Yesterday, I dug deeper into the data to see if we could find real information regarding dog bites, and what cities might do to try to prevent them. Overwhelmingly, the information points to the following factors leading to dog bites:
1) Number of stray dogs
2) Number of neglect and cruelty cases in an area
3) Amount of crimes (both violent and non-violent) in an area (presumably leading to people getting dogs for guarding purposes)
So what happens when cities focus on data -- and individual statistic -- and focuses their efforts on controlling dog bites with some type of breed restrictions? They take their eye off of what really matters. Instead of their local animal control focusing their efforts on dealing with strays and neglect and cruelty issues, they end up focusing on things that aren't relevant to public safety. There is always an opportunity cost associated with BSL...and that opportunity is to focus on the things that matter.
This is why San Francisco, CA had more than 100% increase in dog bites two years after passing their ordinance mandating the spay/neuter of pit bulls (this is the ordinance Kansas City, MO used as inspiration for their current ordinance).
This is why Council Bluffs, Iowa has seen an increase in dog bites since passing their breed specific legislation 2 years ago.
This is why The UK, which was the "leader" in Breed Specific Ordinances when they banned four different breeds of dogs, has seen a 34% increase in hospitalizations due to dog bites since their Dangerous Dogs Act was last updated in 1997.
This is also why Erie County Ohio saw a DECREASE in dog bites in the two years following its largest city, Sandusky repealing its breed ban because of fears the law was unconstitutional.
And the cost to the cities in enforcing Breed Specific Ordinances can get very expensive, as New London (Ontario) found out with their pit bull ban sucking up 25% of their overall animal control costs.
These costs take money and resources away from enforcing other animal control violations like cruelty, neglect and stray dogs - -the enforcement of which would actually have a POSITIVE effect on public safety.
Every person who lives in a city has a stake in this. Every citizen should demand that their city makes decisions based on REAL INFORMATION, not a small data set that not only will tell a small part of the story, will often tell a part of the story completely incorrectly. Once we start doing this, and listening to the dog experts in our communities, we will get to animal control ordinances that really work. Until then, we'll be stuck with cities making bad, breed specific laws, that actually do nothing to improve the public safety of our communities -- and in fact, take resources away from the things that do.