incredibly hard over the last year to end the ineffective, costly, and discriminatory breed ban – which has caused the deaths of thousands of dogs whose only offense was being born with certain features. Many of our staff are Prince George’s County residents who spend every day caring for the many pit bull-type dogs who come through our shelter doors. The 400 dogs euthanized last year in the county are indistinguishable from HRA’s dogs, the ones we adopt out into loving homes every day of the year.
We accept as many pit bull-type dogs as we can from Prince George’s county, while also providing much-needed services to county pet owners, including low-cost and free spay/neuter services. Beyond that we receive calls every day from county residents looking for support for their dogs because they are afraid to ask for help in their own county.
Councilmember Franklin can try to dismiss us as outsiders, but Prince George’s County is part of our community and through our staff members, volunteers, donors, and adopters we are part of Prince George’s County. Rest assured HRA will continue to work to ensure that the region we serve is safe and humane for all the people and animals who call it home.
We applaud the efforts of Council Chairman Todd Turner (District 4) and Councilmembers Derrick Leon Davis (District 6), Sydney Harrison (District 9), and Dannielle Glaros (District 3), who listened to their constituents and advocated for families over fear mongering.
Last week’s hearing was the first day of our renewed fight. We are continuing to partner with a strong network of local and national organizations, including the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George’s County, the Humane Society of the United States, and Best Friends Animal Society, but we can’t get this done without you.
The month of October is recognized as National Pit Bull Awareness Month and the greatest gift we can offer these dogs is giving them a chance to live.