As I’ve been writing here, here, and here, Yakima, Washington has for many months now, been considering a repeal of their circa 1987 pit bull ban in favor of a possible update to their existing dangerous dog ordinance. Yet despite all the testimony about the inefficacy of breed-specific legislation (BSL), Yakima’s City Code Enforcement Manager Joe Caruso continues to claim that Yakima’s pit bull ban has been effective.
For instance, Mr. Caruso maintains that,
- There are fewer pit bulls in Yakima every year as a result of the ordinance, down to 39 impounded by the city so far this year compared to 96 in 2009.
- The proposal would undo the pre-emptive intent of the pit bull ban, because the dangerous dog ordinance only goes into effect after the dog bites someone. He said that would equate to giving pit bulls a free bite (Tri-City Herald).
So, in a city where so-called pit bulls are banned, there are still pit bulls? According to Mr. Caruso’s own testimony, then, the pit bull ban isn’t working because as advocates have long said, the owners who are irresponsible with their dogs will either ignore a breed-specific law, which they are clearly doing in Yakima, or simply switch to irresponsibly owning other breeds of dog.
And the very acknowledgement from Mr. Caruso that indeed there are still pit bulls in Yakima despite the city’s 26-year-long ban, should illustrate that the pit bull ban itself negates its “pre-emptive intent.” Why? Because if you ban pit bulls because some of their owners are irresponsible, those irresponsible owners who were already flouting the law by being irresponsible with their dogs, will continue to flout the law by being irresponsible with their dogs no matter what breed of dogs they own. That, and as Mr. Caruso himself illustrated, some of those irresponsible dog owners have simply ignored Yakima’s breed ban and continue to own pit bulls anyway. Again, this is what Mr. Caruso calls efficacy?
It’s time Yakima. Do the right thing and replace the BSL you have 26 years of proof isn’t working, and replace it with a dangerous dog (owner) law which puts the onus on the irresponsible dog owner with escalating fines and penalties, and treats all dogs and all dog owners the same. These are things that have a proven track record of efficacy and which actually keep communities safer. Breed bans do not make communities safer as Denver and Miami-Dade can tell you since these counties have actually seen dog bite-related hospitalizations skyrocket since passing their pit bull bans.