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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!)

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 »

Musical interlude: The Pit Bull Blues

Pit Bull Blues is written and performed by John Shipe, Involushun Records

Judge upholds shelter’s pit bull adoption ban

“Virginia may be for lovers, but Loudoun County isn’t the place for dog lovers.”

That’s the conclusion of an animal welfare legislative analyst in light of a Loudoun County judge’s ruling that the county can ban pit bull adoptions — despite a Virginia law to that ensures the right to own a pit bull.

“This is a dark day for shelter dogs in our nation,” said Ledy VanKavage, of Best Friends Animal Society.  “Throughout the land, cities and states are rejecting breed discriminatory laws and this decision embraces profiling.”

The judge’s May 21 ruling ended the nearly two-year battle over the county’s no-adopt policy on pit bulls.

In a 13-page opinion, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Burke F. McCahill sided with the county, ruling that banning the adoption of pit bulls does not break state or local laws, the Loudoun Times reports. The ruling came after a two-day trial May 5 and 6.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Loudoun resident Ronald Litz in 2007 after he tried to adopt a pit bull from the county animal shelter. He was told the shelter did not allow pit bull adoptions.

Of the judge’s May 21 decision, Litz said, “If the judge doesn’t want to enforce Virginia law, there’s nothing I can do about it.” Litz had argued that the county was denying him the right of ownership of a pit bull, which is against Virginia law.

McCahill disagreed, saying that while state law may give county residents the right to own pit bulls, there is no right to adopt one.

Effectively, the sentence is a death penalty for any pit bulls who end up in Loudoun’s animal shelter and go unclaimed by owners.

Read more »

Texas lawmaker seeks opinion on breed bans

A Texas lawmaker has asked the state attorney general to issue an opinion on whether local officials have the authority to pass laws banning or regulating specific breeds of dogs.

In a letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott, Republican state Rep. Tony Goolsby requested an opinion to clarify a state law that cities and counties have interpreted as preventing them from targeting breeds.

He wrote that confusion caused by “varying interpretations” of the law has stopped local governments wanting to pursue such measures, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Read more »