On Tuesday, December 3, 2013, local attorney Luci Douglass lobbied the Garden City, Kansas Commission to remove the breed-specific language that defines pit bulls as vicious from Garden City’s breed-specific law (BSL).
Since 2002, Garden City’s ordinance has defined so-called pit bulls — American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers, or mixed breeds that have the appearance of being predominantly one of those three breeds — as presumptively vicious.
Ms. Douglass noted in her appeal that,
“We know, by evidence, what leads to dog attacks. Chained and tethered dogs. Confined dogs. Dogs that are neglected, hungry, or thirsty. Dogs that become territorial . . . These are the dogs that become violent.”
She left out dogs that are not spayed and neutered, but that’s probably because she didn’t want to advocate for mandatory spay/neuter laws, which, much like BSL, also don’t work because punitive legislation seldom, if ever, works.
Still, Ms. Douglass makes a good point. When municipalities pass breed bans or some other form of breed-specific legislation, it is usually in response to a bite, attack, and/or fatality. What is seldom considered is that the dog responsible may have been a victim of abuse; abuse which almost certainly leads to heightened aggression.
For instance, in March of this year, a little boy, Ryan Maxwell, was fatally mauled in Galesburg, Illinois because he was playing near a dog that was constantly abusively tethered and starving. Yet instead of focusing on the abuse that led to the fatal mauling, the media and the anti-pit bull crowd were calling for a breed-specific ordinance.
So when and if municipalities pass BSL instead of looking at the mitigating factors (including that the dogs they call pit bulls are among the most abused dogs in the world) of a mauling or dog bite-related fatality, they’re potentially making victims of dogs that were already being abused, which is what has often led to them attacking in the first place. That, and as is known worldwide by now, breed-specific legislation does not keep communities safer. In fact, as even Denver and Miami-Dade have had to admit, their pit bull bans have actually seen dog bite-related hospitalizations significantly increase.
Thankfully, the Garden City Commission has agreed to revisit their breed-specific ordinance with City Attorney Randy Grisell agreeing to bring an amended draft ordinance before the commission at an upcoming meeting. We eagerly await the proposal.
One response to “Garden City, Kansas: Attorney Lobbies to Remove Pit Bulls from Breed-Specific Law”
Actually, the importance of spaying and neutering, encouraging regular vet care, and allowing access to obedience training and pro-social experiences were all part of the arguments presented either in the provided research packet or the slide presentation. I believe that bans and restrictions encourage conditions which contribute to undetected neglect and abuse, discourage regular vet care including sterilization and vaccinations, and constrict the world of the concerned animal in a way that makes it more difficult for the animal to appropriately react to out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Aside from the unnecessary killing of dogs who may have done nothing to deserve such a fate, blanket bans and restrictions pose significant public health concerns and divert animal control resources away from services which may be more beneficial to the safety and quality-of-life factors in a community. Most people, even those committed to animal rescue and self-identified animal lovers, will acknowledge that there are individual animals who are too unpredictable to be safely kept in a community as a pet, but those concerns are best addressed through breed-neutral ordinances, which allow resources to be apportioned across the spectrum based on need rather than arbitrarily concentrated on animals with a certain appearance. There are many daily activities which require care, training, and responsibility to minimize the risk of harm to other people, and it is not unreasonable to extend that requirement to pet ownership, and expect pet owners to be cognizant of their individual animal’s temperament, exercise needs, medical and nutritional needs, physical capabilities, and need for mental stimulation, and to recognize what situations are appropriate and inappropriate for that animal. It is also not unreasonable to ask governing bodies to refrain from erecting arbitrary barriers to the resources which encourage responsible pet ownership. While antagonists argue that there are plenty of other breeds available, so an individual doesn’t “need” to own a restricted or prohibited breed, that doesn’t take into account individuals who have a particular affinity for a given breed and prefer it because of personal history, aesthetic appearance, or benign behavioral characteristics, nor does it take into account the vast population of mixed breeds who may have some physical similarities to regulated breeds, regardless of whether or not they have any of those breeds in their ancestry, or mixed breeds with prohibited ancestry but without the physical appearance (who tend to get an arbitrary “pass” under many statutes/ordinances).