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« Weekly Roundup - Week ending 2/24/13 | Main | The Top 5 +1 for February, 2013 »

February 27, 2013

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db

Just read an article about the Grand Rapids, MI police shooting a pit bull that the teen owners sent out to attack. The comments make me wonder if we've made any progress at all. People refuse to believe the facts and hold onto these horrible myths about all pits and pit mixes. It makes me sick to my stomach!

Joel

The only problem is that I feel people generally vote on what they think is going to make them safe. And dogs are overwhelmingly safe. So a community without BSL is probably going to oppose BSL.

Meanwhile, a community with BSL is probably going to want to continue with it...again, because they feel safe since dogs aren't really that big of a public safety threat in the grand scheme of things no matter what sort of laws we put in.

The general population is going to want to stay with the status quo.

Brent

People fear change, no doubt. I also think she may have been thrown by the vote in Miami on the same topic, assuming the same situation would translate -- even though Miami is void of law-abiding pit bull owners and Broward is full of them -- this people's real pets are impacted, as well as their neighbor's pets, and people get to see the dogs in real life, not just via some news report.

And yes, in general, dogs are safe, and people don't fear dogs, so there is little reason to adjust things....

Joel

That's the thing; people who have dogs who would be on the BSL list are the ones who are going to get on the phones and come to the city hall meetings.

But when it comes to the vote, it's the general public (people who do not own breeds targeted by BSL) who are going to be making the difference in passing or not passing the laws. And they're not likely to change what's in place. They didn't change it in Dade County last year, and they wouldn't have changed it in Broward County even if this HAD gone to the polls.

It's good for communities without BSL. But it's troubling for communities with BSL. As stupid as most animal lovers and animal welfare people find BSL, it's not on the radar for the general public so they're not going to vote to change things without a LOT of education. Asking a community with BSL to vote it out is a big ask in my book...do we know of any communities where it's happened?

Brent

As far as I know Joel, Miami is the first time it's been brought to a public vote. If it's happened before it was probably more than a decade ago (before attitudes about pit bulls were changing as much). And given that BSL had existed for so long in Miami, and thus, few owners really existed there to help push for educating the public, I wasn't surprised by how the vote went -- especially when older people tend to hold on to old misconceptions more and are more likely to vote.

Joel

Well let's consider that the bar for what happens when it's put to a popular vote.

63% for BSL, 37% against.

Brent

I really doubt that's a true bar. It's also important to note that more than 1/2 of the public cast their ballots from early voting or absentee ballots -- the ones that waited until voting day (after more educational campaigns and editorials ran opposing the ban ran) voted to repeal at 41%.

Keep in mind that in Miami, pit bulls had been banned for 25 years. So not only were there almost no pit bull owners there to represent, most people there had never really even seen pit bulls out in the community -- so they had no real-life experiences to draw from. I think it's much more slanted than what the public in a non-BSL city would vote. Honestly, the fact that it was as close as it was was kind of surprising to me.

db

Okay, just found out that the mayor where I live is pushing for banning pits, pit mixes and "scary looking hounds" (yeah, he really said that). Where would you suggest I go for information I can get to my council members and mayor that will give him some facts (and maybe a better option)?

Joel

db, half of Brent's posts would probably work.

db

I know - but if I could get something in an easy to read, dummy proof form, that would work best. The mayor is known to grab onto something and not let go until he makes it happen.

dodo

How about the American Bar Association's report and resolution on breed neutral laws.

http://www.abanow.org/2012/06/2012am100/

They are less likely to brush off something like this by claiming it was written by some random biased non-expert, pro-pit bull person.

db

Thanks, dodo, I sent the link with a message to our mayor.

Brent

Yeah, I often send a variety of links to them when the topic comes up. I send them links to the followings statements on breed-specific laws:

AVMA
National Animal Control Association
American Bar Association
Association of Pet Dog Trainers
ASPCA

Sometimes I'll send others -- but generally I like them to realize that there is absolutely no professional support for breed-specific laws. None.

Charlotte Fee

PLEASE READ!
I spoke at the Commission hearing and was asked to participate in Sharief's 'group of animal experts' in committee to work on dog concerns. Interestingly enough, however, even though I'd emailed and phoned her chief of staff, they 'forgot' to invite some of us to the meeting. Specifically myself (30 year humane society volunteer, owner of 2 rescue dogs including a certified therapy dog), Marni Bellavia (10+ year evaluator and head of local humane society therapy dog group), Sharron Carmichle (27+ year cruelty investigator w/local humane society), Dawn Hanna (dog behaviorist), and others.

It's like pulling teeth to obtain the invitee list, attendee list, meeting minutes, or date/time/location of the next meeting.

I am told the 2nd meeting will be April 24 at 11am at Broward Commission offices. I am also told that any member of the public must be allowed to participate, because it's a public committee w/other members of the public.

So I encourage those well-spoken and concerned animal advocates to appear with any documentation to enter into the record. No posters, no picketing, just an overabundance of facts. If you can't appear, please e-mail your commissioners w/facts, expressing concern that educated citizens are being stonewalled from the meetings they were invited to (as a public show), that the vice-mayor has hand-picked people and is framing participation so that she can claim her new suggestions came out of public committee.

I am told the 1st meeting had solutions 'unanimously agreed' upon which staff (i.e., staff attorneys drafting law) are now working on. And I did see the attendee list, containing not 1 person I am aware of from the local dog community, except those against 'dangerous breeds' like pit bulls. This is very concerning, how not 1 member of the BCHS was included; conveniently 'forgotten'.

We're being stonewalled, folks. And the vice-mayor certainly intends on presenting to the commission her proposed laws against pit bulls - like those already in place in Sunrise, FL, even though the State prohibits breed discriminatory legislation -code enforcement laws apparently have a loophole, at least until they're challenged in court.

Please - spread the word. Write all the commissioners. Attend April 24. Protect our rights as responsible dog owners!

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