Congratulations, dog lovers: The good guys have won in the village of Moreauville, Louisiana. Instead of beginning to round up Pit Bulls and Rottweilers on Dec. 1 for “further disposition,” the city council voted on Monday evening to repeal the ordinance that had sparked a nationwide backlash.
The story of Moreauville immediately seized national attention because of O’Hara Owens, a disabled girl with severe neck problems. O’Hara’s best friend is her Pit Bull, Zeus, and the law would have forced her family to either give the dog away to a family outside of the area or see him taken away by the village and euthanized. The story got picked up by CNN, The View, USA Today, and, well…. Dogster. Even by the time we wrote it up last week, the local government had become well aware that they had stepped in it. Alderman Penn Lemoine said those words that you almost never hear from politicians: “It was a mistake.”
Even so, some people doubted that the law would officially be repealed. Lemoine and his colleagues never said publicly that they would get rid of the law; only that the Dec. 1 deadline would not be enforced. As the deadline approached, Zeus was sent to stay with friends elsewhere, just to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
“Zeus has been separated from our family for 24 hours now because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” O’Hara’s mother Joanna Armand told local television station KALB. “Our family has been in complete chaos. The kids aren’t used to it. He’s not used to it. So, I’m excited to go get him, bring him home, and get everybody back to normal.”
On the “Saving Zeus” Facebook page, Armand expressed her joy at the repeal without hesitation or inhibition: “WE WON!!!! THE MOREAUVILLE VICIOUS DOG BAN IS REPEALED AND ABOLISHED!!!!! WHOOP!! WHOOP!!! IM GOING TO GET OUR BABY NOW!!!!!”
She also wrote that when she brought Zeus back in through the front door, her children reacted like it was Christmas morning. Who could blame them?
Instead of euthanizing specific breeds, Moreauville will enforce existing Louisiana law that will fine owners if their dogs are found wandering around off-leash or causing other problems. Mayor Timmy Lemoine claimed that the decision to repeal was made largely because of a legal threat by PETA. “We got a threat from PETA that said, if we didn’t repeal this ordinance, they had enough money to shut the Village of Moreauville down,” he told KALB. “I wasn’t going to be known as the mayor and shut the Village of Moreauville down because of this.”
Credit where credit is due. However, considering that PETA’s recent actions included abducting a man’s dog from his front porch and euthanizing her within three days, it still has a lot to make up for, even if its legal threat did help end the ban.
The truth is, there was a lot of pressure on Moreauville even without PETA, and much of the credit has to go to Joanna Armand for speaking out and supporting her daughter.
What does O’Hara Owens, the girl at the center of the controversy have to say about the way the story ended? “I get to have my best friend back,” she told KALB. Ultimately, that’s the ending that everyone wanted. Our congratulations to the Owens-Armand family and Zeus, and to the village of Moreauville for finally doing the right thing. Hopefully, we’ll see the same end to many more breed-specific laws just like this.
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