Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Is BSL Ineffective, Expensive, and Difficult to Enforce?

Revised: December 3, 2014; 19:19 GMT
Revised: December 4, 2014; 18:45 GMT

BSL is ineffective, expensive, and difficult to enforce.

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These claims are as common as air; they're made so often that few of us question if they're actually true.

But who is it that makes these claims? And are they true?

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Last month Mike Hendricks of the Kansas City Star published an article which claimed that
research . . . shows little correlation between fatal dog bites and the breeds of the dogs inflicting those wounds, . . .1
Mr Hendricks fails to cite the source of the research, but he may have been referring to any of the numerous "studies" authored and published by pit bull advocacy groups. Independent reports, which Mr Hendricks neglects to mention, leave little doubt of the correlation between pit bulls and fatal or disfiguring attacks.

Mr Hendricks' acceptance and publication of this misinformation follows a now common pattern. Advocates of fighting breeds have repeated these unsupported assertions so often that many journalists accept them without fact-checking.

The Toronto Star recently reported pit bull attacks have virtually disappeared in the decade since BSL was enacted.2  Similarly, Sioux City records show that police officers responded to 37% fewer dog attacks in 2013 than they did in 2007, the year that Sioux City enacted their breed ban. Similar results have been reported in Antigo, Pawtucket, and every other city where good BSL legislation is enacted and enforced.

It is pit bull advocates, not the cities who pay the bills, who claim that BSL is expensive. The advocacy claims are supported by data from the BSL Fiscal Impact Cost Calculator, an advocacy tool developed under a contract from Best Friends Animal Society.3 The tool purports to show that BSL is expensive, but it does not reflect the huge costs incurred by cities that choose breed-neutral laws, rather than BSL. Cities with breed-neutral laws are notoriously plagued by huge numbers of surplus pit bulls, many of them bred by back-yard breeders, which the city must pay to warehouse in animal shelters. BSL, on the other hand, reduces the number of pit bulls in shelters. BSL also reduces the number of euthanizations, which is also a cost for the city, as well as a humane tragedy.

In addition, the advocacy cost calculator fails to address the costs of dozens or hundreds of life-flight evacuations each year, which range in cost from $15k to $50k. The cost calculator does not account for the costs incurred by victims of pit bull attacks, many of whom are left with lasting physical and emotional scars, and overwhelming financial burdens. The cost calculator ignores entirely the costs borne by thousands of victims and their families.

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So, who is it that makes the claim that BSL is ineffective, expensive, and impossible to enforce? And who is it that calls for the revocation of BSL? Choose from among the following three options:
A: Victims of pit bull attacks
B: Municipalities that currently have successful BSL
C: Advocates for pit bulls and other fighting breeds
The answer is C, of course: it is the advocates who are the source of calls to revoke BSL.

The question we must ask ourselves is: Why would the advocates of fighting breeds be allowed to determine how we legislate fighting breeds?

Allowing the advocates of fighting breeds to write the rules regulating fighting breeds appears to make sense, until you think about it.

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1   In a quiet trend, pit bull bans are disappearing
2   Pit bulls were Toronto's biggest biters before the ban, The Star, Oct 3, 2014. This and other information about the effectiveness of BSL is taken from the excellent Cities with successful BSL page on Dogsbite.org.
3  A forthcoming SRUV post will address the BSL cost calculator.

SRUV uses the definition of "pit bull" as found in the Omaha Municipal Code Section 6-163.

SRUV uses the definition of "pit bull" as found in the Omaha Municipal Code Section 6-163. As pit bulls are increasingly crossed with exotic mastiffs, Catahoula Leopard Dogs and other breeds, the vernacular definition of "pit bull" should be made even more inclusive.

Sources cited by news media sometimes refer to "Animal Advocates" or sometimes "Experts." In many cases these words are used to refer to single-purpose pit bull advocates who have never advocated for any other breeds or species of animals. Media would be more accurate to refer to these pit bull advocates as advocates of fighting breeds.

Similarly, in many cases pit bull advocates refer to themselves as "dog lovers" or "canine advocates" and media often accepts this usage. The majority of these pit bull advocates are single-purpose advocates of fighting breeds.

Recent Editorials from California, Colorado, Canada, & elsewhere in support of Breed Specific Legislation:
   Toronto Star; October 6, 2014
No on Proposition 2D: Putting an end to Aurora’s dangerous pit bull charade
   Aurora Sentinel; October 23, 2014
Pit bulls can be deadly; hold owners accountable
   Modesto Bee; November 2, 2014
Aurora right to keep pit bull ban
   Denver Post; November 6, 2014
A Dangerous Dogs Act of 2015?
   Sacramento Bee, November 7, 2014
   Modesto Bee; November 8, 2014
   Aurora Sentinel; November 18, 2014
Pit bull ban worth considering
   Wausau Daily Herald; July 20, 2014

Twenty-two Cities:
A PARTIAL list of cities that have recently enacted, upheld, strengthened, or defended their BSL:
Smithville (TX) flags pit bulls as 'dangerous' - sets requirements
   Smithville Statesman; December 3, 2014
Pit bull ban stands in Camdenton, Missouri
   Lake News Online; November 19, 2014
Attempt to repeal pit bull ban crushed in Colorado
   Animals 24-7; November 5, 2014
Enumclaw City Council upholds city’s long-standing ban on pit bulls
   News-Tribune; October 14, 2014
KALB News Channel 5; Moreauville, LA
On October 13, the village passed an ordinance that states if you own a pit bull or a Rottweiler, you must get rid of it by December 1 or they will take it for "disposition." (Note: this ban is on hold after one family brought national attention to the ban.)
Clay, Alabama to defend pit bull ban in court
   ABC3340.com; September 1, 2014
Fort Thomas mayor decides vote to keep pit bull ban
   Community Press; August 5, 2014
Reynoldsburg council refuses to repeal pit-bull ban
   Columbus Dispatch; July 29, 2014
Wellsville nips push to neuter pit bull ban
   Ottowa Herald; July 11, 2014
 Board toughens rules for pit bulls  Carroll County, MS
   Greenwood Commonwealth; July 9, 2014
 Parma City Council unlikely to remove pit bull ban anytime soon
   Cleveland.com; February 11, 2014
City Council upholds ban on pit bulls in Yakima
   Global News; September 30, 2013
BSL Ordinance enacted in Goodland, KS
   NWKS.com; July 16, 2013
Waterford Township Decides to Keep Pit Bull Ban in Place
   Oakland Press; June 11, 2013
City votes to keep pit bull ban
   Ogemaw County Heald; April 2, 2013
Town of New Llano bans pitbull dogs
   Leesville Daily Leader; March 27, 2013
   Miami Herald; August 13, 2012
Preston will keep pit bull ban
   Herald Journal; July 19, 2011
Council votes to keep pit bull ban
   Sioux City Journal; June 28, 2010

Other Sources:
Growth of no-kill policies can jam animal shelters
   Kansas City Star; August 30, 2014
Pit bulls far outpace other breeds in bite reports
   Sun-Sentinel; March 8, 2013
Cities with successful Breed-Specific Legislation

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

2014 Year-end report of dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; January 3, 2015
32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; September 27, 2014
How many other animals did pit bulls kill in 2014?
   Animals 24-7; January 27, 2015

This page may also include information from Dogsbite &Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks

2014 Dog Bite Related Fatalities on Daxton's Friends
Index of canine fatalities on Daxton's Friends