Updated November 5, 2013
With 50,000 stray dogs supposedly roaming the ruins of Detroit like some kind of scene from out of ‘Mad Max’, with psychopaths stabbing and hanging an innocent “pit bull” in Lansing (Although look at this picture. This dog is clearly a mastiff.), and after a dog was found dead inside a bag with multiple stab wounds, broken bones, and a slit throat, likewise in southwest Lansing, Michigan is a state on fire with lawlessness. Amidst all this chaos, Flint, Michigan is to propose a mandatory “pit bull” registry to solve what is made out to be a “pit bull” problem.
“Pit bull” problem? Flint (and Detroit, and Lansing, and Saginaw) doesn’t have a “pit bull” problem! Flint (and Detroit, and Lansing, and Saginaw) has a crime problem resultant of an economic depression. And yet Flint City Councilman Sheldon Neeley,
. . . wants pit bull owners charged with a crime if the dogs attack people.
The new ordinance would force pit bull owners to register their dog with police. If the dog gets runs [sic] free and attacks someone, the dog owner could get a $500 fine and face 90 days in jail.
Take out the breed-specific part, and most people would agree with Councilman Neeley that his proposal would make for an excellent dangerous dog (owner) law, though Flint already has a vicious dog law it’s not enforcing.
So why just single out so-called “pit bulls”? And again, if Lansing Animal Control is any indication, authorities can’t seem to tell the difference between what ordinances typically define as a “pit bull” — American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, etc. — and a mastiff.
Neeley, who hopes to introduce the ordinance in September or October, expounded on his proposal adding,
First, were looking at pit bulls and then broaden (the ordinance) as needed, Neeley said.
Isn’t Neeley looking at that backwards? It shouldn’t be “pit bulls” and later add-ons; it should be all dogs and all dog owners policed the same.
Apparently this isn’t Neeley’s first try at passing something breed-specific since he attempted BSL in his first term as well. Gosh, do you ever get that sinking feeling like certain “elected” officials may have been put upon to pass BSL as if they were under orders from a higher-up? It would explain why, when they aren’t successful in their first term, they get appointed to a second. (In this way, Neeley reminds me of Saginaw, Michigan Councilman Bill Scharffe. Wow, remember that guy? What a piece of work he was!)
Flint seems to be getting its bad information, at least in part, from the Michigan Municipal League. Well, if the Michigan Municipal League is anything like the Illinois Municipal League, their recommendation to push BSL with the supposed assurance that it’s constitutional, though it’s absolutely not constitutional, will be based on almost 30-year old court cases that have long since been replaced by better and more scientifically-based precedent. (And if you’re bored some day, check out some of these archaic court cases; cases that claimed, for instance, that so-called “pit bulls” had a pound-per-square-inch bite pressure of 2,000 pounds! How anyone ever fell for that I will never know, but I still come across the occasional idiot who recites that kind of long-debunked “pit bull” urban mythology with alarming surety.)
As this article from the Business Insider observes,
In the last three years, Flint’s finances have collapsed to the point that the city has had to lay off two-thirds of its police force. A New York Times reporter spent an evening riding around with two of the remaining cops as they cruised “Murder City USA.”
The New York Times adds,
Last year in Flint, population 102,000, there were 66 documented murders. The murder rate here is worse than those in Newark and St. Louis and New Orleans. Its even worse than Baghdads.
We aint cops anymore, [Flint police officer Steve] Howe says. Were librarians. We take reports. We dont fight crime.
Does Mr. Neeley and the Flint City Council maybe want to address the rampant crime resulting from the auto industry leaving Michigan instead of scapegoating “pit bulls”? Because even a person who has never stepped foot in Michigan can tell that the real problem in Flint and other Michigan cities is crime, not “pit bulls.” You don’t solve the crime problem by passing breed-specific legislation; you solve the crime problem which eliminates the need for the pretense that is breed-specific legislation.
So before Flint knee-jerks and passes impotent legislation that it can’t possibly enforce, city officials might want to take a look at cities like Winnipeg, Manitoba and Denver, Colorado where BSL actually increased their dog bite rates. Likewise, Miami-Dade County recorded similarly high percentages of dog bites. Yes, there is ample evidence that BSL does not make communities safer and that in fact BSL makes communities much less safe by increasing dog bite incidences.
Forget passing BSL, Flint should enforce its existing vicious dog law. Indeed, since it already has an unprecedented murder rate thanks to its police force being down by two-thirds, what chance does the city have of enforcing additional legislation like a breed-specific ordinance?
[Photo courtesy of the Business Insider from the article “What Happens To A City When The Money Runs Out?“]