TN-Humane Society official says pit bull bans unsuccessful

Discussion in 'Breed Specific Legislation' started by Vicki, Sep 5, 2009.

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    Humane Society official says pit bull bans unsuccessful
    By Kevin Castle

    Published September 5th, 2009

    KINGSPORT — A representative of a leading animal rights group agrees with a proposal by Kingsport Police Chief Gale Osborne to find a way for pit bulls and the general public to coexist within the city limits.

    Last month, Osborne said he wanted to compromise rather than seek a ban of pit bulls in the city.

    The issue was raised after two incidents where pit bulls were shot by a police officer in the line of duty. One of the incidents is being looked into by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

    Just last week, pit bulls were involved in two other cases. One involved a Johnson City police officer shooting a pit bull after the dog attacked an animal control officer on a call.

    The other took place last weekend when two individuals, who both were apprehended hours later, invaded a home and used a pit bull to scare the homeowner off.

    Adam Goldfarb, director of the Humane Society of the United States’ Pets at Risk program, says such big cities as Denver and Miami have passed breed-specific legislation that banned pit bulls and other breeds classified by lawmakers as aggressive. But the bans have not been successful.

    “Even the United Kingdom has had a pit bull ban in place for the last 20 years, and they have not seen a reduction in (cases involving dogs biting humans) at all,†said Goldfarb.

    “It does depend on the community as far as it is enforced, but it is destined to be unsuccessful,†he said. “Banning a breed does not get to the root causes of why dogs are aggressive. I think what we are seeing right now is part of a trend. There’s always a dog breed that is the ‘dangerous’ breed of the moment.

    “In the ’60s and ’70s it was German shepherds and Dobermans. In the ’80s and ’90s it was Rottweilers, and now it’s pit bulls. These dogs are not inherently dangerous, but because they are sought after by reckless individuals who want dogs to be a weapon or status symbol, they are changing the dog and changing the perception of the breed.â€

    The Ohio Supreme Court recently upheld an ordinance adopted by the city of Youngstown that requires owners of “vicious breeds†to confine their dogs. The law, deemed constitutional by the court, requires residents to restrain dogs that are defined as “having a propensity, tendency or disposition to attack, to cause injury to or otherwise endanger the safety of human beings or other domestic animals ... without provocation.â€

    The law resulted from an April 2007 case where an owner’s Italian mastiff/Cane Corso attacked another dog and its owner, who were walking in a city park.

    The mastiff’s owner was ordered to serve 90 days in jail, pay restitution costs, and cannot own a dog that is bigger than a Chihuahua as part of his probation, according to information published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

    Goldfarb said there are many solutions to help the problem of aggressive behavior in dogs, including better financing of a locality’s animal control office.

    “You need to give animal control officers the means to do their jobs and to get those irresponsible dog owners,†he said.

    “If you are looking at legislation, one thing that has been very successful is banning any kind of restraining or chaining. Over 100 localities in 30 states with this type of law have seen everything from a reduction in dog bites to calls to animal control.

    “It is really important to offer more spay and neuter options to the public regardless of income. Studies show that unsterilized dogs are twice as likely to be involved in aggressive behavior including fighting and biting.â€

    Some localities have mandated specific changes to a dog owner’s property in order to keep the pet, such as the height and length of a confining fence and the thickness of a restraining chain, both of which Goldfarb says do not work.

    “A study was done in South Carolina years ago on dog attacks, especially those that were severe, and it found that half of them were from dogs that were chained or broke free from a chain. Keeping an animal restrained is a good thing, but either indoors or confined in an nclosure outdoors,†he said.

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