- Associated Press - Sunday, July 6, 2014

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - A federal judge in Lake Charles has barred enforcement of a ban on pit bulls and pit bull look-alikes in the town of New Llano until she hears a challenge to the ordinance.

The lawsuit was brought by Victor and Christine Nelson, whose dog Mazzy was confiscated by town authorities.

U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi’s order Tuesday also let the Nelsons take Mazzy home.

Their lawsuit says the ordinance violates equal protection, property and due process rights by letting the town seize the dogs and put them to death.

“The state of Louisiana has a dangerous dog law,” Fred Kray, an attorney for the Nelsons, told the American Press (https://bit.ly/1rE8In0). “If a dog bites, a case is filed in district court. There has to be a hearing, and it goes before a judge. How can a dog that hasn’t done anything but look like a pit not have those same rights?”

Kray said Mazzy now has the same restrictions as a pit bull owned before the ordinance went into effect. The dog must be muzzled when outdoors, and the Nelsons must have $100,000 in liability coverage for the dog, post a $1,000 cash bond and display signs that say they have a “partial pit bull,” he said.

Christine Nelson said Mazzy has been home since Wednesday.

“I have no complaints,” she said. “But this was not just about bringing my dog home; this was about constitutional violations. There’s still that to be dealt with.”

The dog, boarded out of town for nine months, was showing signs of kennel stress, according to a court filing.

The ordinance passed in March 2013 bans “dogs that have the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of dogs known as Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier.”

The Nelsons moved to New Llano in August. After a DNA test indicated she is half American Staffordshire terrier, the town seized her under the ordinance.

Kray said a trial date will be set in August.


Information from: American Press, https://www.americanpress.com

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