Target: Lucy Vinis, Mayor of Eugene, Oregon
Goal: Do not ban dogs from Eugene’s downtown area.
Dogs cannot stay or walk anymore in the 12-block area of downtown Eugene, a mid-sized town in the state of Oregon. City authorities claim that the dog ban is intended to address public safety concerns. However, the legislation has been criticized for not only locking out inoffensive animals but also excluding homeless people and limiting citizens’ right to come and go. Eugene is another clear example of how urban space is getting increasingly commodified. It is necessary to state that veiled prejudice against people and animals should not be tolerated and that cities should be accessible to everyone.
Eugene is dominated by the activities of the University of Oregon and has flourished in the past years. There are intense efforts to revitalize the downtown area, with public and private money invested in businesses and facilities filled with students, shoppers, buskers, and regular citizens. With the rise of gentrification, a concern with public safety has followed and isolated incidents of criminal behavior and dog fights have been used to justify a shutdown of the perimeter to undesired human beings and animals. While police K-9 dogs, dogs kept in cars, service dogs, and dogs owned by people who live and work at a permanent address within the area are exempt from the ban, there are still many other animals that are unfairly subjected to it.
According to a study by the Seattle University School of Law, up to 25 percent of homeless people own a pet. To these people, a pet means protection, a family, a reason to live and get up every day, and even a path to sanity and sobriety. Since there is no foot traffic outside the downtown perimeter and, therefore, no other area to raise some pennies, homeless people in Eugene are faced with the choice of moving to another city or abandoning their pets. For those residents who own a dog but do not have a permanent downtown address, the ban means the limitation of their right to come and go. Sign the petition to have this ban immediately lifted and a city that welcomes everyone.
Dear Ms. Vinis,
I urge you to immediately lift the ban against dogs in the downtown perimeter of Eugene. The recent legislation that prohibits unauthorized dogs from circulating in the 12-block core area of your town is nothing but a gentrification effort that pushes out homeless people and unfairly affects harmless animals. It is well-known that Eugene has gone through a revitalization process in the past years and I see the canine ban as a veiled way to exclude part of the population from enjoying the urban area.
I should also add that the prohibition disrespects the citizens’ right to come and go in peace. If you are concerned with alleged higher numbers of complaints to the police originating from the downtown area, I assure you that punishing vulnerable populations, constituents, and poor animals is not a way to fix it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Alessandro Zangrilli