Sunday, August 26, 2012

Protecting Dangerous Dogs

Revised: Aug 27, 2012, 17:57 GMT
Revised: Aug 28, 2012, 14:55 GMT

There is no evidence to support that breed specific ordinances work.
Reginald Zimmerman
MA Dept of Agricultural Resources, Division of Animal Health

* * * * *

Mr Zimmerman clearly has not done his homework. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has been working in Boston and other Massachusetts municipalities. But we will return to this in a moment.

On October 31, 2012, Massachusetts will begin officially protecting pit bulls. Tucked into the recent 41-page animal control law is the sentence: No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.

This radical provision, intended solely to protect pit bulls, was included in the new law at the behest of the advocates of fighting breeds. Over sixty percent of the population do not want to live next door to a pit bull.* The advocates found it convenient to circumvent the will of the people by massaging the legislature. It was a secret, shameful act.

* * * * *

A recent attack in New Jersey, another of the handful of states which protect pit bulls, illustrates the tormented language used by officials when explaining a pit bull attack.

Melo, a five pound bichon frisé, was killed by Biggie Smalls as her horrified human companions looked on. Corine Adams and her daughter were walking home from the city park when Biggie dashed through traffic to attack and kill Melo.** Nancy Mangieri, director of the Bergen County Dept of Health Services, explained the state's position:
We have no legal right to impound an animal in an animal-to-animal attack, unless it meets some criteria to do so, and the criteria were not met in this particular case.
Massachusetts officials should study Ms Mangieri's lines carefully; they may soon have occasion to employ similar circumlocutions.

* * * * * *

We now must consider Mr Zimmerman's profundity, with which he has entered the pantheon of pit bull advocacy. Advocates may believe that by repeating this line over and over it will come true. In fact, it is still wrong. Mr Zimmerman may want to read the recent study by Dr. Raghavan (cited below). Or he might want to read the figures published in the Boston Herald (Aug 24)). Or he may want to call the people in Miami, who recently voted overwhelmingly to retain their BSL of 23 years. Or he may want to call the folks in Denver, who have fought for decades to keep their BSL, despite well-funded efforts by advocates of fighting breeds. Or he might read our post, Is BSL Effective? But by all means, he must stop repeating this nonsense line, which has been used ad nauseam; no one believes it except other advocates of fighting breeds. He might want to do some fact-checking, rather than simply reading the talking points memo from the advocates of fighting breeds.

That would include MSPCA Advocacy Director Kara Holmquist, who has been widely quoted in the days following news of the new law. Ms Holmquist first came to national attention last year when the MSPCA launched its annual pit bull promotion in October. Two children were killed by pit bulls in the days before the promotion, but that did not deter the MSPCA. Ms Holmquist appeared in a TV interview claiming that pit bulls exhibit no more aggression than Golden Retrievers.

This bizarre claim, known as The Hannover Formula, is an outrage to reason. Massachusetts advocates of fighting breeds seem blissfully unaware that pit bulls have killed, on average, 25 people a year over the last three years; they offer no explanation or comment on this gruesome statistic. The rate of these pit bulls attacks are increasing exponentially in recent years. Nearly a third of all the pit bull disfigurements over the last 30 years have occurred in the last two years. 2011 saw the most pit bull disfigurements since records have been reliably maintained. Advocates of fighting breeds refuse to acknowledge these horrors.

Pam Pebbles, the Executive Director of the Thomas J O'Connor Foundation in Springfield, used the Hannover Formula again this summer. Ms Pebbles was defending pit bulls following the mauling of a 9-year old child in June. Thousands of people around the world have read our post on Ms Peebles (Prescriptions), yet she has not retracted her absurd claim. These people will apparently say anything in defense of their breed of obsession.

Just when it seemed that things couldn't get any crazier Ms Holmquist appeared on WBZ late last week. The interview concludes with Ms Holmquist's paean to the new law. She reminds us of the various provisions of the new bill but conveniently ignores the pit bull protection provision. It reads like a cold-war propagandist's account of the new law.

In Massachusetts, it appears that the inmates have taken over the asylum.

* * * * *

* Statistics are from Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here.

* According to the recent vote in Miami/Dade County and to several polls.

** Biggie was named by owner John Youngblood in honor of the rapper Biggie Smalls, who was killed in a Los Angeles shootout on March 19, 1997.

MA Sources:
State law trumps Worcester pit bull regs, Worcester Telegram
New state law could maul Lowell's pit bull ordinance, Lowell Sun
Mayor Menino: Animal-rights law . . . ., Boston Herald
Violent MA pit bulls now Schenectady's problem, Albany Times Union
Hundreds of pit bull attacks listed in Boston, Boston Herald
City Leaders Outraged, WBZ CBS

MA Legal Blogs:
Pit Bull Ordinances Nullified Under New State Law
The Law and Pit Bull Attacks and Pit Bull Ordinances

NJ Sources:
Laws on dangerous dogs confusing to towns, owners, attack victims (August 12)
The Record: Pet Sense (Aug 14)
Teaneck owner of pit bull agrees to muzzle, neuter his pet (Aug 15)

Effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in decreasing the incidence of dog-bite injury hospitalisations in people in the Canadian province of Manitoba

Google News Today's pit bull attacks in the US

Send comments and corrections to safeisland911 [@]