Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana to Consider Breed-Specific Law for “Pit Bulls”
Tangipahoa Parish Animal Control Director Chip Fitz has, for over a year, crafted changes to the Parish’s vicious dog ordinance which will soon be considered by the Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana Council. While the ordinance changes propose to further crack down on vicious dogs and presumably their owners, the problem is, the proposed changes will be breed-specific restricting so-called “pit bulls.”
Because the proposed ordinance changes are breed-specific and because the article about the ordinance changes mentions that the breed-specific law (BSL) will be for “pit bulls” and yet does not define what the city thinks a “pit bull” is, residents should be wary. Why? Because if the city doesn’t know what a “pit bull” is (and here’s a hint: There is no breed “pit bull”) how is anyone else supposed to comply with their ordinance?
According to The Daily Star, Animal Control Director Fitz has created the breed-specific ordinance changes “by comparing policies from other jurisdictions.” So what provisions will the draft ordinance likely include?
Fitz said he’s leaning toward requiring people who own pit bulls to have the dogs licensed, vetted and micro-chipped.
“If we have an animal able to do damage, we want to be able to track it,” he said.
Okay, it’s understandable that the Parish would want to track an animal that had prior been a danger to the community, but what does that have to do with a specific breed?
Fitz himself acknowledged, “every dog will bite,” so why focus on one “breed” to the exclusion of other dogs that could potentially be dangerous in the hands of an irresponsible owner? Oh here’s why:
“My concern is traditionally when a pit bull bites, it’s bad,” [Fitz] said.
When any dog bites, it’s bad. Even small-breed dogs have been known to kill infants. So why focus on one “breed” to the exclusion of any other? But, in case you missed it, Fitz is indirectly referring to that long ago debunked urban myth about “pit bulls'” supposed locking jaws which is wholly and demonstrably false.
So what’s the real problem in Tangipahoa Parish?
One problem that has complicated the problem is the number of pit bulls now compared to past years.
“You almost can’t drive down the street without seeing one,” Fitz said.
Oh I see. So even though the Parish’s bite numbers have remained approximately the same, which Fitz himself even acknowledged — “Fitz reported dog bites in the parish have remained constant over the past two years. Animal control records showed they worked 53 bite cases in 2012 while 2011 had 55” — Fitz and the Parish still want a breed-specific ordinance because there are too many so-called “pit bulls.”
According to Fitz, there are many more “pit bulls” in the Parish and yet there are no statistically significant increases in dog bites. In other words, there’s no problem. So why pursue a breed-specific ordinance?
As I so often write, a well-enforced leash law for all dogs, a non-breed-specific dangerous dog (owner) law which places the responsibility squarely on the owner with escalating fines and penalties, and adequate Animal Control personnel are more than enough to police irresponsible dog owners; i.e. there is no need to focus on one “breed” to the exclusion of policing other dogs and other irresponsible dog owners. Please write to the Tangipahoa Parish Council here and politely inform them that breed-specific legislation, whether an outright ban or breed-specific restrictions, is ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional legislation.
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