It's been quite a week. Denver is considering a possible repeal of their long-standing ban on pit bulls because of the financial drain the repeated court cases are having on their city budget. Lakewood, OH has run yet another non-pit bull owner out of their community due to an inability to identify dog breeds, Omaha's first six months with breed specific legislation has proven to be a disaster...both in terms of reducing dog bites and its impact on the city budget, and Kansas City, MO has implemented some new 'performance standards" for animal control that will reward ACOs for bringing more animals into the shelter. For the life of me I have no idea why a city would want to impose breed specific language when the evidence of its failures is everywhere and there are so many successful models that exist without breed specific language. I feel like the tide is turning...we'll see.
On to the rest of the week's stories -- and there are a lot of odd ones for sure:
Cities and Laws
The saga in Sioux City, IA took yet another interesting turn this week. For the past 9 months or so, Sioux City, IA has undergone a series of embarrassments coming out of their ban on 'pit bulls' -- the latest being when councilman Aaron Rochester -- who was the leader in getting the ban passed -- let his Labrador get free and it attacked a passing jogger. The dog was declared vicious by the courts and sentenced to be killed -- but this week, Rochester's dog, Jake, was freed from the kennel when someone cut the lock off a chain link fence and rescued Jake. Rochester's comments seem very odd, including noting that he isn't upset by his dog being stolen, he's 'surprised' but thought something like this could happen and claims to have no clue as to who could be responsible, even though some people have apparently said to him that they might do it. Nearly a year later, the fols in Sioux City are STILL discussing changes to their dog ordinance, and the saga continues to get weirder. Yes Biscuit! has a great writeup on this as well this week.
Mount Clemens, MI passed a ban on pit bulls this week, in spite of about 35 people coming out to testify against the ordinance and only a couple that spoke in favor. Their ordinance allows people to keep their existing "pit bulls" with restrictions, but that the restrictions could be avoided if the dog is certified through the AKC's Canine Good Citizen program. This is similar to what Omaha did with their ordinance which essentially requires responsible owners -- who were never a problem in the first place -- to jump through a series of hoops in order to keep their dogs and takes the focus away from the owners that are irresponsible in the first place. Omaha's law has not been successful, but I guess Mount Clemens thought they should try it anyway.
Pine Bluff, AR officials are meeting trying to seek additional penalties for repeat offenders of their vicious dog ordinance. In 2006, Pine Bluffs enacted a breed specific ordinance that required owners of 'pit bulls' to have signs, an insurance policy, and a special registry for their dogs, however, the city continues to have problems with a small group of repeate offenders. Most cities have a small group of dog owners that creat the majority of the dog bite problems in a their community, and yet instead of focusing on these owners, they make a more broad-sweeping law that creates hurdles for good dog owners to have to jump through....which just doesn't make sense.
Denmark is now considering nationwide BSL -- hopefully they'll look at the failures of their UK neighbors (see below) and realize why this is such a bad idea.
Rock Hill, NC is putting in strong restrictions on how dog owners can keep their dogs with the hope of ending the mistreatment of dogs in their community after 13 dogs were found in the woods strapped with logging chains and without dog houses. These types of ordinances make complete sense if public safety and improving the lives of animals is your goal.
Miami Dade County lost two lawsuits this week when dogs that were confiscated from homes under the city's breed ban were determined to not be any of the banned breeds. Breed ID via site is proving to be futile....and not only making BSL unenforcable, it is showing that most dog bite studies based on breed are actually bunk because the breed ID is not reliable.
Nackawic, CA is looking at potentially eliminating their breed specific law and making a behavior-based ordinance.
Ortonville, MI is looking at potential breed specific legislation because an owner can't seem to kep her dog from getting loose -- with the owner getting three dog at large tickets in the past month. Note to Ortonville, this owner is the problem...not an entire breed of dogs.
A Labrador Retriever that was tied to a metal fence bit a 2 year old Seattle area girl. The girl had a small puncture on her face that required a stitch.
A 10 year old boy was bitten in the face by a dog (breed was unmentioned) in Connecticut.
An electrical repairman in DeWitt, IA was severely attacked by three dogs that circled him and attacked him. The dogs were described as an American Bulldog, Boxer and a Huskie that were all running at-large.
A four year old girl was bitten for the second time by the family's Beagle/Dachsund mix. Apparently the dog had bitten the child before, but the child went over and laid on the dog. The incident appears to be a complete example of why educating parents how to introduce children and dogs together is increasingly important....for both the child and the dog. Now the dog will be killed because the parents failed to teach their toddler not lay on their dog.
An 82 year old Park Ridge, IL man was bitten by his neighbor's German Shepherds that were running at large.
Note that in none of the above stories was the dog breed mentioned in the headline.
In Miami-Dade County (which has had a ban on 'pit bulls' for 20 years), there is a news story about a 'pit bull' that apparently attacked a US Postal worker. Now, the term 'pit bull' is used in the headline, but if you go to the 14th paragraph of the article, you'll note that the dog, named "Blue", was registered as an Australian Shepherd (although I wonder if they mean Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Heeler given the dog's name). In the 15th paragraph, you'll note that the writer of the story admits that the breed of dog has not been confirmed -- even though the headline appears to say otherwise. Meanwhile, regardless of the breed, the owner does need to be held accountable and it is further evidence that Miami's 2-decade-old ban is not improving public safety in their comunity.
A 13 year old girl in Sacramento was bitten by a 'pit bull' that was owned by the family. Apparently the girl was watching the family's three dogs play in the back yard when the dog ran into the girl, knocking her down, and then bit her. The girl's injuries are described as minor, even though the word "attack" was used in both the headline and the story lead -- along with the words 'pit bull'.
A three year old Apopka, FL boy was attacked by his uncle's German Shepherd that was chained out in front of the home. The boy underwent emergency surgery following the attack. The boy received over 100 stitches in his face and neck. Some reports have noted that the young boy may have been throwing rocks and sticks at the dog prior to being attacked. Apparently this is the second time the boy has been bitten by the dog.
The UK Dangerous Dogs Act
Dog bites in West Yorkshire, UK have gone up more than 43% over the past 5 years in spite of the country-wide ban on four breeds of dogs. The UK, often cited as an example of a place that passed a ban on 'pit bulls' and other breeds continues to be a complete failure at improving public safety because they still haven't figure out how to deal with the irresponsible dog owner situation.
In Lancashire, the bite increases are even more major. In the past 5 years, the number of severe attacks in that area have more than doubled.
This is a great story from the Gloucester (MA) Times about dog bites, with some refreshing outlooks on causes of dog bites and who's fault it is when one does (yip, that person who owns the dog). It's refreshing when a newspaper does a well-informed article, that educates the public, and puts the responsibility of dog ownership on the dog owner.
A call for help from Best Friends for rescue groups and foster homes to step up to help the 400_ dogs confiscated from a major dog fighting ring bust about a month ago.
Olathe, KS has voted to keep their animal shelter open for at least one more year. Due to budget limitations, they have been considering contracting out shelter operations to nearby Animal Haven.
The pit bull, nanny dog, an endangered species -- a good write up from the Examiner folks on the failings of BSL -- featuring a mention of a blind pit bull that was taken from her owner in Independence following the city's breed ban.
I don't know anything about this movie --but an interesting trailer is now online for a trailer to a new documentary highlighting the plight of 'pit bulls' in the city of Denver.
Must-read Blog postings from the week:
One Bark at a Time posts two photographs that tell a very sad, telling story. Fred is usually a great writer, but sometimes let's his photography skills do the talking for him. Folks, if you have older friends or family in your life, please make plans for what will happen with the companion dog when/if the dog's caretaker dies.
F8Hasit has an interesting post from an American Bulldog owner's viewpoint following two incidences where dog owners of non-targeted breeds were forced out of town by the city's pit bull ban and the city's inability to correctly identify dog breeds.
For the Love of Dog Blog has a good article on dog tethering including a day in the life video of a dog that is left chained as its primary form of containment. It's a worthy watch, regardless of where you stand on the tethering issue. And while I do support certain types of ordinances that restrict tethering, I think they should be tailored specifically toward the types of owners featured in this video who, while tethering their dogs, their complete neglect of the dog is their primary crime. Not all tethering is inhumane...but certainly the type featured here is.
Terrierman has a great post on accuracy of reporting, the accuracy of blogs, and steps people should take to insure they are developing accurate opinions on particular subjects. This is great to keep in mind for those city council members who think BSL is a great solution -- if the only source you can find to justify your position is a website created by someone who was bitten by a dog as her primary credentials, then you may need to go find a more accurate source --like any of the expert animal behavior groups out there.
A really great post fromSave a Pit Bull, Save the World about how no one should be made to feel bad about owning a particular breed of dog.