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Federal judge issues injunction on pit bull ban

Last Modified: Saturday, July 05, 2014 3:41 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

A New Llano couple who took legal action over the town’s pit bull ban took their dog home earlier this week after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the ban.

The injunction, issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi, prevents the ban from being enforced until after the trial. And it allows Victor and Christine Nelson, who filed suit against the town in April, to take their dog, Mazzy, home.

The American Press reported in May that the lawsuit claims the town’s “ban on pit bulls and dogs that look like pit bulls, along with the town’s ability to seize and euthanize the dogs, violates their equal protection, property and due process rights.”

“The state of Louisiana has a dangerous dog law,” said Fred Kray, an attorney for the Nelsons. “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 and attorney Stacy Palowsky, who also represents the Nelsons, said they were happy with the injunction. Kray said Minaldi “made a very intelligent and fair ruling to both sides.”

“I thought it was the right decision, given all the law we cited,” he said. “She was careful in letting the dog go home, and the town’s interest in public safety was served.”

Kray said Mazzy now has the same restrictions as a pit bull that is grandfathered in. He said 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.”

Christine Nelson said they took Mazzy home Wednesday, and that she was pleased with the decision.

“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 New Llano Town Council passed the ordinance in March 2013. It bans “dogs that have the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of dogs known as Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier.”

The Nelsons moved to the town in August. The town banned Mazzy in September after a DNA test found her to be 50 percent American Staffordshire terrier.

Before going home, Mazzy was boarded out of town for nine months and showed signs of kennel stress, according to a court filing.

Kray said a trial date will be set in August.

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