Sunday, November 25, 2012

State of Denial

. . . there is no legal definition of a pit bull.
Frank Branchini, Maryland Votes for Animals

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Revised: Jan 31, 2012; 17:31 GMT

On August 28, 2012 an article about the Maryland pit bull quandary was published in the Washington Post.* The article included statements from Maryland "experts" claiming there is no legal definition of a pit bull and even, remarkably, that pit bulls don't exist.

In response SRUV published a blog post (Pit Bulls Don't Exist) which has remained among our most-viewed posts for over two months. Prior to that we published Jabberwocky, which includes examples of legal definitions as well as links to court precedents which include definitions.

After an attack by four pit bulls on November 10th, Maryland experts once again claimed there is no legal definition of a pit bull. Accounts of the attack included the comments of Frank Branchini of MVFA:
The problem with the ruling . . . . is that “there is no legal definition of a pit bull,” Mr. Branchini said.
Now there has been yet another attack, an over-the-fence attack on an 89-year old woman in her own front yard. The problem, as we see it, is not the definition of pit bulls, but that pit bulls kill a human being about every two weeks, on average, and attack humans, pets, and livestock on a daily basis. To ignore these attacks while quibbling over definitions demonstrates a depraved indifference.

To be fair, the Maryland deniers may have taken their cue from the NAIA,** which also claims There is no legal definition of “pit bull” in Maryland. To argue that the April 26 Court of Appeals ruling is flawed because it fails to include a definition of pit bulls is specious, deceitful reasoning. When a term (such as pit bull) enters the public vernacular there is no need to define it on every occasion. If we're reading a novel and are unsure of a definition, we look it up. Maryland advocates of fighting breeds could presumably do the same.

For the record, we have included yet another definition below. This definition is from Dias v. City & County of Denver, 567 F.3d 1169, 1173 (10th Cir. Colo. 2009)
A "pit bull" is defined as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one (1) or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.
Could anything be more clear, Mr Branchini?

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Elderly Pasadena woman attacked by pit bull (Capitol Gazette, Nov 22)
Pit bulls attack woman in NE apartment (Washington Times, Nov 11)

* Experts say pit bulls don't exist
** National Animal Interest Alliance

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks in the US