Dog owners in four Arkansas cities have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the pit bull bans in Beebe, Jacksonville, Lonoke and North Little Rock.
The lawsuit claims the bans are unconstitutional because they're too vague and create an undue burden on dog owners to prove a dog's breed.
The lawsuit claims the bans also discriminate against a certain group of people and violate dog owners' due process because officials can seize your dog without notice or a hearing.
Phillip McCormack lives in Beebe, but his pit bulls live nearly 37 miles away. He says, “I didn't give them a chance to seize my dogs. I took them and got them outside of the city limits."
Like nine other Arkansas cities, Beebe has a ban on pit bulls. McCormack and the group, Responsible Owners of Arkansas Dogs, or ROAD, are only challenging bans in four central Arkansas cities.
"We could have brought in 100 witnesses if that's what they want. We just picked these four cities because when the case is heard in federal court, they will have jurisdiction over the entire state,” says ROAD founder and director Roger Schnyer.
McCormack says, “You can't do something because what one dog has done or what one owner's done to all the owners; that's discrimination."
ROAD plans to prove any breed specific ban is unconstitutional. Schnyer says, “It went from German shepherd to Doberman pincher to rottweilers and each one of them was supposed to be vicious horrible dogs; and it's just now the pit bulls turn."
Beebe has banned all vicious dogs and all pit bulls. “It doesn't mean that the people who write the ban are intelligent and knowing anything; and any law can be written; and it will stay on the book unit it is challenged," says Schnyer.
Beebe hasn't received notice of a lawsuit. City council member Becky Short says legal counsel has advised the city that the ban is legal. Short explains, “We have a city attorney that works with us very closely on the council and we never pass anything unless he has examined it.”
Short says public concern led to the ban, “All dogs aren’t vicious and some dogs are vicious and that’s just a breed."
Now a court will decide if that assessment is legal.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)