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‘Specific Laws’ ruled
unconstitutional for second time in US

AFTER A groundbreaking court ruling in Alabama last year, a second US court has ruled that Breed Specific legislation is unconstitutional.

The Washington Animal Foundation (WAF) which campaigns against BSL in the USA were instrumental in fighting a court case in New York that drew upon the Alabama ruling.

The case hinged upon BSL enacted by New York against Pit Bull Terriers, following a number of attacks by dogs said to be Pit Bulls.

The court ruled that the law is unconstitutional because it is in the nature of ex post facto (after the event) law and violative of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution in that it provides "…nor shall any person be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law".

The ruling also stated that in addition to the absolute bar on pit bulls, the law does not tell the reader (of the law) whether the village, its agents or assigns, have the power to confiscate the offending animals and if so, what compensation, if any, owners would afforded. This too runs foul of the Fifth Amendment.

The ruling continues: "The court does not accept the tortured legal argument presented by the prosecution in this case. The ‘pit bull’ law provides for an illegal prohibition against a particular breed and must stand on its own without connection to the ‘off leash’ charge. The argument of an alleged attack by the dog, thus suggesting it thereby became inherently dangerous, de hors the record; is collateral; unproven and irrelevant for our purposes here.

"Finally this local law, by barring a specific breed has also, in this courts opinion, run afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution which provides no State shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protest ion of the laws." That language of the Constitution must necessarily apply to Villages and other municipalities. Thus the defendants here would be afforded the unequal treatment of the laws if this local law is allowed to be selectively enforced against them and their dog.

"Accordingly, that portion of the local law regarding pit bulls is hereby struck down and severed as unconstitutional."

Poul Poulson of WAF hailed the New York ruling as a great victory for the anti-BSL movement and expressed the hope that other courts in other States would arrive at similar rulings.