Illinois HB 1080: While Victims of Dog Attacks May Want BSL, It’s Not What’s Best for Safety’s Sake
March 18, 2011 update: According to HB 1080’s status page, HB 1080 has been kicked back down to the Rules Committee where its sponsor is most likely hoping for an assignment to a more amenable committee. We hope HB 1080 dies a well-deserved, dishonorable death in the Rules Committee because the bill and its sponsor stand for low-ball politics.
Please write the Rules Committee and politely ask them not to give in to Rep. Bradley’s attempt at an end-around of the democratic process. And yes, merely changing one word in a so-called “amendment” in order to get HB 1080 out of the Agriculture Committee where it didn’t stand a chance, and back to the Rules Committee where it is hoped that the bill will get an assignment to a committee that will pass it on to the House floor is an end-around of the democratic process. So is cancelling meeting after meeting where the bill is scheduled to be heard in committee in hopes of waiting out your opposition.
Agriculture & Conservation Committee Hearing
Mar 15, 2011, 1:00 p.m.
Stratton Building, Room 413
A couple of years ago when Illinois was considering breed-specific legislation (BSL) at the state level, week after week the meetings where the BSL was to be heard kept getting cancelled just like what is happening now with HB 1080. They were waiting everyone out because they knew most people couldn’t keep making the trip hundreds of miles from all over the state to committee meetings that kept getting cancelled. It was a subversion of the democratic process, just like what is happening now with HB 1080.
In this case, it looks like Bradley knows he clearly has no support for HB 1080 in the Agriculture Committee and so he has added some nonsense amendment (the “amendment” simply strikes out the word “the” and replaces it in some text about rabies vaccines) to the bill to try to kick it back to the Rules Committee hoping he gets a better committee assignment than Agriculture. I’m guessing the “amendment” is also why his office is misleading people telling them that HB 1080 doesn’t have a committee assignment yet when you call. Bradley is probably well aware that he has no support for the bill in the Ag Committee, but neither that, nor the fact that a majority of Illinoisans don’t want HB 1080 to pass, seems to be a deterrent for him. Usually that means there’s some special interest backing the bill from the shadows and that the bought-off “representative” has to earn his payola, er I mean, his “campaign contribution,” and pull out all the political dirty tricks to try to get the bill through.
As I’ve said in prior posts, for many reasons it is always cause for concern when dog mauling victims and/or their families push for a breed-specific legislation (especially for “pit bulls” since “pit bull” is not a breed). Their anger is understandable of course, but I submit to them that they should instead lobby for the enforcement of laws already in existence in Illinois municipalities instead of lobbying for additional laws — like breed-specific legislation (BSL) — that are impossible to enforce and that don’t keep communities safer. And remember, when enforced, dangerous dog (owner) laws, like the one Illinois already has in place, have a proven track record of success. Breed-specific legislation has proven unsuccessful nationally — most recently in Toledo, Denver, and Topeka — and worldwide — in Toronto, Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K.
Hurst, Illinois Police Chief Ronald Harvel said that the attack on Winston Bankston, the boy written about in the article below, has forced the community “to step up enforcement of leash and other animal laws already on the books.” Nearby Bush, Illinois, where the attack occurred, has also increased fines for owners of free-roaming dogs. Does no one recognize that it was the lack of enforcement of these laws that just may have caused the little boy to be attacked in the first place? So now that there is enforcement of laws that should have been enforced prior to the attack, those that failed to protect the boy want to punish law-abiding dog owners in the state of Illinois by allowing BSL? Does this sound fair? Irresponsible owners — i.e. those who bring about BSL by their irresponsible behavior — already weren’t abiding by the law before consideration of BSL; why would anyone think they would suddenly start abiding by the law when additional legislation is passed?
And HB 1080 isn’t just about “pit bulls” either. If the prohibition of BSL is overturned in Illinois, any breed of dog could be banned or restricted by any municipality in Illinois for any reason. Consider that Saginaw, Michigan is currently considering breed-specific legislation for 10 breeds of dog. Do you really think your breed of choice won’t fall under the scrutiny of those who want to end domestic pet ownership? Yes, and do the citizens of Illinois understand that when they support breed-specific legislation they are supporting the radical animal rightists’ agenda to end domestic pet ownership? Don’t believe me? Look at these quotes:
“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.” — Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the United States, Animal People, May, 1993.
“In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.” — Ingrid Newkirk, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Newsday, February 21, 1988.
It is no surprise that both PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have pushed BSL given their agenda to end domestic pet ownership (which includes agricultural animals apparently). What is surprising is how often these radical animal rightists use an emotional plea to push their onerous, rights-negating legislation — like HB 1080, which, if passed, will go on to see the deaths of thousands of innocent dogs in the state of Illinois.
“A southern Illinois mother says it has been a struggle, as she describes the difficult road to recovery her son has endured. Winston Bankston, 5, of Bush, was attacked by loose dogs last August.
The attack sent Bankston to a St. Louis hospital, where he was on a ventilator and feeding tube for several days.
…The small communities of Bush and nearby Hurst rallied around Winston’s family. They held a spaghetti dinner on August 22, 2010, to benefit the family. Frankie was given a cape for his heroic efforts to save his brother.
Besides the support, community leaders sought action. They called on Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, to help them ban specific breeds of dogs from their small towns.
“I think that small towns and villages of southern Illinois ought to have the right to govern themselves when it comes to these issues,” Bradley said.
Currently, state law only allows home rule* communities to ban specific dog breeds. Bradley says, by striking a couple words from the current law, it will give small towns and villages a level playing field.
“There’s a belief that they should have the same rights to make a decision regarding this as a home rule community would,” Bradley said.
Photos of Winston before the attack showed his zeal for life, a trait his mother says is coming back.
“He is definitely a little boy,” Culpepper said. “He is very strong, very strong-willed, and he acts like a little boy again.”
The woman who owned the two pit bull mixes that attacked Winston returns to court in May. Tanya Holland, 45, of Bush, faces multiple charges of reckless conduct in connection to the attack. Holland is out on bond.”
* A footnote: At this time, NO community in Illinois, home rule or not, can legally ban specific breeds of dog. The issue of home rule as pertains to BSL has not been established in Illinois such that anyone can recommend that Illinois municipalities pass it. Home rule authority can only be invoked to override state law for things like public safety, and since there is no scientific proof that any one dog breed is inherently dangerous, there is no justification under home rule doctrine to pass breed-specific legislation. Therefore, the home rule argument — that there is a rational basis, safety, to pass BSL — has not been proven in Illinois (or anywhere else for that matter). In fact, the home rule argument for BSL is losing steam since Toledo was ordered to stop enforcing their BSL in 2010 after an Ohio court ruled their home rule ordinance went beyond the purview of state law and was therefore unconstitutional (but not before Toledo seized and killed a whole lot of innocent dogs).