Like others on Friday, I read Mlive’s article entitled “Flint councilman rethinks plan to single out pit bulls in proposed dog registry ordinance” and thought that Councilman Sheldon Neeley was removing the pit bull language from his pit bull registry ordinance proposal. That would be a reasonable conclusion considering three paragraphs into the article Neeley says, “Its a good chance that its going to be removed.”
By “it” Neeley means the breed-specific legislation (BSL) part that singles out pit bulls would be removed from his ordinance proposal, or there’s a good change that it will be removed. I wonder if that also means there’s a good chance it won’t be removed. And if it were true that there was just as much of a chance of the pit bull language not being removed, let’s say 50-50, then Neeley’s statement would be quite misleading, wouldn’t it?
If you read down through the article, about the seventh paragraph, a removal of the pit bull language may not at all be what Councilman Neeley is planning. Neeley said,
Im not getting rid of the pit bull “ its not going to say pit bulls exclusive and only. And the goal was always owner responsibility.
So either Neeley was double-speaking, or the writer misquoted him, because now it looks like Neeley is not getting rid of the pit bull language.
Or were Mlive readers not supposed to read down that far and see the fine print that Neeley has no intention of taking out the pit bull language, or at least not all of it? Or was Neeley prior just referring to the fact that the Flint City Council may remove the pit bull language in a vote, but that Neeley himself has no intention of doing so?
Let’s pretend Councilman Neeley and the writer at Mlive weren’t trying to mislead readers, what would be left if the pit bull language was removed from Neeley’s ordinance by the rest of the Flint City Council not hellbent on passing impotent legislation their police force has no means or manpower to enforce? According to Mlive, “Instead of limiting the law to specific breeds, any animal owner would be criminally liable.”
So why didn’t Neeley just propose a revamped dangerous dog law and/or a dangerous dog registry in the first place? Why the bait-and-switch?
We’ve seen the ol’ switcheroo before. Some communities are so scared of breed-specific legislation that once the named breeds are removed from the ordinance proposal, they’ll happily accept the “compromise,” whatever that compromise is. Sometimes it’s a dangerous dog law that can be just as deadly as a breed ban. Sometimes, like in Flint’s case, it’s an overarching dangerous dog registry instead of a pit bull registry.
Neeley himself said of the supposed removal of the pit bull language from his ordinance proposal that,
This is about a common compromise between all parties to obtain the same goals and objectives, Neeley said, adding he hopes to bring the proposed ordinance to the Flint City Council in December.
Don’t you wonder whose goals and objectives he’s trying to obtain? Maybe what is viewed as a “compromise” was the intent all along. After all, it’s not a compromise when you get exactly what you wanted, whether a pit bull registry or a dangerous dog registry. For Neeley, it’s a win-win.
Maybe Neeley doesn’t have support from the rest of the council for his breed-specific law singling out so-called pit bulls for a dangerous dog registry. But if Neely is able to pass a dangerous dog registry, he wins anyway because it looks like the point all along was to get some form of nanny-state, Big Brother piece of legislation passed.
In this case, it looks like the nanny-state legislation Neeley was tasked with passing was in fact a dangerous dog registry. Neeley says, “the goal was always owner responsibility.” Was it really owner responsibility he was after, or owner tracking under the guise of tracking so-called dangerous dogs? Indeed, for Neeley, it looks like the dangerous dog registry might be an even bigger win than the pit bull registry.
[Photo courtesy of the Business Insider from the article “What Happens To A City When The Money Runs Out?“]