Since 2007, some dog lovers in Payette County have been in a pickle. The county’s code 5-5-11 banned “pit bulls,” making it illegal to own one of the dogs, often deemed dangerous.
On Tuesday, the city of Payette agreed to strip its version of that code and any other breed-specific references, prohibitions and restraints on its books as part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit with one Payette man. The city is the latest in southwest Idaho to change such ordinances, part of what appears to be a push by opponents of breed-specific ordinances. In December 2016, the city of Fruitland repealed its own similar code, and Payette County followed suit in early January. The city of Homedale on Tuesday also agreed to remove its breed-specific legislation.
Gary Scott in 2016 filed suit against the city, claiming the code, at the time recently updated by the city, was damaging not only to him, but to all pit bull owners. Scott’s service dog, Buddy, is a pit bull — under Payette law, his service dog title meant Scott was exempt from the total ban on the breed, but Buddy was labeled a “vicious dog service animal” despite no history of vicious behavior, according to the lawsuit.
Scott agreed to drop the lawsuit if the city did away with the code.
The city code stemmed from one that made it illegal for anyone in Payette County to own, buy or sell a pit bull within county limits (though those who already owned registered pit bulls prior to the law’s enactment were grandfathered in). Pit bull owners had to provide proof of rabies vaccination and sterilization, as well as microchip their dogs, pay an annual pit bull license fee and keep $1 million liability insurance. The dogs were required to be kept confined with a “pit bull dog” sign on the property. Any owners who did not comply put their dogs at risk of being impounded and destroyed. What’s more, any dogs exempt from the ban for any reason are still assumed to be dangerous.