Several years ago, we marveled at the fact that the city of Boston — site of the Boston Tea Party — had passed breed-specific legislation (BSL). Despite what municipalities are often told, breed-specific legislation has been ruled unconstitutional in several court venues. Boston’s ordinance requires the owners of “pit bulls” and “pit bull” mixes to register their dogs with Animal Control, to muzzle their dogs in public, and to post a warning sign on their property. (It’s as if the same unconstitutional, model breed-specific law travels the country; after all, we keep seeing this same poorly-written, unjust law cropping up again and again. If only the animal rights group(s) and other shady individuals behind this model BSL would have the guts to come right on out and admit that they’re the ones pushing this heinous piece of legislation. Instead, they act as the puppet masters, manipulating city councils around the nation into believing BSL keeps communities safer.) Could the founders have conceived of such a violation of individual liberties as a breed-specific ordinance? Doubtful, and yet Boston in part gave birth to American liberty. Hmm…wonder what Samuel Adams would have done had the British tried to pass a breed-specific law.
Also, as any football fan knows, Boston is hub to a hoard of New England Patriots fans. That’s patriots, as in “people who regard themselves as defenders, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the government.” Star Pats quarterback Tom Brady also happens to have a home in Boston, as you might well expect. Well, maybe you didn’t know that Brady also happens to own a “pit bull.” But is Brady’s “pit bull” registered with Boston’s Animal Control? Not as of May 13, 2010, when the Boston Herald reported that Brady was technically a scofflaw since he had neglected to register his “pit bull” Lua. Boston’s mayor’s office said that “since Tom and his bride, Gisele Bundchen, have ‘multiple addresses,’ the dog is probably registered at ‘their primary address’.” The Boston Herald had to ponder that:
[L]et’s see if we understand this: Jet-setting pit bulls with multiple addresses get a pass, but hounds from the ’hood get slapped with a fine. Sorry, but this stinks like dog poo. Not to mention doggie discrimination!
It’s not just doggy discrimination. It’s racist too if you think about it, because who is BSL meant to target really? Is it nice, upper- or middle-class white suburbanites, or is it African-American and Hispanic owners, i.e. the ones perceived to be the predominant owners of “pit bull”-type dogs? And if you add to the misperception that most “pit bull” owners are minorities that those proposing BSL also think that most “pit bull” owners are thugs — gang bangers, drug lords, etc. — then BSL isn’t just blatantly racist, it’s classist as well.
Today the Boston Herald reports that Hyde Park (a neighborhood in Boston) Councilor Robert Consalvo,
…will Wednesday file a home-rule petition seeking the state’s blessing to attach liens against the property and excise taxes of dog owners who refuse to pay fines for snubbing the Hub’s 6-year-old pit bull ordinance.
Consalvo’s request comes on the heels of a mauling of a 12-year old by a so-called “pit bull” on Saturday in Hyde Park. Consalvo concluded that the incident “clearly shows there’s still a problem out there.” Mr. Consalvo is quite right. There’s still a problem out there. It’s called a free-roaming dog problem, not a “pit bull” problem. The other problem is that clearly the BSL that’s been in place for six years isn’t working, and yet Mr. Consalvo would add on to it?
So let’s review. 1) We’ve got a boy who was mauled by a “pit bull” despite the fact that BSL has been in place for many years. (And the dog’s breed should really be listed as being of an actual breed, if known, or as an indeterminate breed because if Animal Control and the Boston Herald are reporting the dog’s “breed” as “pit bull” then they’re automatically wrong. “Pit bull” is not a breed and in fact the slang term “pit bull” can refer to many breeds, their mixes, and lookalikes.) 2) The current breed-specific ordinance isn’t working, and yet more layers of bureaucratic BSL are being requested. (This despite overwhelming evidence that breed-specific legislation in any form doesn’t work, which is why it has been repealed in several countries in Europe and many cities here in the U.S.) 3) There appears to be a discrepancy in the enforcement of Boston’s BSL between different classes and races. Being affluent, white, and possibly famous appears to afford you a pass if you own a dog deemed to be a “pit bull”; being poor and/or a minority appears to mean you must go along with any law passed by Boston, whether it’s reasonable and just or not, or you may just have a lien put on your property.
I ask you, is this America? Because it’s starting to look more like a communist state wherein the haves lord over the poor and disenfranchised have-nots. And yes, if your elected officials disregard their constituents and the oath they took to uphold the Constitution, and do as they please, not only have they gone rogue, but they have negated your vote, which means you don’t live in a free country anymore.
So Bostonians, perhaps it’s time to remember your roots. Perhaps it’s time to remind your elected officials that they represent you; they don’t lord over you. Perhaps it’s time to not only push back against any further BSL, but to take a stand against the existing ineffectual BSL and get a more all-encompassing Animal Control law passed; one that doesn’t discriminate against any one breed, any one class, or any one race.