Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Trojan Horse in Albany

A Trojan Horse is revealed
in proposed Breed Specific Legislation

Johanna Falber, the founder of Atlanta-based Stubby’s Heroes, rode into town in early February to instruct the Albany City Commission on their proposed Breed Specific Legislation. Ms Falber informed the Commission that BSL doesn't work and she warned the Commission that the city faces possible litigation if it moves forward with the proposed legislation.

Johanna Falber (Pinterest; accessed March 2, 2014)

It is not known if Ms Falber was present in Atlanta two weeks after her lecture to the Albany Commission, when Angela Rutledge, a suburban Atlanta (Fulton County) resident, came to the Capitol to talk about the pit bull that killed her son Beau. The pit bull, Kissy Face, was the Rutledge's much-loved family pet, which they had purchased as a puppy eight years before, and which had never before shown aggression. Neighbors recall the family walking through the well-manicured cul-de-sac with Kissy-face every evening.
His neck was almost severed from his body. He was laying in his blood, and I was sliding in the blood, it was squirting everywhere. I was sliding in the blood trying to call 911. I kept dropping the phone because I was so shaken.
Jeremiah Rutledge, Beau's father, was so distraught when he arrived at the scene that law officers found it necessary to subdue him. Both Angela and her husband were taken to hospitals for observation.

Beau Rutledge; d. April 24, 2013

Jeremiah Rutledge now says that pit bulls cannot be domesticated. Ms Rutledge, who for eight years believed that a pit bull raised in a loving home would be a safe, reliable dog, has become an eloquent speaker about the dangers of living with pit bulls. Would Ms Falber insist that Beau's death was the result of irresponsible owners?

* * * * *

The legislation that brought Ms Falber to Albany is currently tabled but will be reconsidered later this summer. The ordinance in its current form requires registration of pit bulls, requires owners to carry $100,000 in liability insurance, and requires that the animals be confined in specific enclosures. All of these provisions are found in hundreds of breed specific ordinance across the country. There is agreement among the Commissioners that the ordinance will pass with minor revisions.

But there is lingering doubt about identifying pit bulls. According to WALB,
The city will bear the burden of proof against owners, and will need to conduct DNA tests to prove if the dog is a pit bull, a definition set by city leaders. Each test will cost $75, and some worry it will be a drain on the city's budget.
This red herring has been encouraged by pit bull advocacy web sites1 but identification has never proved to be a major problem in the cities with existing BSL. Legal definitions of pit bulls have survived court challenges up to the Supreme Court.2

In related incidents, there have been at least three deaths attributed to bullmastiffs in the US in recent days;3, 4, 5 two of these deaths were children killed within the space of three days. Back-yard breeders have been crossing pit bulls with bullmastiffs, and it is evident these dogs pose a new and unusual threat to public safety. To insure that cities do not become involved in endless litigation, the definition of a pit bull must be expanded to included those dogs which are often cross-bred with pit bulls, including bullmastiffs.6

But the Trojan Horse the Commissioners must confront is the suggestion that the city will bear the burden of canine DNA testing; this presumption, encouraged by advocates of fighting breeds, is baseless. There is not a single responsible humane official who believes that DNA tests can identify a pit bull. MARS Veterinary Panel, the leading provider of canine DNA tests, is unambiguous on this point:
Due to the genetic diversity of this group, we cannot build a DNA profile for the Pitbull.7
Written legal definitions of pit bull type dogs, based on AKC and UKC breed standards and allowing for the cross- and interbreeding of pit bulls with other breeds, have effectively served hundreds of American cities, for decades. The Albany Commissioners should do no less for their own citizens.

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1 For example see Bless the Bullys (January 15, 2014) and others.
2 Duhaime Legal Dictionary
3 Klonda Ritchey, Ohio; Feb 7, 2014; killed by 2 pit bull/bull mastiff mixes
4 Kenneth Santilla (13 yo), New Jersey; Feb 28, 2014; New Jersey cops identify boy killed by bull mastiff
5 Baby Doe (2 yo), Killeen, TX; March 2, 2014; Bull mastiff attacks and kills 2-year old
6 View or download the Omaha NE legal definition of a pit bull
7 View or download letter from Mars Veterinary Panel

Albany City Commission decides to table pit bull ordinance
   Albany Herald, February 27, 2014
Pit bull ordinance stalls
   WALB News ABC10, February 25, 2014
Albany City officials defend need for pit bull ordinance
   Albany Herald, February 18, 2014
Victims rally at Georgia Capitol for pit bull ban
    Atlanta 11 Alive, February 18, 2014
City leaders prepare to vote on controversial pit bull law
    WALB10 ABC, February 18, 2014
Mother fights for vicious dog ban in Georgia
   CBS Atlanta 46, February 17, 2014
Albany City Commissioner tries to take the bite out of city ordinance
   Albany Herald, February 12, 2014
Albany City Commission continues discussion of pit bull ordinance
   Albany Herald, February 4, 2014
Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta maneuvers to hold up pit bull ordinance
   Albany Herald, January 14, 2014
Albany City Commission to consider pit bull legislation
   Albany Herald, January 11, 2014

See also: Baby Beau Foundation

32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; September 27, 2014

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

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

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks