Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, both Dover and Dardanelle Arkansas* considered “pit bull” ban proposals. Dover, which I’ve already written about here and here, had its second reading of the proposed ordinance, and Dardanelle had its first reading.
I’ve already posted about Dover’s “pit bull” ban proposal and the city council meeting wherein it was discussed, which was full of “I feel” statements from Mayor Pat Johnson and Alderman Roger Lee. For instance, Mayor Johnson said,
“I feel that were better off doing something about it now rather than later, because Id hate for something to happen and then have to deal with it.
Yes, you do something now by enforcing your leash law and by passing a dangerous dog (owner) law, not by passing breed-specific legislation (BSL) which is well known to be impotent legislation, as Winnipeg, Manitoba and Burnaby, British Columbia can tell you since BSL actually increased their dog bite rates. BSL has also been a failed policy in the U.S. in places like Denver and Miami-Dade County with similar outcomes.
Likewise, Dover Alderman Roger Lee said,
“I feel that by moving forward with this decision that we have to put these rules in place.
What does that even mean? Yes, beware of elected officials trying to push legislation using emotion, and nonsensical gibberish apparently. If you have to use emotion as a manipulation tactic, it’s probably because your legislation isn’t above-board.
That’s Dover. Now let’s look at Dardanelle’s “pit bull” ban proposal. The Russellville, Arkansas Courier-News was sparse on details about the “pit bull” ban proposal, but Dardanelle’s Police Chief Montie Sims said,
” . . . law enforcement has increasingly seen vicious dogs, especially pit bulls, in drug houses, which makes the job of his officers more difficult.”
So why would a drug dealer, an individual who is already probably a recidivist and one who is already violating the law in a very bad way, suddenly start abiding by a law requiring him to get rid of or restrict his “pit bull”?
Even if the criminals in question did get rid of their “pit bulls,” as Winnipeg can tell you — Winnipeg who had a problem with drug dealers’ “pit bulls” guarding crack houses in the early 90s and therefore passed a “pit bull” ban — criminals simply switch to owning other breeds that they likewise train to be aggressive guard dogs for their drug operations. Bill McDonald, CEO of the Winnipeg Humane Society, acknowledged just that:
Pitbulls were banned in the early 90s probably [in part] because of the crackhouse situation. So you had bad people making bad dogs, in effect to guard their operations . . . But bad people just move to other breeds. For example, a favorite in the last while has been mastiff-boxer crosses.
And again, because Winnipeg in a futile attempt to address their crack dealer problem passed a breed ban, all they got for their efforts was an increase in dog bite rates.
Dardanelle resident Justin Key summed up the problem in Dardanelle much more succinctly when he said of Police Chief Sims’ claim,
You dont have a dog breed problem, you have a drug dealer problem . . . “
Chair of Dardanelle’s Code Enforcement Committee Scott Moore, who recommended the “pit bull” ordinance to the Dardanelle City Council, also acknowledged a crime problem in Dardanelle when he said,
. . . he had complaints about pit bulls from several residents. He said since Russellville banned the breed in 2006, pit bull owners have come across the river to Dardanelle.
The need for the ban, Moore said, arises from people walking down the street and the pit bull being like, on a chain right beside the sidewalk and growling and barking and trying to get to the children and stuff.
Well, these irresponsible dog owners sound like perfect candidates for a dangerous dog (owner) ordinance, because it doesn’t matter what kind of dog breed an owner like that owns, he will turn it vicious and he will potentially if not actually threaten public safety. And again, if the problem in Dardanelle is crime, which it sounds like it is, then address the real problem, don’t simply put a Band-Aid in the form of BSL on the bigger wound that is a substantial crime problem.
*The Courier-News article also mentioned Morrilton, Arkansas’ pursuit of additional restrictions for “pit bull” owners because their existing BSL wasn’t working. I addressed Morrilton’s BSL in a July post which you can read here.