Breed Specific Legislation


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Breed Specific Legislation

  1. 1. Breed Specific Legislation 1 Kim Farrow December 1, 2011
  2. 2. How I Learned about BSL 2
  3. 3. “I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man” - Mahatma Gandhi 3
  4. 4. What is Breed Specific Legislation? “Legislation aimed at eradicating or strictly regulating dogs based solely on their breed” 4
  5. 5. What is Breed Specific Legislation? 5 BSL is based upon the premise that the “breed or appearance determines a dog’s behavior.”
  6. 6. Examples of BSL Restrictions • Registration as Dangerous Dog with Municipality • Micro-chipping • Sterilization • Additional Liability Insurance (or Dropped Insurance) • Property Confinement • Requiring Muzzle • Vicious Dog Label • Removal and Euthanasia 6
  7. 7. “It’s Just Pit Bulls – Right?” 7 Alaskan Malamutes Boerboels English Mastiffs Bull Mastiff Italian Mastiff
  8. 8. Including….. 8 The Queen of England’s famous corgis Previously banned in Italy !!!!
  9. 9. What is a Pit Bull? 9 American Pit Bull Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier “Pit Bull”
  10. 10. History of Breed Specific Legislation 10 “dangerous dog laws” “ownership of dogs based on the animal’s prior conduct”
  11. 11. Pre “Pit Bull Paranoia” 11 Working Dogs Like German Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers and Rottweiler's earned reputation as being aggressive and dangerous
  12. 12. Prior Pit Bull reputation Sergeant Stubby – WWI US Military Mascot Buster Brown Shoe Company Mascot - Tighe “Petey” and the Little Rascals Devoted Family Pets 12
  13. 13. What Changed? 13 Strong Jaws Devotion
  14. 14. Dog Fighting 14
  15. 15. Media Influence 15 In 1987 – 4 major magazines (Time, People, Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone) published negative cover stories and in-depth stories about Pit Bulls
  16. 16. Media Frenzy 16 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. A 16-month-old child received fatal head and neck injuries after being attacked by a mixed breed dog A six-year-old boy was hospitalized after having his ear torn off and receiving a severe bite to the head by a mixed breed dog A 59-year-old woman was attacked in her home by two pit bulls and was hospitalized with severe, but not fatal, injuries. Reported in 1 article in the local paper Reported in 2 articles in the local paper Reported in 1 article in the local paper Reported in over 230 articles in national and international publications , as well as major television networks including CNN, Fox and MSNBC
  17. 17. Where is BSL? 17
  18. 18. Where is BSL? 18
  19. 19. “Military Intelligence?” 19 Forget the legacy of Sergeant Stubby and other decorated Military Pit Bulls
  20. 20. Ohio 20
  21. 21. Ohio 21 If a dog "belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull", then it is automatically considered vicious and dangerous.
  22. 22. There is Still Hope 22
  23. 23. The Public Debate – For BSL Put an end to dog attacks by targeting: • Certain breeds of dogs that are “inherently viscous and dangerous” • Breeds that tend to appeal to people who are involved in criminal activity (e.g. drug dealers, gangs and dog fighting) 23
  24. 24. The Public Debate – Against BSL • Does nothing to prevent or reduce dog biting incidents as all dog breeds can bite • Makes the breed more appealing to criminals • Does absolutely nothing to hold irresponsible owners accountable and actually punishes responsible owners • Discriminates against people who choose to own a particular breed of dog and punishes those dogs that are reliable community citizens like therapy dogs and search and rescue dogs • Leads to some owners placing their dogs in “hiding” • Gives the community a false sense of security • Problematic to enforce because it requires identification of the breed often by inexperienced local government officials • Website “Find the Pit Bull” • • It is also very costly to enforce • And finally…If pit bulls were outlawed…would the dog fighters just quietly go away? 24
  25. 25. Organizations That Oppose BSL American Dog Owners Association (ADOA) American Humane American Kennel Club (AKC) American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) American Working Dog Federation (AWDF) Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Best Friends Animal Society Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) International Assocation of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) National Animal Control Association (NACA) National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors (NADOI) 25
  26. 26. P.E.T.A “Breed specific legislation (with a grandfather clause for those dogs already in existence) can be an important tool in ending the tragic exploitation of these breeds.” 26
  27. 27. A Word about Statistics Both supporters and those that oppose BSL cite statistics to defend their argument • use statistics throughout their site, for example: • “From 2005 to 2010, pit bulls killed 104 Americans, about one citizen every 21 days” • “Of these attacks, 50% involved a family member and a household pit bull” • “In the first 8 months of 2011, nearly half of those killed by a pit bull was the owner” • Contrary to this, in a video examining BSL on current TV’s website: • “20 people were killed by dogs in 2009” • but then drew a comparison to another statistic reporting that approximately 2,000 children are killed each year by their parents • It also stated that “individuals have a one in 25 million chance of being bitten by a dog and a far greater chance of being struck by lightning” 27
  28. 28. A Word about Statistics CDC Study: 28 “Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998” CDC Statement after the study’s mis-use: “…does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic.”
  29. 29. More About Statistics • Only account for reported bites – not in perspective with bites that do not occur • Do not identify bites that were “caused” at a groomers or vets • Do not identify whether the bites were provoked by aggressive or irresponsible human behavior • No national registry of bite stats • Statistics are only as good as their interpretation…who funded the study? 29
  30. 30. Constitutional Challenges Challenges fall under the 14th amendment with concerns relating to: • Equal Protection - State of Florida v. Peters (1988) and Vanater v. Village of South Point (1989) • Substantive Due Process - Sentell v. New Orleans & Carrollton R.R. (1897) and Nicchia v. New York (1920) • Procedural Due Process/Vagueness - American Dog Owners Association v. City of Des Moines (1991) 30
  31. 31. Denver Law and Current Status 31
  32. 32. Denver Law and Current Status 32 The Denver law defines a pit bull: “Any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one (1) or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds."
  33. 33. Denver Law – Law Suits 33 • Dias v. The City and County of Colorado – Substantive Due Process Claim • Grider et al v. City and County of Denver et al - Pit Boss one of the plaintiffs
  34. 34. 13 States actually Prohibit BSL 34
  35. 35. New York State and BSL 35
  36. 36. New York State and BSL 36 Article 7, Section 107, Paragraph 5 of Agriculture and Markets Law “Nothing contained in this article shall prevent a municipality from adopting its own program for the control of dangerous dogs; provided, however, that no such program shall be less stringent than this article, and no such program shall regulate such dogs in a manner that is specific as to breed.”
  37. 37. New York State and BSL 37 Three New York Communities still have BSL • Village of Larchmont, Westchester County - Pit bull ban effective 1998. Any previously owned pit bulls were allowed to remain but the owner was required to carry insurance of $500,000 • Village of Sands Point, Nassau County, LI – Restriction requires that pit bull owners carry $300,000 insurance • Village of Hempstead, Nassau County, LI – Restriction requires that pit bull owners carry $100,000 insurance
  38. 38. Has BSL Been Successful? • Council Bluffs, IA – BSL imposed 2005 • Lowest Dog Bites before ban, Highest after • San Francisco, CA – BSL imposed 2006 • In the 18 months after BSL, Dog Bites up by 14% • Omaha, NE – BSL imposed 2008 • Prior to BSL, Dog Bites declined 10% and 14% in the two years prior • Post BSL, Bites increased 9% (at a cost of $75,000 a year) • Toronto / Ontario Canada • No statistical change in the number of Dog Bites • 1,000+ “Pit Bull” type dogs killed and thousands of owners of similar dogs harassed • London / England • Dog Bites increase in London 79% in last 5 years, Increase 43% nationally • $14 Million in enforcement costs • 2011 – Dog Control Bill working through legislation to replace BSL. Puts emphasis on owners not breed • In a 2010 study by the National Canine Research Council the authors calculate that in order to prevent a single hospitalization resulting from a dog bite, a city or town would have to ban more than 100,000 dogs of a targeted breed 38
  39. 39. A Warning – Canine Research Study 39
  40. 40. Alternatives to BSL Enact and Enforce a good non-breed specific dog law Enforce leash laws Employ significant penalties for those involved in any inhumane or irresponsible activity with animals Educate the public about responsible dog ownership and dog behavior Increase funding for animal control agencies Prevent criminals from owning dogs Regulate breeders Fund spay and neuter programs Provide low cost obedience training classes and behavioral assistance Use an economic analysis tool to determine the cost of a proposed BSL – Best Friends 40
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  43. 43. 43 “Hi, my name is Gypsy and I am just a dog”
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