BSL Tid Bits

We are certainly on the defense with respect to breed specific proposals on the state level. Both Oregon and Texas have breed specific bills pending. While the focus in Hawaii is on “dangerous dogs,” it appears (fortunately) that legislators there are going to take the opportunity to draft a bill that holds irresponsible dog owners to a higher accountability and leave the breed specific language out. Likewise, the New Mexico House member who sponsored a bill that would target pit bulls and rottweilers has removed the breed specific language from his bill.

I read a couple of interesting quotes in sending out alerts this week…

In Vauxhall, Canada the first reading of the new dog by-law passed unanimously. The new law would remove the breed specific language and determine dogs “dangerous” on a case by case basis, and based on the dog’s individual behavior. Deputy Mayor Hagan stated in defense of the new by-law that among the problems with the current ordinance that breed specific bans are outdated.

In Avon Lake, Ohio the city council is trying to reword their ordinance so that the term “vicious” is not automatically attached to pit bulls. (Ohio state law deems all pit bulls as vicious dogs). Council is reviewing the idea of allowing an appeal board that would provide owners the right to defend their dogs if need be through the action of agreeing that pit bulls and “vicious” are not linked together. Councilman Dave Kos, who supports the change in the ordinance, stated that if the council decides to remove the term vicious, “pit bull owners would be entitled to due process.”

Thank you Councilman Kos for acknowledging publicly what we already knew… pit bull owners in Ohio are currently NOT afforded due process — a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

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The Coalition for Living Safely With Dogs presented statistics taken from a year long survey in their second annual forum in Denver, Colorado. The dog-bite surveys were taken from July 2007 to July 2008 and covered 17 “districts” in Colorado, including the Denver area, El Paso County, Weld County, and some Western Slope counties.

The coalition study tallied 2,060 bites. That’s about 1 bite for every 350 dogs, less than one-third of one percent. Of the 2,060 bites, Labrador retrievers made up the biggest percentage on the bite list. Labs accounted for 13.3 percent of the reported bites; pit bulls, 8.4 percent; German shepherds, 7.8 percent; Rottweilers, 3.9 percent; and Chows, 3.5 percent.

The coalition explained that the statistics do not mean that Labrador retrievers bite more often than other breeds. To try to determine which breed bites the most, there would have to be a dog census, accumulating total numbers of each breed, and then a breakdown to compare breeds. This is crucial because this is a point that breed ban opponents have tried to get across to supporters of BSL. The higher the population of a particular breed in a community obviously leads to a higher percentage of incidents involving that breed. It is very simply cause and effect.

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Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday, March , 2009 to urge North Carolinians to support and encourage changing dog-fighting laws. Organizers of Wednesday’s candlelight vigil hope lawmakers will enact change to guarantee dogs seized from dog-fighting operations will have the opportunity to be individually evaluated, rather than being automatically deemed ‘dangerous’ and destroyed.

The vigil will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4 at Bicentennial Mall, 16 W. Jones St., in Raleigh, near the North Carolina General Assembly and will commemorate the lives of the 145 pit bulls killed in Wilkes County last week.

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On February 23, 2009, The Humane Society of the United States on February 23 issued an interim policy recommending all dogs seized in “dog fighting” rings be evaluated as individuals, and is calling a meeting of leading animal welfare organizations concerning dogs victimized by dog fighting. This new policy will change the long-standing policy of the HSUS to destroy all dogs seized in dog fighting that led to the mass killing of the dogs in Wilkes County, NC.

Bless the Bullys had the opportunity to work with Best Friends and the other members of the coalition working toward this change. I commend BF for taking this issue head on, and for the efforts of all involved. Lets just hope the HSUS holds up their end of the bargain.

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The National Canine Research Council has completely updated their website. As many of you know, NCRC is an excellent source for real facts and statistics for fighting breed specific legislation. Don’t forget to check it out when you get a chance!

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