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LETTER TO EDITOR: Open letter to Jasper City Leaders from Pit Bull Defense Fund regarding recent breed-specific ordinance passage

PIT BULL DEFENSE FUND
1550 Spring Road,
Suite 310
Oak Brook, IL 60523

 

July 19, 2017

Dear Jasper City Leaders,

Our organization was contacted from concerned citizens in Jasper and surrounding areas in regard to Jasper passing Ordinance 376, which strictly prohibits and bans the “Pit Bull Type” breed in your city. It was disturbing to say the least to learn that The Ordinance was first read during the May City Council Meeting, with no prior public notice given, and that the second and final reading on June 12, opened with a Public Hearing. Elected officials were given information, facts, and alternatives from concerned Citizens, however it was immediately passed unanimously by elected Officials to move forward with the ordinance.

Our PIT BULL DEFENSE FUND Facebook page has 100k plus members that are following this story. Amazingly, your small town and this new ordinance, is one of the top trending stories on our FB page. People are outraged at how this was handled. I’d like to respectfully ask that you take a couple of minutes and read the following information.

Breed-specific legislation (BSL), is ineffective at keeping a community safe because such laws target the wrong thing and ignore the real issue.

A dog attacks – and city-council members want the city attorney to react—sometimes by drafting an ordinance that restricts or outlaws a specific breed of dog, most often the pit bull terrier. After an ordinance is passed, authorities must then force out and kill any dog that slightly resembles a pit bull terrier. Prince George’s County Maryland spends approximately $560,000 every two years enforcing its ban. Miami-Dade County impounds and kills around 1200 pit bull terriers a year, despite a ban dating back to the 1980s, resulting in a significant fiscal impact.

Given the astronomical costs associated with breed-discriminatory laws, are they a smart approach to community safety? Have you thought about these issues that will come up once this law is passed?

  1. How do you prove in court the identity of a mixed-breed dog?
  2. What sort of training do your animal-control or law-enforcement officers have regarding breed identification?
  3. If they aren’t trained in breed identification, is a veterinarian employed to determine whether a dog is a certain breed?
  4. Now that DNA testing is available, are courts going to require the government to pay for such testing before confiscating and destroying citizens dogs?

By targeting pit bull terriers, you’re missing the real issue. Experienced lawyers counsel their clients to make decisions based on research and valid statistics, not on emotion; so why continue to persecute pit bull terriers based on nothing other than emotion? Here is a perfect example…

  • On Aug.18, 2007: A Labrador mix attacked a 70-year-old man, sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Police officers arrived at the scene, and the dog was shot after charging the officers. This incident was reported in one article and only in the local paper• On Aug. 19, 2007: A 16-month-old child received fatal head and neck injuries after being attacked by a mixed-breed dog. This attack was reported two times by the local paper.
  • On Aug. 20, 2007: A 6-year-old boy was hospitalized after having his ear torn off and receiving severe bites to the head by a medium-sized mixed-breed dog. This attack was reported in one article and only in the local paper.
  • On Aug. 21, 2007: A 59-year-old woman was attacked in her home while trying to break up a dog fight involving her neighbor’s Jack Russell terrier and two pit bull terriers. The pit bull terriers had broken off their chains and followed her neighbor’s Jack Russell terrier in through her dog door. She was hospitalized with severe injuries. Her dog was not injured. This attack was reported in more than 230 articles in national and international newspapers and on major television news networks, including CNN, MSNBC, and Fox.

Since Calgary, Alberta, enacted and enforced a new aggressive-dog ordinance, the city has experienced a 56 percent decline in aggressive-dog incidents and a 21 percent decline in biting incidents in just two years. Calgary does not discriminate against particular breeds of dogs but focuses on protecting the public from all aggressive dogs regardless of breed. The city’s animal-control wardens adopt a community-policing/problem-solving approach when dealing with members of the public. The focus is on stiff fines and public education. The city encourages its wardens to get out of their trucks and talk with folks. If a dog bites a person, a $350 fine is imposed; if the person needs medical attention, the fine increases to $750. There is also a $250 fine for a dog-on-dog attack or if an owner fails to license their dog.

This is in obvious contrast to cities that have enacted breed-discriminatory laws. Studies show that breed-discriminatory laws are ineffective in protecting the public from dog attacks. One study involves the U.K.’s Dangerous Dog Act, which banned pit bull terriers.

The study concluded that the ban had no effect whatsoever on stopping dog attacks. The most recent study compared dog bites reported to the health department of Aragon, Spain, for five years before and five years after the introduction of its Dangerous Animals Act. As with the earlier study, there was no change in numbers of reported dog bites after the implementation of breed-discriminatory legislation, and the breeds most responsible for bites both before and after the breed-discriminatory legislation were those unrestricted by the legislation: German shepherds and mixed-breed dogs. The restricted breeds, American Staffordshire terriers, pit-bull terriers and Rottweilers, were responsible for less than 4 percent of the reported bites both before and after the law took effect.

According to the National Canine Research Council, 25 percent of all fatal attacks since the 1960s have been inflicted by chained dogs. Chained dogs can actually be attractive nuisances, luring children in to pet them. Many cities and some states, including Texas, have adopted chaining restrictions.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 821, prohibits dogs from being tied up, chained or tethered under any of the following conditions:

  • Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Within 500 feet of school property.
  • When the temperature is below 32 degrees.
  • When a heat advisory or ozone alert has been issued
  • When a pinch, choke or improperly fitting nylon collar is used.
  • Restricting chaining between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. can have the added benefit of reducing the number of barking complaints.

Responsible dog owners in Jasper should have the right to own whatever breed of dog they choose and reckless owners should be prohibited from owning dogs. It is up to the leaders of your city to ensure effective ordinances that protect people from any dangerous dog, regardless of its breed.

The PIT BULL DEFENSE FUND is respectfully asking that you to do the right thing for both the dogs and citizens of Jasper, and rescind Ordinance 376, which will strictly prohibit and ultimately ban the “Pit Bull Type” breed. While most progressive cities are moving away from BSL, it’s discouraging to see such an ineffective and fiscally irresponsible law just days away from being implemented in your city. We are more than willing to help you create an effective law that protects your citizens as well as the dogs currently being targeted.

Respectfully,
Amy Babson – President
PIT BULL DEFENSE FUND

https://www.facebook.com/defendourbullybreed/
pitbulldefensefund.org

 

Contributed Editorial in regards to previous stories:

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The preceding was a letter sent to MarionCountyMessenger.com as an editorial piece. It does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of our staff, management, owners, and advertisers.

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