North Carolina Representatives Rodney Moore and Larry Pittman’s HB 956 Would Regulate Ownership of “Aggressive Dog Breeds”
April 25, 2013 update: According to the Wall Street Journal, HB 956 “died in committee.” According to its sponsor, Rep. Rodney Moore, “he wasn’t sure that the breeds designated by the bill as aggressive are ones ‘with the most incidents,’ but he said they ‘were the most prevalent by the feedback that I’ve gotten’.” Really? So “Representative” Moore proposed HB 956 with no more than anecdotal “evidence” as “proof” that these breeds were “aggressive”? Perhaps we should lobby for a bill to mandate minimum IQ requirements for potential “representatives.”
North Carolina HB 956, sponsored by Representative Rodney Moore and co-sponsored by Representative Larry Pittman, has a laundry list of nanny-state requirements (including the type of background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that we have seen in gun control laws!) in order for North Carolinians to own dog breeds the bill defines as “aggressive.” An “aggressive dog breed” is erroneously defined as “any of the following breeds of dog and dogs that are predominantly of any of the following breeds”:
(1) Pit bull, including the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed, American Staffordshire Terrier breed, and
American Pit Bull Terrier breed.
(5) Perro de Presa Canario.
The term “aggressive dog breed” also includes wolf hybrids.
Besides the unconstitutional vagueness of describing “dogs that are predominantly of” the listed breeds and the invasiveness and extremeness of a criminal background check required to own an “aggressive breed,” the bill additionally requires owners of “aggressive breeds” to enroll,
…in a course of instruction of no less than four hours’ duration provided by the Humane Society of the United States, or any of the rescue organizations for any of the aggressive dog breeds as defined in subsection (a) of this section, that is designed to educate the owners of these dogs about their temperament and about the requirements for responsible ownership of the breed, or any other similar course of instruction approved by the Department of Insurance…
Would this be the same “Humane” Society of the United States (HSUS) whose president said,
“We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.”
which any reasonable, thinking person could take to mean that the HSUS would like to see the end of domestic animal ownership and that breed bans and breed-specific legislation, like HB 956, might be one way that they go about systematically ending domestic animal ownership?
And would this be the same “Humane” Society of the United States that lobbied to have all of Michael Vick’s “pit bulls” summarily killed even though all but one passed their temperament testing? The same “Humane” Society of the United States that was collecting donations from the public for the care of Vick’s dogs which they didn’t even have in their possession? (i.e. fraud.) You mean that “Humane” Society of the United States? The same HSUS whose convicted felon claims to be an “expert” on dog fighting I guess simply because they say he is? The same HSUS whose operatives are never vetted by the media (or the FBI or the IRS or any other governmental organization that claims to be investigating the HSUS’ criminal malfeasance but never actually indicts or convicts them)? You mean, that “Humane” Society of the United States?
So let me get this straight, the authors of this bill (and are we to assume that’s the Humane Society of the United States since they are mentioned by name as part of the nanny-state ridiculousness that is this bill?) require owners of breeds that they randomly and arbitrarily define as “aggressive” with no scientific evidence or basis in fact, to take a course offered by the Humane Society of the United States? Will this course be taught by convicted felons too? You know, because isn’t this the same Humane Society of the United States that was on the Department of Homeland Security’s watch list as having suspected financial ties to ecoterrorism???
Despite this bill being wholly unconstitutional — since breed-specific legislation (BSL) is a violation of the 14th amendment right to due process and equal protection under the laws, and since there is no scientific evidence that any one dog breed is more aggressive than another and therefore no rational basis to ban or restrict them — the supposition that these breeds are “aggressive” is not supported by scientific data. First of all, there is no “breed” “pit bull,” and even though the bill defines “pit bulls” as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed, American Staffordshire Terrier breed, and American Pit Bull Terrier breed, these are three distinct breeds they are defining as one, which skews statistics right there. Add to these erroneous statistics on these three breeds, the fact that many of these breeds’ mixes and lookalikes are also counted as so-called “pit bulls,” and statistics on “pit bulls,” whatever a “pit bull” is, are ridiculously skewed, meaningless, and therefore worthless. Yet elected officials keep referring to this non-existent “breed” “pit bull” as if it actually existed as one and only one breed! How absurd!
Even more absurd is that the urban mythology of that non-existent “breed” “pit bull” continues to be disseminated, even in legislation, though it has long been debunked. For instance, the claim that “pit bulls” are more aggressive or more dangerous than the average canine is just another variant of the locking-jaws/more-powerful-jaws urban mythology of the “pit bull,” which is wholly false. In 2005 Dr. Brady Barr in a show for National Geographic called “Dangerous Encounters” conducted bite-force tests for several kinds of animals. Also included in the tests were three breeds of dog: the German Shepherd, the Rottweiler, and the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT). Of the three, the American Pit Bull Terrier had the least amount of bite force, which was found to be well below the average dog’s 320-pound bite pressure. This is quite a substantial difference from the laughable 2,000 pound per square inch bite force we were told “pit bulls” had (and even more ridiculous still when you consider Great White Sharks have a bite force of 1,000 pounds per square inch).
Further, I. Lehr Brisbin, Ph.D., who is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and an expert in training, handling, behavior and the anatomy of bulldog breeds has said that,
“The few studies which have been conducted of the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of [American Pit Bull Terriers] show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology, is no different than that of any [other] breed of dog. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of any kind of ’locking mechanism’ unique to the structure of the jaw and/or teeth of the American Pit Bull Terrier” (Source: American Dog Breeders Association, “Discover the American Pit Bull Terrier”).
In testimony from the Toledo v. Tellings case in 2006, Dr. Brisbin also explained “gameness,” which many people incorrectly believe makes “pit bulls” more dangerous than other “breeds” of dog. The court affirmed Dr. Brisbin’s findings that,
“Many pit bulls [which the court defined prior as meaning the American Pit Bull Terrier] may also exhibit a behavior or trait referred to as ‘gameness,’ which, simply stated, is the ability or willingness to continue doing an action once begun, i.e. ’stick-to-it-iveness.’ Gameness, in itself, is not a negative trait. For example, the ability to carry out duties or trained tasks, despite injury, distraction, or frustration, is desirable in [APBTs] which have been trained to be search and rescue dogs, protection dogs in the U.S. military, drug sniffing dogs, and therapy dogs.”
As ever, dogs of any breed can be trained to do good things, or, if left unattended like when an owner allows a dog to free-roam, dogs may do less than desirable things. The less than desirable things are more conspicuous, certainly, but are still an indication of an owner problem, not a breed problem. The irresponsible owner problem isn’t going to go away simply by banning or restricting the breed of dog they own since these types of irresponsible owners — who are in the extreme minority compared to the majority of responsible dog owners — typically demonstrate their unwillingness to abide by the law well before breed-specific legislation is even ever proposed.
Those proposing breed-specific legislation (BSL) use public safety as the reason for pushing breed bans/restrictions, at the same time, ironically, failing to prove that the public is in danger. That’s because they can’t prove that any one breed, or even an amassing of breeds, represents a danger. There is no study that proves — at least via properly-gleaned data which employs the scientific method — that there is any such thing as an inherently vicious breed or breeds. There are, however, junk science “studies,” faulty statistics, hysteria, and a media propagating that hysteria, that label almost every attacking, biting, or killing dog a “pit bull” (or on infrequent occasions, other breeds like Rottweilers, etc.) though, as already noted, there is no such breed. Indeed, when even Chihuahuas are mistaken for “pit bulls” what breed of dog can’t be called a “pit bull”?
HB 956 was just filed yesterday and doesn’t have a committee assignment yet but in the interim, you can monitor this asinine bill here. We’ll be posting updates to this ridiculous piece of legislation as they become available.
*Special thanks to Pamela Wright for the head’s up on this bill.