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Tag: breed specific legislation

Another pit bull ban that didn’t work — at least when it comes to reducing dog bites


In 2005, Ontario passed a law designed to purge the province of pit bulls.

“Over time, it will mean fewer pit bull attacks and, overall, fewer attacks by dangerous dogs,” attorney general Michael Bryant told the Ontario legislature back then.

Time has proved him wrong — at least in Toronto.

The number of dog bites has been rising since 2012, and in 2013 and 2014 reached their highest levels this century, even as pit bulls neared extinction, according to a report in Global News.

It’s just the latest evidence that pit bull bans don’t work.

160219_dog_tableUnder the Ontario law, pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers — and any dog who had that pit bull “look” — had to be kept muzzled or leashed in public and get sterilized within two months of the bill’s passage.

The law allowed those who already owned pit bulls to keep them under those conditions, but breeding pit bulls, or bringing them into the province, was outlawed.

If you owned a pit bull type dog, and it was born after the law went into effect, your dog was — and still is — subject to being sent out of the province or euthanized.

Ten years after the law’s passage, most of those grandfathered pit bulls are dead or dying.

There were only 338 registered in Toronto in 2014, down from 1,411 in 2005.

By the year 2020, pit bulls are expected to no longer exist in the Canadian province.

But the law’s primary desired effect — cutting down on dog attacks and dog bites — clearly hasn’t been achieved.

In 2004, 567 dog bites were recorded in the city. Reports indicate 86 of those bites came from dogs designated as pit bulls. The only breed with more was German Shepherds, with 112 reported bites.

In 2014, there were 767 dog bites in Toronto — only 19 of them by pit bulls.

In 2014, German shepherds were involved in most of the city’s dog bites, and Labrador retrievers had moved up into second place.

Nobody has proposed outlawing them — at least not yet.

(Photo: Chart from globalnews.ca; photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Nevada anti-breed discrimination law signed

A pit bull who was seized from a notorious dogfighting operation in Virginia, rehabilitated in Utah, and adopted by a couple in Texas helped make the case for a new law in Nevada that prohibits local governments from enacting and enforcing regulations that deem a dog dangerous based solely on its breed.

Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the anti-breed discrimination law this week, and it takes effect Oct. 1, 2013.

Assembly Bill 110, which was sponsored by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall and spearheaded Best Friends Animal Society, also got a push from our friend Mel, the former Michael Vick dog who now lives in Dallas. Richard Hunter, Mel’s new owner, testified before the Nevada Senate to show support.

“Best Friends is proud that Nevada has taken steps to prevent breed discrimination,” said Ledy VanKavage said, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends. “Every American who follows the right safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog they choose.”

Nevada is the the 14th state to pass a law preventing breed discrimination, Best Friends said.

“Assembly Bill 110 bans breed discriminatory laws from being enacted anywhere in Nevada,” said Assemblyman Ohrenschall.

He added, “I’m confident that this law will benefit dogs, dog owners and animal lovers throughout our great state. It has always been bad public policy to enact ordinances that target a certain breed of dog without considering that individual dog’s actions.  I’m proud of sponsoring this legislation because it will help keep our innocent friends from being killed needlessly and senselessly.”

Best Friends received and rehabilitated most of the dogs seized from the dogfighting operation at Michael Vick’s former estate in Virginia, including Mel, who was believed to have been used as a bait dog.

“Our fundamental goal is to achieve safe and humane communities. We want our communities to be protected against dangerous dogs – and we want abused dogs to be protected from irresponsible owners,” VanKavage said. “Because everyone benefits from a safe society – both people and pets.”

Studies done in countries with breed-discriminatory laws, such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, found that these laws didn’t reduce the number of dog bites or improve public safety. Based on these studies, and concerns about due process and property rights infringement, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Control Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association don’t support breed discrimination, Best Friends said in a press release.

“They support laws that go after the real problem–the behavior of the individual dog and the behavior of the reckless owner.”

Through its national pit bull initiatives, Best Friends Animal Society encourages state and municipal governments to adopt breed-neutral “dangerous dog” laws that focus on the key causes of dog aggression—owners’ failure to spay or neuter, train and socialize dogs regardless of breed, or because they abuse or neglect dogs or force them to live on chains.

(Photo: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

A parade of pit bulls, prompted by pride

If you happen to be strolling around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Sunday and run into a pack of pit bulls, fear not — they are there to make friends, influence people, and lick away any misconceptions you may have about the breed.

B-More Dog, the organization behind “Pit Bulls on Parade,” plans to make group walks like Sunday’s a monthly event, held in various parts of the city — all aimed at erasing the stereotypes surrounding the breed.

While all breeds are welcome, dogs must be signed up in advance to take part in the parades. So while it’s too late to get your dog into Sunday’s, you can find out about participating in next month’s by emailing bmoredog@gmail.com.

To check out Sunday’s parade, show up around the Inner Harbor at 11 a.m.

Pauline Houliaras, a founding member and current president of B-More Dog, came up with the idea for the parade after noticing how often she’d be stopped and asked about the dogs she was walking. Her own dog, Ravenopolis, she found, often got greeted on walks around the harbor by tourists and locals alike, who’d stop to ask questions and pet the dog.

Taking the concept to the next level, B-More Dog organized groups of pit bull owners to walk together and spread goodwill about the breed. Then they decided, rather than just do it once a year, to try and parade pit bulls every month.

B-More Dog is an outreach and education organization that formed in the fall of 2007 to speak out against breed specific legislation being proposed in Baltimore County. That legislation, which would have required all pit bull owners to muzzle their dogs and confine them in locked kennels, was not passed.

Since then, B-More Dog has gone on to focus on improving the breed’s image and promoting responsible ownership of pit bulls and all other breeds through education, mentoring, and outreach.

Its members work with local shelters to provide information packets about the breed to adopters. B-More Dog also offers a “Humane Education” program in which members take their friendly, trained and well-mannered pit bull to community centers and after-school programs.

Amendment would bar breed bans in Md.

Delegate Cheryl Glenn will introduce an amendment to the state’s proposed dangerous dog law this week that would prohibit municipalities from banning or regulating dogs based on their breed.

Pushed by the Maryland Dog Federation, the proposed amendment to House Bill 1314, aimed at strengthening the state’s dangerous dog law,  reads:

“Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to prevent a municipality from adopting or enforcing its own more stringent program for the control of dangerous dogs provided, however, that no such program shall ban, regulate or address dogs in a manner which is specific as to breed.”

The federation says the amendment will prohibit laws thats discriminate against particular breeds of dogs. Similar measures have been passed in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and eight other states.

If approved the proposed amendment would void the current breed ban in Prince George’s County, where about 900 pit bulls and pit bull mixes are euthanized a year, according to the federation.

“The seizing of innocent family pets simply because of their appearance is unconscionable. Responsible dog guardians should be allowed to own whatever breed they want. Reckless owners should be prohibited from owning any dog,” the federation said.

The federation is encouraging those who support the amendment to write Delegate Cheryl Glenn (cheryl.glenn@house.state.md.us); and to attend the March 18 hearing of the Judiciary Committee (at 1 p.m. in Room 100 of the House Office Building in Annapolis).

DNA testing saves dog from execution

petdnaIt took a DNA test to prove it, but Angie Cartwright — who lives in a town that bans pit bulls — has certified that her dog Lucey is only 12 percent bully breeds, and now she has her back.

Lucey had never bitten anyone; nor had she ever acted aggressively, according to the Salina Journal in Kansas. But she was scooped up by animal control officers.

The officers explained that they were taking Lucey to a veterinarian for a breed check — a professional opinion (meaning veterinarian’s guess) to determine Lucey’s breed.

Since 2005, Salina has had a ban on owning unregistered pit bulls and mixed breeds that are predominantly pit bull.

Cartwright got approval to have her vet conduct DNA breed analysis test, ther results of which led to the return of her dog.

The blood test found that a minor amount of Lucey’s DNA came from Staffordshire bull terrier genes — just over 12 percent.

“Maybe this can save someone’s animal, hopefully,” Cartwright said. Read more »

WWII hero works to bring service dogs to vets

irwin_old_smA World War II veteran who was held for a year in a Nazi prisoner camp has made it his mission to help supply wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service dogs.

Irwin Stovroff, the subject of a recent Fox News report, has raised nearly $2 million dollars to help train and match up service canines with wounded combat vets.

The 85-year-old resident of Boca Raton, Fla., is also pushing lawmakers for federal funding to finance the program.

“It is a shame.” Stovroff says about the lack of an official federal program that pairs up battle-injured veterans with guide and therapy animals that can greatly improve their rehabilitation. “I wanted to do something about it.”

irwin_young_smallStovroff, the recipient of a Distinguished Flying Cross, was shot down behind enemy German lines on his 35th bombing flight. He threw his dogs tags away before his plane crashed to hide his Jewish faith from his captors.

Stovroff says dogs can help the injured soldiers in a number of ways.

“The dog can become his eyes. He can become his legs. He can bring him anything he needs.” Stovroff said.  “A dog is probably the best thing that can happen to these soldiers … They need a guide (but) they need the help and love of a dog as well.”

(Photos courtesy of Intimesofwar.us)

Pit bull documentary goes “Beyond the Myth”

The roots of “Beyond the Myth,” an independent documentary about the plight of pit bulls, go back to when Libby Sherrill was a student in graduate school at the University of Tennessee.

What was her senior project is now a nearly-finished product — a documentary that looks at pit bulls and the people who love and defend them.

The film explores the factors behind the public’s fear of pit bulls and examines the conflict existing between advocates and opponents of breed specific legislation. It also investigates the myths associated with the breed and asks the question, “What exactly is a pit bull”?

To see a trailer, click here.

Sherrill left an eight-year career with HGTV to write, direct and produce her self-financed film debut, and is now hoping to enter “Beyond the Myth” in film festivals.

“Beyond the Myth” challenges the idea that pit bulls are inherently vicious and goes one-on-one with people on both sides of this controversial issue, according to the documentary’s website.

A pit bull owners herself, Sherrill is against breed specific legislation, such as that passed in Ohio, Denver and numerous other jurisdictions.

“Opponents of BSL believe that such laws are a demeaning overreaction perpetuated by media bias and claim that dog bite statistics (showing pit bulls are responsible for the majority of fatal dog attacks) are unreliable sources of information regarding the ‘viciousness’ of a breed. They argue that BSL is unenforceable and ineffective, and that it fails to reduce the occurrence of dog attacks because it fails to address the root cause — people.

“Instead of focusing on and punishing owners who are irresponsible and criminals who use their dogs for illegal purposes, legislatures choose to place their focus on the dogs, making them into scapegoats. Many opponents believe BSL is the equivalent of racial profiling and banning a breed is, quite possibly, unconstitutional.

Through the documentary’s website, Sherrill is raising funds to help offset its cost of the documentary, fund a public opinion survey about public perceptions of pit bulls and how the media contributes to them, and establish a legal defense fund for people trying to keep their dogs in jurisdictions that have banned them.