It is astounding that in the age of the Internet a city government and a humane society will still recite long-ago debunked urban mythology about pit bulls as gospel truth, even as these lies have been discredited for many years. Yet the Albany, Georgia Board of City Commissioners and the Albany Humane Society are reciting pit bull urban mythology and using it as reason to support the city attorney in drafting some kind of breed-specific legislation (BSL) that will restrict so-called pit bulls.
Under the proposal, pit bulls, whatever those are, will be considered prima facie “dangerous”:
Right now, if a dog bites, the owner must appear before a judge to determine if the pet is dangerous. Under the new proposal, pit bulls and similar dogs would skip the hearing and go right to punishment.
Yes, appearing before a proper judge which allows a defendant to state his or her case and be duly represented by an attorney is called due process. When a city, county, or state declares a breed or breeds dangerous — which is impossible because there is no scientific proof that any one breed is inherently dangerous or vicious — then they have actually negated the accused’s due process and equal protection rights. In other words, declaring a breed — and again, pit bull is not a breed — dangerous is unconstitutional.
And while normally a local humane society is opposed to breed-specific legislation, and rightly so since it is usually they who are flooded with owner relinquishments and dumped dogs, the Albany Humane Society is unbelievably in favor of the city council pursuing BSL:
The Albany Humane Society reported eight dog bites on employees in the last two months, 6 of which came from pit bulls. And they say a pit’s bite causes more damage than other dogs.
Pit bull is not a breed so the Albany Humane Society’s 6 out of 8 statistic is dubious. But then, why would you trust the word of a humane society who actually believes the lie that pit bulls cause more damage than other dogs?
For the millionth time, pit bulls do not have locking jaws, stronger jaws, and do not cause more damage when they bite. How do we know? Because we have scientific proof, unlike pit bull detractors. I. Lehr Brisbin, Ph.D., who is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and an expert in the training, behavior, and the anatomy of bulldog breeds has said that,
The few studies which have been conducted of the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of [American Pit Bull Terriers] show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology, is no different than that of any [other] breed of dog. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of any kind of locking mechanism unique to the structure of the jaw and/or teeth of the American Pit Bull Terrier (Source: American Dog Breeders Association, Discover the American Pit Bull Terrier).
Dr. Brisbin has also testified in a court of law under oath that,
. . . pit bulls [which the court defined earlier as American Pit Bull Terriers] do not have locking jaws. Based on actual dog dissections and measurement of their skulls, the evidence demonstrated that pit bull jaw muscles and bone structure are the same as other similarly sized dogs. No evidence was presented to demonstrate that a pit bulls bite is any stronger than other dogs of its size and build. He stated that, contrary to information relied upon and perpetuated by earlier case law and law review articles, assertions that a pit bull can bite with a ˜force of 2,000 pounds per square inch have absolutely no basis in fact or scientific proof.
The court affirmed Dr. Brisbins testimony as true.
Still, the Albany Board of City Commissioners maintains that national data somehow proves science wrong:
Commissioners said national data suggest pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs.
So the commissioners are persuaded by a mere suggestion that pit bulls are supposedly more dangerous? How about evidence like the testimony I just provided by a scientist who could back up his claim? And by national data, do the commissioners mean the CDC? Because the CDC itself discredited its own study and recommended against BSL. Do the commissioners mean Dogsbite.org? Because that “source,” if you can call it one, is nothing more than a purveyor of junk science and hysteria that is not taken seriously by anyone with two brain cells to rub together.
The pit-bulls-are-more-dangerous claim is a vague reference to what is called gameness. Again, Dr. Brisbin defined gameness as,
. . . the ability or willingness to continue doing an action once begun, i.e. ˜stick-to-it-iveness . . . Gameness, in itself, is not a negative trait. For example, the ability to carry out duties or trained tasks, despite injury, distraction, or frustration, is desirable in pit bulls which have been trained to be search and rescue dogs, protection dogs in the U.S. military, drug sniffing dogs, and therapy dogs.
It should also be noted that not all pit bulls have gameness, and indeed there are breeds of dog, like the Jack Russell Terrier, who can display gameness as well. Like any dog, pit bulls can be trained to do good or bad depending on the intent of their owners.
Ultimately pit bulls are not any more dangerous than any other dog. The slang term pit bull has been misused to describe countless breeds of dog, their mixes and lookalikes such that statistics on so-called pit bulls are wildly skewed and therefore meaningless. Yet the misguided and misled continue to use these statistics as supposed “proof” that the pit bull “breed” is inherently vicious.
But if the commissioners do concede anything it is that there will be difficulty with the breed determination part of their BSL proposal:
Leaders said classifying the dogs can be tricky, but hope the proposal will help define them.
No the proposal won’t help define pit bulls, because even Denver, long touted as a supposed BSL success story, can’t tell the difference between a pit bull, as defined by their own ordinance, and a Boxer.
As of yet, no vote is scheduled for Albany’s yet-to-be-written BSL. Hopefully in the interim between now and a vote, Albany does some actual research on BSL and discovers what even the White House now acknowledges is “largely ineffective [legislation] and often a waste of public resources.”