1) Harriet is now available for adoption. This spayed female, brown and white "Pit Bull Terrier has been at the shelter since November 11, 2009. She is recommended for households with family members aged 5 and older. ID# A695500.
2) Lucy is now available for adoption. This spayed female, brown and white Pit Bull Terrier has been at the shelter since November 11, 2009. ID# A695502
3) Charlotte is now available for adotpion. This spayed female, brown and white Pit Bull Terrier has been at the shelter since November 11, 2009. ID# A695503
4) Hazel is now available for adoptoin. This spayed female, brown and white Labrador Retriever and Pit Bull Terrier has been at the shelter since November 11, 2009. This dog is not required to comply with Omaha's breed specific regulations. ID# A695501
So, which one is Hazel? What is it that makes one of these dogs a "lab mix" and the other three 'pit bulls"? And really, why does it matter?
And there we have an example of why Breed Specific Legislation cannot -- and is not -- enforced equitably.
Here we have four puppies -- by all signs litter-mates (They all look nearly the same, appear to be the same age, and all came into the shelter on the same date) -- three of the four puppies will have to spend the rest of their lives wearing muzzles outdoors (unless their new owner meets a series of requirements), but one, for reasons I cannot even begin the guess, gets to live its life as an ordinary dog. Why do not all of them get to live the lives as ordinary dogs?
When it comes to breed identification, especially for puppies and mixed breed dogs, the decision is inevitably arbitrary. It is nearly impossible to judge the genetic background of mixed breed dogs that resemble 'pit bulls'.
The residents of Omaha are becoming increasingly upset and frustrated by the new Omaha law -- as they feel like the fines are too heavy-handed and because the breed identification is arbitrary.
What may make the situation worse for the residents of Omaha, is they have very little recourse right now. The city of Omaha uses the Nebraska Humane Society for the enforcement of all of their animal control laws. Because NHS is a technically a 501c3 organization, and because of the way their contract with the city is written, NHS is not subject to the same open records laws as all of the other city entities. So people don't have any access to their euthanasia statistics, or how many dogs have been confiscated from their homes because of the new breed-specific laws -- and detailed bite statistics are not available.
It should be noted that using the most basic of bite numbers, Omaha saw a 37% increase in dog bites in the first half of 2009 under their new breed specific ordinance. And if recent headlines are any indication, that isn't improving. NHS continues to spend too much time enforcing the breed specific part of the law, and too little time focusing on the majority of dogs of all other dog breeds.
Beginning in 2009, the city started enforcing its breed specific laws. The cost to the city to enforce went up $75,000. The number of people bitten went up 37%. And the arbitrary nature of enforcing the breed-specific law continues to be a problem.
Back in August, I made some recommendations that I think would dramatically help the city deal with the problems they're seeing.
Hopefully they will begin listening too.
Here is a screen grab of the entire NHS adoptions page that I snagged while the dog's pictures were up last week. I imagine the dogs' images are down now which is why I did the screen grab. Charlotte is just out of the picture on the screen grab.