Springdale, Arkansas is again considering breed-specific legislation (BSL), a pit bull ban, as they did in 2010, and 2007. With places like Dardanelle, Dover, Garland County, Caddo Valley, West Memphis, and Marion, Arkansas, who have passed BSL or considered it, perhaps Springdale thinks it will be in good company. Yes, indeed, notice that many Arkansas communities have passed BSL because they know their constituents are most likely too poor to hire an attorney to legally challenge the unconstitutionality of these cities’ breed-specific ordinances.
These areas’ constituents may be too socio-economically disadvantaged, and as I wrote about Dardanelle, Arkansas, too full of minorities . . . or at least, maybe that’s what the town’s governance thinks. It’s no coincidence, surely, that the ethnic make-up for minorities in Springdale is about one-third Latino or Hispanic. 35.4% to be precise, according to census data. And that doesn’t include the 1.8% the population that is African-American or black.
So, just as I did with Dardanelle, I will ask: Is Springdale using a pit bull ban to racially profile? Is there an underlying assumption that minorities, particularly minorities with pit bulls, are criminals?
But that’s not what Springdale is saying. Springdale is claiming a pit bull problem. According to Springdale’s own bite statistics, there were 135 bite incidents between Jan. 1, 2011, and Oct. 23, 2013 which resulted in citations for the harboring of a vicious animal. Of those 135 bite incidents, 123 were of purported known breed. Of those 123, 65 were supposedly resultant of pit bulls or pit bull mixes for a bite tally for so-called pit bulls at 52.8%.
If Springdale is referring to pit bulls as if they were an actual breed, then their statistics are skewed and therefore worthless. Pit bull is not a breed, it is a type which can include countless breeds of dog, their mixes, and lookalikes. So for Springdale to claim that they have a pit bull problem because supposedly over 50% of biting dogs in their city are so-called pit bulls, is at the very least a huge misrepresentation and at the most, an out-and-out lie.
And of these supposedly “known breeds,” how many of them, including the so-called pit bulls, have breed club registration papers? Because barring a DNA test, though DNA results are often dubious as well, only breed registration papers can definitively prove breed lineage. Just ask Denver who has had a dilly of a pickle of a time discerning what is and is not a pit bull as defined by their own ordinance.
So if Springdale is relying on their Animal Control Officer, law enforcement, or the dog-bite victim to determine breed, and their mere subjective opinion is what constitutes a “known breed,” then Springdale’s statistics are that much more suspect. Just like in 2010, the problem in Springdale isn’t pit bulls; it’s a dog containment problem. Pass BSL in Springdale, and all that you’ll guarantee is that the rest of the dog-owning population won’t be policed well, if at all, and that the so-called pit bull-owning population will not be policed effectively. Wouldn’t the little Animal Control enforcement that Springdale has be better invested in policing all dogs and their owners the same under a dangerous dog (owner) law?