Editors note: Media reports conflict as to whether Waxhaw is looking at a breed-specific ordinance or not, but since they are researching new legislation, perhaps it would be a good idea to send them some information about the ineffectiveness of breed-specific legislation (BSL). Indeed, in the aftermath of the death of little 5-year old Makayla Woodward and the serious injuring of her great grandmother, it is all the more important to address the problem of free-roaming dogs with legislation that encompasses all dogs, because pit bulls (and pit bull is not actually a breed) are not the only dogs that free roam. It is the free roaming that makes a dog potentially dangerous, not its breed. And breed-specific legislation has more than proven in this country and worldwide to be ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional.
Please write the Waxhaw Mayor and City Council and politely inform them that a breed-specific ordinance will not prevent further attacks but that a well-enforced leash law and dangerous dog (owner) law which includes an escalation in fines and penalties have proven effective deterrents.
From WCNC in Charlotte, N.C.:
…Last week [Makayla Woodard] was doing what kids do every day. She was playing outside. But the simple routine turned deadly for Makayla. The kindergartner was mauled to death by a neighbor’s two pit bulls. Her grandmother was badly injured by the same dogs.
Now, Waxhaw town leaders are debating whether more needs to be done to prevent another tragedy like this from happening. Does the town need tougher, enforceable leash laws? Should pit bulls be outlawed in the Union County town altogether?
“The dogs were running around loose in the yard. This isn’t about walking the dogs on a leash,” said Michael Davis, president of the National American Pit Bull Terrier Association.
“You can only do so much, like take the dogs away or fine the guy,” he said.
Heather Young brought her 4-year-old son to the Waxhaw Commission Meeting. She owns pit bulls and says the breed is safe, as long as the owner is responsible.
“I want to make sure the discussions are level headed, not based on the emotions surrounding this incident,” she said.
Commissioners voted to study the issue. They’ll form a committee and bring in veterinarians, animal advocates and law enforcement to weigh in on what, if anything, can be done going forward.
…Waxhaw Commission Mayor Pro Tem Martin Lane says he believes the incident could not have been prevented by laws. At the end of the day, it’s about the “level of responsibility” of the pet owner, he said.
The Union County District Attorney is now investigating Makayla Woodard’s death and is expected to determine whether charges should be brought against the dog’s owner, 23-year-old Michael Gordon. Neighbors say they often saw the dogs roaming the neighborhood and felt unsafe and had complained to law enforcement. But because Union County doesn’t have leash laws, the town of Waxhaw was unable to enforce their ordinance, Lane said.
Waxhaw will hire an animal control officer next month. That hire was scheduled and is not a result of the tragedy, according to Lane.
Read this article in its entirety here.