Well, it’s a new year but it’s still the same old disinformation and hysteria we have heard for decades about so-called “pit bulls.” The most recent subscriber to “pit bull” mythology is Medford, Oregon whose police profess to be experts in dog breed determinations with the claim that of the 89 dog attacks over three years in Medford, just over half of them have come from so-called “pit bulls.”
This wildly inaccurate statistic (and we know it’s inaccurate since they refer to “pit bull” as if it were an actual breed) is why the police department is pushing for some form of breed-specific legislation (BSL) whether an outright ban or a breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter law. Perhaps someone should enlighten the Medford Police Department, however, and inform them that “pit bull” is not a breed and they are far from breed-determining experts.
But then, it’s not particularly unusual to find loaded statistics on so-called “pit bulls” in communities that want to ban them.
Yet if the article about the Medford Police pushing for BSL in Medford is any indication, an article which cites the “pit bull” hate group Dogsbite.org, then we can fairly well gauge the caliber of the information, or disinformation, that Medford has been receiving about so-called “pit bulls.”
We can also fairly easily tell where their “model” dog law is likely to come from as well. But here’s just a head’s up Medford: “Model” dog laws that contain as provisions the forced muzzling and constant containment of so-called “pit bulls” codify animal cruelty.
Still, if the Medford Police believe the hysteria and junk science offered by Dogsbite.org as if it were tangible or even reasonable, then the very last thing Medford can expect, should they pass BSL, is public safety.
If criminals are using so-called “pit bulls” to guard their drug houses, which is a claim made by the Medford Police, then Medford should learn from the mistake Winnipeg made. Winnipeg had a crack house problem in the early 1990s and the city thought that by banning the dogs these criminals used to guard their drug houses, Winnipeg would solve their crime problem.
What ended up happening in Winnipeg is that criminals simply switched to owning and abusing different breeds of dog that they used to guard their operations, and it was only responsible owners of the dogs Winnipeg banned who were affected. Ultimately, Winnipeg solved their crime problem by actually addressing the crime — the drug dealers and crack houses — rather than the dogs the criminals owned. All their BSL did, however, was cause their dog bite rates to increase.
So, should Medford, Oregonians feed their police force’s hysteria about the dogs the police erroneously call “pit bulls” — which often include everything from Boxers and bulldog breeds to mastiffs — or should they instead educate them with the truth that BSL doesn’t work? In fact, non-breed-specific dangerous dog (owner) laws make law enforcements job much easier and unlike breed-specific legislation, which as Denver and Miami-Dade can tell you actually increases dog bite-related hospitalizations, dangerous dog (owner) laws actually reduce dog bite incidences.
Yet Medford Police Chief Tim George doesn’t believe he and his officers will have any difficulty identifying “pit bulls.” He says his officers “can readily tell if a dog is a pit bull.” But how does Police Chief George know if it’s a “pit bull” or not? Because, as he says,
“If it looks like it, acts like it and walks like it, it is one . . . ”
Right. Nothing could go wrong with that as the Medford Police’s criteria.
Denver used to think the same thing — that they knew a “pit bull” when they saw one — right up until it was proven in a court of law, several times over, that they could not properly determine what a “pit bull” was as defined by their own ordinance.
*The post photo is of a 7-foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty which stands in Hawthorne Park in Medford, Oregon. I guess she doesn’t represent liberty for everyone.