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.