Monday, May 21, 2012

Safety and Comfort

Revised Sun May 27, 2012; 00:38 EST
NM State Senate (42 individual members)
The Board of Directors, Animal Humane NM
Peggy Weigle, Executive Director, Animal Humane NM
Las Cruces City Council

SRUV is currently investigating the conflation of Golden Retrievers with pit bulls, which is endemic on the web. A recent statement from Animal Humane NM claimed that
A golden retriever is capable of inflicting just as much damage as a pit bull
This statement was made following the canine homicides of two people in New Mexico, and coincides with our investigation of Golden Retrievers and pit bulls.

SRUV has also written previously about events in New Mexico, following the death of Margaret Salcido on Easter of 2011.*   SRUV and many other members of the animal welfare community commend Senator Sue Beffort for her efforts in behalf of public safety last year. Unfortunately, the advocates of fighting breeds are well-funded and well-organized, and are effective at blocking legislation to restrict fighting breeds.

The canine homicide this week of Maryann Hanula in neighboring Arizona illustrates the human cost of pit bull attacks.  Seventy-three year-old Hanula endured 13 surgeries and suffered for seven months after being mauled last October in Surprise, Arizona. A police spokesman said the Maricopa County Attorney's Office will likely not charge the owner of the pit bulls, because her dogs did not have a history of violence.

A human who murders another human is held accountable, even if he does not have a previous history of violence. Why have we changed the rules to excuse pit bulls?  The advocates of fighting breeds insist that Dangerous Dog Laws (DDL) are more effective and more fair than Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). This is the achievement of the advocates of fighting breeds: that no dog should be held accountable.

DDL takes various forms in different municipalities, but the effect is generally something like this:  if DDL are applied at all, they often require hearings, delays, committee meetings, delays, appeals, delays, and more delays before a dog can be claimed to be potentially dangerous.  Then if the dog attacks a second time, a further round of meetings are convened before the dog is found to be dangerous, and then again before the dog is labeled a vicious dog.

This is only a mild exaggeration, for few dogs that go through this bureaucratic snarl are ever held accountable. A dog may attack repeatedly, and even then the dog is often still considered a family pet, and allowed to remain with the owner.

Who doesn't understand  that dogs which have mauled a 73-year old woman have at that moment established a history of violence, and represents an threat to public safety?  Maryann Hanula endured seven months of agony before succumbing to her wounds; the family is saddled with a lifetime of debt; and the pit bulls that killed her continue to sleep in the safety and comfort of their home.

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Compulsive Reflex