Monday, November 24, 2014

A Remedy for Commissioner Philbrook

Revised: November 25, 2014; 13:30 GMT

Commissioner Jane Philbrook thinks there's a better way to protect people from dangerous dogs; instead of focusing on a specific breed, focus on homeowners whose dogs have a history of aggression.

It makes them more responsible, My heart goes out to [the victims]. But, the whole idea of this change is to get all the vicious dogs off the street.
-- Commissioner Philbrook (KSHB41; Nov. 18, 2014)

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This has been tried before.

On July 30, 1987 Ohio enacted state-wide Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Pit bulls, legislators argued, are the most likely breed to attack without provocation.  The BSL defined pit bulls as inherently vicious and required owners to buy insurance. As a result of the legislation shelters no longer adopted out pit bulls in Ohio.

In 2012 a group of determined Toledo-area pit bull advocates prevailed upon the legislature to revoke the BSL. The number of attacks by pit bulls soared in 2013 and 2014, and legislators are once again discussing how to reign in pit bull attacks. For many the attack that came to symbolize 2014 was the attack on Zainabou Drame in Cincinnati. The officers who responded were interviewed this week:
Officer Kyle Strunk said he'll never forget the image of that as they pulled up, seeing grown men and women vomiting on the street, reacting to what they had just witnessed.

"That's not a sight you see very often, you know, adults can't even look. They had to look away based on the violence of it,” Strunk said.

"When you see a child being slung in the air by two animals, it almost doesn't look real when you see it in person," Strunk said. "You couldn't believe it. When you pull up, you expect kind of maybe to see the dogs running away. But they were continuing to attack her, like she was a toy. That's how bad it looked. How effortless it was for the dogs to move her around. That is something, like I said, that I'll never forget.1
Six-year old Zainabou was in an induced coma for weeks, but survived. No charges have been brought against the owner of the pit bulls that mauled her. He is protected by the revised, breed-neutral dog ordinance.

Zainabou is among the fortunate. There have been at least 29 fatal pit bull attacks already in 2014 -- there is a human being killed by a pit bull every twelve days. But even that detail doesn't reveal how many people, like Zainabou, have been attacked and survive with life-altering injuries.

The number of people who have been maimed by pit bulls has quadrupled in the last five years, from less than a hundred in 2009 to 422 in 2013. In 2014 we were already approaching the 2013 record by the end of October.

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In 2012 Ohio pit bull advocates argued, like Commissioner Philbrook, that the new breed-neutral laws would make Ohio safer. Like Commissioner Philbrook they claimed the new legislation targeted vicious dogs before they attacked.
It's not really just about 'pit bulls,' it's about improving safety in our community from all dangerous dogs.2

We feel that this is not only more fair to the dogs, but also makes our state safer since the new law gives dog wardens tools to go after dangerous dogs of all breeds.3
It didn't work out that way. Ohio has had over thirty pit bull attacks this year that we know of, and at least three fatal pit bull attacks. This July, after a wave of devastating attacks, an unrepentant Ms Keating continued to insist that the revocation of Ohio's BSL is working:
[The new law] is much more proactive. It identifies dangerous dogs before they hurt people. That's where our focus needs to be: identifying these dogs long before these incidents occur.4
There is a remedy for people who continue to insist that breed-neutral laws reduce attacks: they must be unfortunate enough to witness a pit bull attack.

We offer an easier remedy. We guarantee that within ten days our remedy will change their lives, or yours. It takes only minutes a day. Here's our special offer:

The link above is a shortcut to the Google news search for current pit bull attacks -- today's and the last few days. The news isn't perfect -- many attacks are suppressed or go unreported. But anyone who clicks on the link (or types it into their url address bar) and looks at the news for just a few minutes a day will never again consider revoking BSL.

This exercise will also be useful for legislators who are charged with insuring the public safety of their citizens and their communities. Some people might consider it a civic duty to use this research tool; others, like Ms Keating, may continue to avert their eyes.

Pit bull advocates claim that Breed Specific Legislation is expensive, it is ineffective, and it is difficult to enforce. Are these claims true?

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1   Officer recounts day he, 3 others saved girl from pit bull mauling
2   Jean Keating, Lucas County Pit Crew
     Pit bull advocates to mark change to vicious dog law
     Toledo Blade, May 18, 2012
3   John Dinon, HSUS;
     Former Exec. Director Toledo Area Humane Society
     House axes 25-year-old 'pit bull' law
     Toledo Blade, February 9, 2012
4   Jean Keating, Lucas County Pit Crew
     Pitbull attacks spark debate about change in state law
     July 23, 2014; WNWO NBC

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

Other Sources:
Ohio reeling from pit bull attacks
Timeline of Ohio pit bull attacks.

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

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

Sources: Attack on Jimmie May McConnell:
Family of woman mauled by pit bull angry as commissioners decide on lifting ban
   KSHB41; November 18, 2014
Kansas City, KS Man found guilty in pit bull attack case (page archived)
   Kansas City Star; April 4, 2008
   (Original page removed; page now reprinted here)
 New Trial Starts in KCK Pit Bull Death; Apri 1, 2008
71-Year-Old Kansas City Woman Killed by Pit Bull
   ABC News; July 29, 2006