Dog owners in Williston, North Dakota are suing the city to end its “pit bull” dog ban

The city of Williston, North Dakota confiscated and impounded a 14 week old puppy named Duchess. When Duchess reunited with her person, Reannan Suckley, she was emaciated, covered in hot spots, had bloody stool, and had Giardia from defecating and eating in the same kennel for the six weeks she was in the custody of the city.

Reannan was charged with a Class B misdemeanor, labeling her a criminal all because she owned a puppy who had never bitten or harmed anyone.

This is just one of the disturbing stories we discovered when we investigated the seizure of dogs in the city of Williston. With our breed-specific legislation legal action fund, we’re funding a lawsuit on behalf of Reannan and other dog owners to sue the city and protect their rights.

No one should be forced from their home to keep their pet or make the agonizing decision to rehome their dog, with the only alternative being its seizure by the city.

Williston’s “pit bull” dog ban has been in effect since 1987. In that time, it has been arbitrarily enforced based on animal control officers’ subjective opinion of what constitutes a “pit bull.” Fines and charges vary and seem to impact underserved communities more negatively. This is consistent with what we know of breed-specific legislation – it is a way for officials  to enact discrimination against citizens.

Bans like this are known as breed-specific legislation or BSL. They often include a variety of dogs, not just those perceived to be “pit bulls.” We think BSL is the cruelest law pet owners can be subjected to and we are taking it head-on in a way that has never been done before. On behalf of dog owners, we have hired a national law firm well-versed in constitutional law that also has a thorough understanding of the canine genome.

It is our position that BSL violates the 5th and 14th amendments. Our claim survived a summary judgment in federal district court in Sioux City, IA. That case never went to trial, as the lawsuit prompted local officials to repeal the ban because they knew they were unlikely to prevail in court.

We hope officials in Williston, North Dakota end discrimination against dog owners.

We plan to help every dog owner affected by BSL, just like we’re doing in Williston and Council Bluffs, and just like we did in Sioux City. By the time we are done, no more families will have to live under the threat of breed-specific legislation.

Your donation will help us continue to fight discrimination against dog owners and keep dogs and people together.

Because all dogs and all people
are individuals.

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