So five days this week, four posts on BSL/MSN - which is basically the mandated spay/neuter of a certain breed of dog. On Monday we looked at the idea of BSL/MSN, and I layed out my criteria for evaluation of different laws. I still think animal control laws and policies should serve one of three goals:
1) Protect people from animals
2) Protect animals from people (including shelter euthanasia)
3) Respect taxpayer dollars that go toward animal control
So over the past 4 days we've looked at a couple of case studies of this law -- looking at the shelter euthanasia numbers and kill numbers for the first two cities to pass mandatory spay/neuter of 'pit bull' laws. On Tuesday, we looked at San Francisco. Wednesday, Kanasas City. On Friday, a different look at San Francisco.
I'll note that both of the cities that instituted the ordinance did so following fatal dog attacks in their area -- which would lead us to believe that the primary reason for the ordinances were for public safety. Although in each case, slowing down shelter killing has also been used as a reason for the ordinances. So how are they doing?
In San Francisco, bite totals remained flat from 2005 to 2006, in spite of the ordinance. However, in the 19 months preceding the ordinance compared to the 19 months following the ordinance bites went up 13%. Although 'pit bull' bites went down, the total number of serious bites and bites by "mastiff" type dogs (basically most large dogs are grouped in this grouping in San Fran) remained flat. In Kansas City, the total number of dog bites dropped 6% -- although the bites attributed to 'pit bulls' increased. Given this, I would speculate that KC's drop in dog bites is actually more due to them also increasing the budget for more animal control officers (KCMO only responded to 20% of their AC calls in 2005) than the actual ordinance itself given that the one grouping of dogs affected by the ordinance actually had more bites attributed to them.
Based on these numbers, there is very little evidence that in the early stages of the BSL/MSN that the ordinance is improving public safety.
Meanwhile, animal euthanasia numbers are also interesting.
San Francisco saw a 3% drop in total euthanasia, with euths to both 'pit bulls' and non-'pit bulls' decreasing slightly, however the precentage of 'pit bulls' that entered the shelter that were euthanized increased by 2 percentage points.
In Kansas City, euthanasia rates went up 7% (450 total kills) between 2005 and 2007 after a big spike in 2006 following the passing of the ordinance. What is more disturbing is that the euth rate for "pit bulls" went up 76% following the ordinance....which is actually one of the specific problems the ordinance was supposed to cure. This leads me to believe that KCMO may be using the ordinance to confiscate pit bulls -- and that this isn't the only story where the dog was unjustly taken from its owner and killed. Taking dogs from otherwise good homes to kill them, only because they are not neutered, is NOT helping.
So the bottom line -- I'm seeing very little evidence that in the early stages of these ordinances that anything is improving in terms of public safety OR decreasing euthanasia. In fact, in each case, one of the two problems has actually become significantly worse since the adoption of the ordinance. This, tacked on to some legal issues that each city has faced due to breed ID (which ties up taxpayer dollars), it really appears as if the ordinances are NOT working. I know T.E. Houston agrees.
Meanwhile, there was something else really interesting that I picked up from doing this little exercise. In the TE Houston study, it was noted that 87% of all reported dog bites were considered minor. In Kansas City, the number ranged from about 88-92%. Of this small percentage of bites that was considered "major" (a very subjective measurement -- in fact, so subjective that the same word isn't used for it in all cases -- some cases are "severe" and others "serious" -- I've included them all in these reports) here is a list of the breed listings for the dogs involved in "serious" attacks in KCMO: Akita, Austrailian Shepherd, Border Collie, Chow Chow, Dalmation, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Chinese Shar Pei, Dogue Bordeaux, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Oldeng Sheepdog, Bull Terrier, unknown, Cocker Spaniel, English Springer, Bulldog, Bull Mastiff, Great Dane and Siberian Husky.
That's 21 different breeds that have accounted for the 104 major/serious attacks in Kansas City over the past 3 years. How was limiting one "breed" going to help?