The Livingston County, Kentucky Magistrates meet tonight, July 23, 2013, to discuss County Judge Executive Chris Lasher’s breed-specific ordinance proposal. As we noted in a prior post, the ordinance would restrict Rottweilers, Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and that non-existent breed pit bull. Even Lasher himself refers to “pit bull-type dogs” which could be any combination of dog breeds, their mixes, and lookalikes, which is why breed-specific legislation (BSL) in any form has been ineffective, impotent legislation.
In fact, BSL has also proven ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional nationwide resulting in its repeal in many areas. For instance, Annapolis, Missouri repealed their breed ban in July 2013 when they saw it was unfairly targeting responsible owners, and Osawatomie, Kansas repealed their two-decades long breed ban on June 5, 2013, after one of their residents proved that a dog the city had deemed a “pit bull” was actually a Boxer mix.
Likewise, Toledo, Ohios BSL was ruled unconstitutional in January 2010 as it went well beyond the purview of state law and violated home-rule doctrine. Additionally it was determined that Toledo’s Animal Control Officer could not properly identify what was a “pit bull” based on their own ordinance. The Ohio legislature then went on to remove the archaic dangerous dog designation for “pit bulls” in 2012.
Also, on March 9, 2011, Midwest City, Oklahoma was ordered to stop enforcing their “pit bull” ban as it was ruled unconstitutional. Rockville Centre, New York also repealed their BSL July 23, 2010, citing its unconstitutionality, and Topeka, Kansas repealed their BSL September 28, 2010, citing its ineffectiveness.
These cities’ repeals of BSL illustrate perfectly how and why BSL doesn’t work: It’s unconstitutional, it’s ineffective, and it’s unjust, seeing as how many Animal Control Officers cannot even tell what is and is not a “pit bull” as defined by their own ordinances. Indeed, making proper breed determinations is a considerable problem with any breed-specific provision — whether a ban or breed-specific restrictions — particularly with mixed breeds or breeds that have the same appearance as the restricted breeds. It is difficult even for experts to properly determine breed at times, especially with mixed breeds, which is why such bans/restrictions have been found to be a violation of due process afforded every American under the 14th amendment.
For example, in the 2004 case of Margolius v. The City of Denver, it was shown that Mr. Margolius’ due process rights were violated when Denvers own Animal Control Officers could not discern what was and was not a “pit bull” as defined by their own ordinance. Denver violated dog owners’ due process rights again when The Denver Daily News reported that in January 2011 (and in 2009) Denver’s Animal Control officers could not tell the difference between a Boxer mix and what Denver’s ordinance defined as a “pit bull.” The findings in these cases are a wake-up call for those who claim that Denver’s “pit bull” ban has been successful.
I will say it again, if Mr. Lasher can acknowledge that there have been 91 incidents in Livingston County with so-called pit bull-type dogs in the past two years, then he has acknowledged three things: 1) Livingston County has a free-roaming dog problem, 2) Livingston County needs to beef up it’s Animal Control enforcement which it does by hiring additional ACOs, 3) Like so many Animal Control Officers, Mr. Lasher is bad at breed determinations too if he continues to insist on calling countless breeds of dog, their mixes, and lookalikes “pit bull-type dogs.”
Perhaps Mr. Lasher picked up the term “pit bull-type dog” from the CDC study “Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998” which has long-ago been debunked, namely by the CDC themselves. The CDC agreed that BSL is ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional as well concluding that,
Breed-specific legislation does not address the fact that a dog of any breed can become dangerous… From a scientific point of view, we are unaware of any formal evaluation of the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing fatal or nonfatal dog bites. An alternative to breed-specific legislation is to regulate individual dogs and owners on the basis of their behavior.
Yet, according to local station WPSD NBC 6, Mr. Lasher maintains that,
“We believe [BSL is] government working to make sure our communities remain safe and are safe”…
I’ve demonstrated many times in this post alone how and why breed-specific legislation doesn’t keep communities safer and offers only a false sense of security. How about you Mr. Lasher? Have you any evidence that BSL is any more than a false sense of security at the cost of the trampled rights of owners of the breeds you listed in your ordinance proposal?
WPSD also notes that Livingston County resident Carl Buford, whose dog ‘Rebel’ stands to be affected, has started a petition and that a Facebook group has been started called “Fight For Our Dogs Rights In Livingston County.”