Kearney, Missouri Advocacy Group Seeks Repeal of “Pit Bull” Ban

On January 22, 2014, advocates for “pit bulls,” lead by area resident Mason Hakes, attended the Kearney, Missouri Board of Aldermen meeting to lobby against Kearney’s 2007 “pit bull” ban.  

Hakes argued that the ban was “outdated” and,

” . . . not only an abuse of power, but its terribly, terribly intrusive to the  citizens of Kearney . . . Its a waste of taxpayer money.

Yes, it absolutely is an abuse of power when a city creates a law that allows law enforcement officers within the city to seize unregistered “pit bulls” with absolutely no restrictions on that seizure.   Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is itself unconstitutional, but add to that zero restrictions on how law enforcement may deprive a citizen of his/her property, and it’s that much more a glaring violation.

And while prior owners of so-called “pit bulls” in Kearney were allowed to keep their dogs if they registered with the city, which is what is incorrectly referred to as “grandfathering,” such a provision is also a violation of the ex post facto clauses of the Constitution.  

Regardless, no one registered their dogs with the city, most likely because they either went underground or were unaware of the breed-specific legislation being passed in the first place.   Either way, this is what Kearney calls efficacy?  

Kearney Mayor Bill Dane, who supports the ban because he says he “doesnt want to put children at risk” acknowledged that,

Not all pit bulls are dangerous, but they have the potential to be dangerous . . . Theyre bred that way.

When Mr. Hakes claims that those passing BSL maybe just need “a little bit of education,” this must be what he means.  

So let’s educate them.   First of all, if Mayor Dane can acknowledge that “not all ‘pit bulls’ are dangerous,” then he has just acknowledged that the “pit bull” ban his city passed in 2007 is an unconstitutional violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, because you can’t deprive certain people (and not others) of their property, their dogs, if you can’t prove that those dogs are a threat.   Indeed, science has not determined that any one dog breed is inherently vicious or dangerous.   What Mayor Dane should have said is that it is owners who abuse dogs of any breed that potentially make dogs of any breed dangerous.  

So it is actually irresponsible and/or abusive dog owners that are the true threat to the community.   And as we learned from Winnipeg, and  Miami-Dade County, if you pass breed-specific legislation in an attempt to deter crime — like drug running or dog fighting — the criminals that engage in those crimes will either simply switch to owning and abusing other breeds like they did in Winnipeg, or like in Miami-Dade, they will simply ignore the BSL and continue to keep illegally fighting dogs. (And while infamous breed-banning Denver may not have a criminal element to contend with, their dog bite hospitalizations have risen significantly since passing BSL.)   BSL is not an effective tool in fighting crime; you have to address crime directly to fight crime.

Secondly, no dog is “bred that way.”   Certain traits can be selected for in dogs, but you don’t input bad traits into a dog like a computer and *plop* out comes a mean dog.   It doesn’t work that way.   Dogs are trained in either good or bad behavior, which means the responsibility is the owner’s.  

You can select for traits that make a good hunting dog for instance, but that doesn’t mean a dog will be a good hunting dog even if you train him.   That’s why we have the expression “That dog won’t hunt” because dogs aren’t bred for anything; they’re selected for certain traits, like agility or endurance, but even then the dog has to be trained to do certain tasks, and even then the dog still may not do what he was trained to do.

Hopefully when the Kearney advocates do educate the Kearney Board of Aldermen and the Mayor about the misinformation they’ve been given, the Board will come to understand that the “pit bull” ban Kearney passed in 2007 is Band-Aid legislation that offers nothing more in the way of community protection than a false sense of security.   “Pit bull” advocates in particular lobby for dangerous dog (owner) laws because we absolutely do care about community safety, we know BSL doesn’t work and actually keeps the community less safe, and we want the onus placed on unscrupulous owners to hold them responsible for the people they hurt and the dogs they abuse by being irresponsible dog owners and/or abusers.  



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