West Virginia Supreme Court upholds pit bull law

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  January/February 2013:

CHARLESTON,  West Virginia––The West Virginia Supreme Court on January 14,  2013 affirmed the constitutionality of an ordinance prohibiting keeping pit bulls within the Town of Ceredo.

The West Virginia Supreme Court upheld the November 2009 convictions of pit bull keepers Steve Hardwick,  Sharon Nalley,  and Glenna Pelfrey,  who were each fined $162 plus court costs. Pelfrey did not appear for an appellate hearing,  but Hardwick and Nalley pursued an appeal aimed at overturning the Ceredo ordinance as “unconstitutional in that it is arbitrary and unreasonable.”

The West Virginia Supreme Court endorsed the finding of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Darrell Pratt “That each Defendant’s dogs are of the breed that is typically referred to generically as pit bull dogs,   which are aggressive by nature,  known as attack animals with strong massive heads and jaws,  and found to represent a public health hazard,”  and that the Ceredo ordinance “is legitimate,  specific,  rationally related to…the constitutional powers of the municipality to impose safety regulations to insure the health, protection and welfare of the citizens.”

The constitutionality of breed-specific legislation has also been upheld by state supreme court verdicts in Arkansas,  Colorado,  Florida,  Iowa,  Kansas,  Kentucky,  Maryland,  New Mexico,  Ohio,  Utah,  Washington,  and Wisconsin,  though the breed-specific laws that occasioned several of the verdicts were later weakened or repealed by legislative action.

The U.S. Supreme Court on February 19,  2008 declined to hear an appeal of a 2007 Ohio Supreme Court ruling which upheld a Toledo ordinance limiting possession of pit bulls to one per person,  and requiring that pit bulls be muzzled when off their home property.  The Toledo ordinance was repealed in 2010.

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