[ SHOWGSD-L ] ALERT!!-Sumter County SC Council Meeting (PERMISSION TO CROSSPOST)

  • From: "Ginger Cleary" <cleary1414@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Showgsd-L@Freelists. Org" <showgsd-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 02:43:34 -0400

 Ginger Cleary,Rome, GA  ww.rihadin.com <http://www.rihadin.com>
The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human
hands, will ever be liable to abuse. ? James Madison
Member GSDCA
Member Sawnee Mtn Kennel Club
GA Director Responsible Dog Owners of the Eastern States.

-----Original Message-----

I attended the first reading of two dog-related proposals currently  before
Sumter County(South Carolina)Council, both being pushed by  Councilman Gene
Baten, a piece of work if ever I've seen one.  Both  are his solution to
combat dog-fighting in the country, spurred on by  the recent high-profile
busts of dog-fighting in the county and  nearby counties, and the Michael
Vick case.  His solution is to limit  a person to keeping no more than five
American Pit Terriers over the  age of three months, requiring anyone who
has more than one of any  dog known as a "pit bull" to have a breeder's
license(there is  currently no such thing in Sumter County or the state of
South  Carolina, so a whole new set of rules would have to be drawn up just
for that), which is contingent upon having a business license, EVEN  IF NONE
OF THE DOGS ARE INTACT or used for breeding!  He wants to  extend that
requirement even to anyone who does Pit Bull rescue!

Maintaining a license to keep/breed Pit Bulls would also mean that  the
individual would be forced to submit to random property searches  by law
enforcement, namely, the Sumter Co. Sheriff's Dept., without a  search
warrent or probable cause, simply so that the deputies could  act as kennel
inspectors and determine that the dogs were properly  contained and not used
for fighting!  Yes, you read that right,  folks.

He also wants to impliment a separate version of the state's
non-breed-specific Dangerous Animal Act so that anyone with even ONE  Pit
Bull or American Pit Bull Terrier would automatically have to  register it
as a "dangerous or vicious" animal with the county, pay  an additional
Dangerous animal fee, and follow up with all the  requirements for the
keeping of a dangerous animal that the state  imposes, only based on breed
alone, something that the state law  specifically says is NOT to be used as
a crition for determining if  an animal is dangerous.  Mr. Baten kept
insisting that he "loves all  dogs" and is only doing this in the interest
of the poor Pit Bulls (more of that "kill'em all for their own good"
mentality, a 'la  PETA), since they are the most frequent target of animal
abusers, and  by limiting how many a person can have, making it difficult to
breed  or sell them, or bring any into the county, he's doing them a big
favor by keeping them out of the hands of dogfighters!

He is  absolutely convinced that making it difficult to obtain/keep certain
dogs is the way to prevent a HUMAN activity from taking place.  When  I got
the chance to speak with him, he kept cutting me off,  insinuating that he
couldn't fathom why an intelligent woman like  myself would want to put
these dogs into the hands of dogfighters,  unless it was because I was
profiting from the activity myself!  When  I told him that if someone waved
a magic wand today and every Pit  Bull on the planet disappeared, the
dogfighters would just keep  switching to other breeds, he made it perfectly
clear by repeatedly  stating that when that happened, he'd just keep adding
those other breeds to the list of restricted dogs, and that every time an
incident with a dog biting someone or attacking another animal or  human was
made public, THAT breed would be added, too, if it wasn't  a "pit bull"
already.  When I asked him what he intended to do when  EVERY dog wound up
on the list, he insisted that if that were the  case, ALL DOGS would be
restricted, ALL DOG BREEDERS, ALL OWNERS of  up to five dogs-would be placed
under the same restrictions that he  currently proposes for "pit bulls".  He
also made the public comment  that "nobody can take care of more than five
dogs of any kind,  anyway, let alone 15 or 20 or so dogs" and that anyone
who had that  many dogs HAD to be involved in illegal activities! The guy is
clearly a nut-case, plain and simple, though he wants to do it for  the good
of the dogs, of course.

He was not interested in hearing of  cases in which BSL singling out any one
breed of dog has been struck  down as unconstitutional by any other state's
Supreme Court-as he  told the lawyer present, when informed that BSL had
been recently  found unconstitutional by Ohio's Supreme Court, he replied,
"This is  NOT Ohio or Ohio's Supreme Court, this is Sumter, South Carolina!"
He basically could care less about the Constitution of the United  States,
and plainly told me that it WAS the business of government to  protect the
people from themselves, whether they liked it or not!

Fortunately, there are some bright spots, and it is clear that not  everyone
on the Council agrees with Mr. Baten.  One of these bright  spots is the
County Chairwoman, Ms. Vivian Fleming McGhaney.  This is  a woman of common
sense, something so lacking in many politicians and  public office-holders
these days.  She voiced a great deal of concern  over the legality and
constitutionality of the proposal, and was on  record as believing it to
unfairly target a particular dog and dog  owners who were not involved with
dogfighting, despite Mr. Baten's  insistance that anyone who had multiple
Pit Bulls HAD to be either  fighting them, or knowingly selling them to
dogfighters.  She stated  that she had close friends who had several Pit
Bulls, that were very  sweet, well-mannered dogs, and she herself used to
own a Pit Bull.   She also stated that in the right circumstances, ANY dog
could be a  dangerous dog, and had problems with the part of the Dangerous
Animal  proposal that even a dog that chased other animals, like cats, would
be classified as dangerous.  As she put it, "Every child knows that  dogs
chase cats!"  She just seems to be a very reasonable person, and  I intend
to call her personally and speak with her to let her know  how much I
appreciate her common sense approach.  There were two  other Council members
who were also very concerned about the  proposal, and like her, they felt
that existing state and Federal
 laws, if enforced, would go about as far towards putting a dent in
dogfighting as is possible to do, without targeting any one or more
breeds/types.  They were Arthur Baker and James Byrd.  Both realized  also,
that by putting such restrictions on one breed or type of dog,  you leave
the door open to eventually eliminate ALL dogs in the  county, which is
exactly what Mr. Baten said he intended to do if it  became known that other
dogs were being used for fighting or were  attacking people.  I spoke with
both of those gentlemen after the  meeting, and neither of them supported
the proposal, though there are  several Council members who are undecided at
this point.

Mr. Baten also kept quoting someone from the HSUS that he'd seen on tv
(probably Goodwin or Pacelle)that former fighting dogs could not be
rehabilitated, so that any dog that had been exposed to that would  have to
be destroyed, no if's and's or but's.  When I tried to tell  him that
"Humane Society" of the United States was an animal rights  organization
that was committed to abolishing ALL animal ownership,  period, he obviously
thought I was an idiot.  I told him that they  did not maintain shelters or
rescue animals and had no affiliation  with the local humane societies at
all, but I could tell by his  expression that he didn't believe one word,
and had no clue  what "animal rights" vs. "animal welfare" meant.

The proposal passed first reading, only because in the second  reading, it
can be given a public hearing.  Public hearings are NOT  required for
legislation of this type, under county rules, but Ms. McGhaney insisted that
it be given one, due to the sensitive nature  of the proposals.  The public
hearing and second reading of the  proposal will be held on August 14, at 6
pm, instead of two weeks  from today, so that the news paper can have time
to alert the public  who might wish to attend.  You can bet that HSUS and
local AR folks will be represented.  I know that Councilman Baker did get
the packet  of information from RDOWS, but he had not had time to share it
with  other members, but I will need any and all who can show up, to do so.
It's not going to look good for responsible dog owners if only  one person
shows up who is opposed to this mess.

That date again is  August 14, on a Tuesday, at 6 pm, in the Sumter County
Administration  Building.  I can provide phone numbers and directions to
anyone  interesting in attending.  If you cannot attend, but have contacts
within any of the local kennel clubs, like Columbia or Greenville,  PLEASE
let them know, since we all know that legistlation like this  tends to
spread like wildfire, as we've seen in Arkansas and  Mississippi recently.
Mr. Baten has made it clear that he WILL add other breeds, as he sees a need
to do so, so this is NOT just  about "Pit Bulls" or look-alike dogs.  He
told me to my face that if  he had put restrict every known breed of dog in
Sumter County, he was  willing to do so!

Sharon McKenzie

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