Boston, arguably the home town of the American Pit Bull, has had a "responsible Pit Bull" law, in effect since 2004.
It's worth reading the entire law as it has an impressive preamble, and it's clear this legislation was accepted in lieu of an outright ban.
Here is what the Boston law says:
- It defines the dogs both by name and description and includes crosses or mixes of the same. If Animal Control says you have a Pit Bull, you do unless you can show AKC or UKC registration paper "proving" otherwise, or unless you can get a note from a Massachusetts-licensed veterinarian saying the dog does not include the lineage of any of the named breeds.
- Your Pit Bull must be spayed or neutered unless a veterinarian says this procedure would endanger the life of the animal.
- Licensing fees for Pit Bulls are higher. The fee schedule for a regular dog is $17 for unspayed or unneutered dogs (with proof of current rabies vaccination), and $6 for spayed or neutered dogs (with proof of current rabies vaccination and proof of spay/neuter). For Pit Bulls and Pit Bull Mixes, however, the licensing fee is $50 and it's an annual license. There is also a requirement that you prove you own your own home or that your landlord has given you permission to have a Pit Bull or Pit Bull Mix where you live. In addition, as part of the registration process, you must provide a photo of your dog that is no older than 30 days and a photo of yourself that is also no older than 30 days. Finally, you must have proof of a spay or neuter and, (as for all dogs) proof of rabies vaccination. The one-year Pit Bull license is not transferable.
- No more than two Pit Bulls are allow per household. The only exception is puppies under 9 weeks.
- Dogs outside of the private property of the owner must be muzzled (basket muzzle) or in a secure enclosure (crate). This includes all locations -- public and private -- that are not owned by the owner.
- No one under the age of 18 can own a Pit Bull.
- Owners of Pit Bulls must have signage on their property that either says "Pit Bull Dog" or "Beware of Dog." The size, wording and placement of this sign is explicit.
- A dog cannot be sold or transferred except to an immediate family member, without the approval of the "dog officer" who shall transfer the registration.
- Animal control has to be notified within 14 days of a Pit Bull pregnancy, and within one week of the birth of a litter, or transfer or death of a dog.
- Some exceptions are made for show dogs transiting through the city.
This law was clearly meant to keep Pit Bulls in Boston, but to keep them out of the hands of casual pet owners, thugs, fools, kids, and people who are not very responsible.
In essence, Pit Bulls are treated for what they are: Large dogs that have a history of disproportionate carnage (for whatever reason).
Is this law over kill? Sure. Probably.
The dogs are being treated, in essence, as if they are not only guns, but as if they are very high-powered weapons.
Some may object, of course, but it's worth noting that most guns are also not used for harm, and that is especially true for high-powered weapons. Legal machine guns, for the record, are almost never used in a crime. Bazookas, pretty much never.
The spay-neuter section of the law may seem to be heavy-handed, but in a world in which thousands of wonderful Pit Bulls are being put down every day for no other reason than they are Pit Bulls, it's a reasonable question to ask whether we really need to bring any more Pit Bulls into the world, at least in Boston. How about if we take care of the Pit Bulls we already have?
Post your thoughts in the comments section.
I am especially interested in what special responsibilities Pit Bull owners are willing to accept for their dogs.
Do you think owning a Pit Bull is no different than owning a Chihuahua? A Boston Terrier? A Labrador Retriever?
Is size irrelevant?
Is breed history irrelevant?
Is the disproportionate number of fatal and serious mauling attacks by Pit Bulls irrelevant?
What restrictions are you willing to accept to avoid a ban on Pit Bulls in your city or town?
Or is this one more case, where "no prior restraint" or special licensing to avoid predictable harm is going to be the watchword?
Should society's position simply be that they can kill the dog and wash the blood off the sidewalk after the fact, but that Pit Bulls should be treated the same as dachshunds and deerhounds, and never mind the data, history, and common sense?
What restrictions are you willing to accept to ensure that fewer Pit Bulls end up in the hands of fools and thugs who end up abandoning these dogs to shelters or turning them over to dog fighting rings?
Or is that a problem you simply do not care about, or one that you do not think should not impinge on an "unalloyed freedom" to put your money down and buy whatever animal you want, from Lion to Giraffe?
"but to keep them out of the hands of casual pet owners, thugs, fools, kids, and people who are not very responsible."
This unfortunately is the only way that I feel Pit Bull dogs are going to survive where I live in SA. As we are a developing country, law enforcement is not really equipped to deal with the myriad of social problems that we have in our society. Human beings live in conditions that are horrific and gangsterism and crime shreds these communities. It has become a status symbol in certain areas to have exceptionally strong 'molosser'type dogs which are fought against other status seekers in this scenario. Given that these zones are already riddled with gun and gang crime, and are not policed effectively, adding dogs like these to the mix is recipe for further disaster. The SPCA is seeking to ban pitbulls, but that just is not right either. Everything that lives deserves a bit more respect than that. Unfortunately, it is all too common a sight to see a huge male pit bull being handled by either a minor child or a person who clearly has the dog for the wrong reasons. In a society like mine, these animals belong with people who respect, and understand them and are also able to give them the discipline and care that they require. These are serious dogs, so this is not something that all citizens are equally capable of.
I hope I qualify as a responsible owner, I have a molosser cross by the name of Sheba that I got from a local rescue after a home visit and 50 questions from the old lady that runs the rescue. She has never given a moments trouble in 8 years. She is a "Responsible Pit Bull" I guess, and I am ever thankful for her quiet and gentle nature. Having said that, don't be jumping my fence with ill intentions, that would just be silly.
Dont ban or euthanise the dogs just because of what they look like, but let us have firm boundaries and conditions in place for such magnificently strong dogs.
I think that if I owned a pit bull, I'd do my utmost to ensure that this dog was totally bombproof, simply because I wouldn't want my dog to be involved in one of those media stories that leads to BSL.
I do think that each breed or type has its own responsibilities, so maybe it should be argued from that perspective.
Dogue de Bordeaux
German shepherd dog
Golden retriever with a nasty streak
Need I go on? I got hundreds of 'em.
All of the above were dogs I actually knew when I lived in the Boston area. And except for the last, were as innocuous as the many pit bulls I also knew. Some because they had docile temperaments, and some because they were extraordinarily well-handled and managed by competent owners.
Singling out "pit bulls" makes sense why?
One thing it does do -- it makes the street cachet of owning a "pit" that much badder. Even better if he's an illegal testicle-wielding unlicensed beast.
I hear you Heather, and I do not disagree. But it does not quite answer the question: Do we put the same restrictions on ALL these large dogs, or just on Pit Bulls and crosses? Or do we stick our stick in the ground and say "NOTHING, EVER" at which point the folks who think there is a problem (and with some evidence as you will note if you read the prologue to the Boston law and look at the stats) will simply say: "Fine. The minority interests here will not discuss a middle ground in a reasonable manner, and so neither will we. A BAN it is."
For the record, this is how it went with fox hunting in the UK, where because of some actions by a very small minority of fools, the BAN was put into place. Can you get around the BAN on fox hunting in the UK? Yes, but it's a pain in the ass.
How much better it would have been if the UK had simply put in a program of simple licensing!
We have progressive licenses for other animals -- lions, chimps, and giraffes, for example. Why the EXCEPTION for Pit Bulls? The reason for a more restrictive licensing that requires acceptance of more personal responsibility by Pit Bull owners has been clearly laid out by the City of Boston. The Pit Bull community has quite sensibly pushed back on a complete BAN. But isn't there a halfway point here, as there is for hawks, bobcats, machine guns, and so many other things?
I like the take on this, and while I agree that the law is a bit heavy-handed, it pains me to say that it's necessary in a way.
I love the 'banned' breeds and have on the List O Future Dogs To Own both the Rottweiler, Doberman, and pit bull. The thing is, they will be treated as my golden/Lab mixes are: if the behavior isn't one I like, it gets corrected and nipped in the bud. This needs to be the case with ALL breeds of dogs, not just those who have reputation of being vicious consumers of human flesh. To date, I have not been bitten by a pit bull YET, even though I've seen some that I know have no qualms against doing so. (The bite record on my body consists of a few punctures from the first golden/Lab and some dachshund's attempts to take my leg off. I am not naive enough to think that won't go up in the future whether or I want it to or not.)
I think there should be a law that you have to prove yourself competent to own a small dog and not 'spoil' it or otherwise treat it like a little human. If it does something you [wouldn't tolerate out of a big dog ] (sorry, don't know how to do strikeouts) that you think is "kyooot" and someone gets hurt because of it, then you lose your license to own said small breed.
But Patrick, pit bulls are not ocelots, bazookas, or striped-ass baboons.
They are domestic dogs. And not even an easily defined type of domestic dog.
I'm old enough to remember when "everybody knew" that Dobermans were especially vicious and dangerous. Cuz they had different brains, natch. Squeezed too tight in their skulls -- they would "turn on you."
Before that it was German shepherds.
And no one (in working-class northern Ohio) had ever heard of a pit bull. That guy on the Little Rascals was Pete the Pup. A dog.
Now nobody runs from a Doberman, but "everybody knows" that pit bulls are especially dangerous.
Just like "everybody knows" that golden retrievers are always loving and harmless and would never bite a child.
Boston enacted these regulations in 2004. According to Karen Delise of the National Canine Research Counil, in the past 44 years no one has been killed by a pit bull type dog in the entire state of Massachusetts, let alone in Boston. So what exactly is this law a response to? And why were no special regulations considered for the breeds that have actually been involved in fatalities in the state?
That is the problem I have with these types of laws. They tend to be knee-jerk reactions to isolated incidents, they rely on the media for breed identification of the offending animals, and in reality they don't make anyone any safer from dogs that may be real threats.
I would be interested to see what the actual numbers of serious dog bites are per year in Boston, and if that number has declined since these regulations have been enacted.
NCRC: Dog Bite Fatalities in Massachusetts
Heather - The quality population of Kenton, Ohio where I worked for a year (although that's more 'northeast' than 'northern') would like to refute that statement regarding "no one has ever heard of a pit bull." I think the dog wardens were the only ones who even bothered to display their adoptees as "Staffordshire terriers" or "Staffie bull terriers" and then they STILL called them pit bulls. Everybody had a breeding pair, it seemed!
If you go the first link in this post and READ the preamble, as suggested, you will find:
"The Massachusetts Bureau of Health documented more bites from Pit Bulls (243) than from any other breed of dog in 2002-2003.
"The Centers for Disease Control of the United States Department of Health and Human Services have identified that Pit Bull attacks on humans resulted in more than twice as many deaths as their nearest statistical competitor over a 27-year history."
Some specific and recent attacks on people and dogs in Boston are detailed after that.
Now, to be clear, I do not think the risk of Pit Bull attack is very high.
Backyard swimming pools certainly kill more people.
But we also have LAWS for backyard swimming pools, don't we? The fencing has to be HIGH, and it has to be opaque. It is not cheap.
Once again, we have *enforced responsibility*.
And guess what? Enforced responsibility works.
A state-wide BAN on Pit Bulls in Massachusetts has been discussed. See >> http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/05/15/mass_show_of_support_for_pit_bulls/
Instead of embracing that stupid legislation, most communities seem to be moving to some form of licensing restrictions instead. See >> http://understand-a-bull.com/BSL/Locations/massachusetts.htm
Now, here's a question: Who in Massachusetts is drafting legislation to PROHIBIT the designation of dangerous dogs based on breed?
It's the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts (ACOAM).
It's the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA).
It's the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
In short, it's the same kind of people that so many are so "quick to kick" in Pennsylvania.
See >> http://stopbsl.com/2009/07/16/ma-sb-406-approved-by-committee/
See >> http://www.mspca.org/site/DocServer/February_2009_Blog-_Dog_Breed_Legislation.pdf?docID=4501
Anyone want to kick the local SPCA without getting all the facts now?
You see, real problems that real communities really have are often pretty complicated.
Pill Bulls DO bite a disproportionate number of people and they DO cause a lot of damage.
Dead dogs and facial scarring are NOT small things, and thosefacts do not disappear because they are inconvenient.
That said, mountains should not be made of molehills.
To understand which is which, we measure.
Which takes us back to how we generally make policy in the real world: We get the data. We talk about possible solutions. We look at what others have tried, in other locations. And, above all, we talk it out, and try to make friends for our side of the table.
The local SPCA and animal control people are NOT the enemy. In fact, they are the strongest allies you can have in a battle over local dog law.
Funny how that's NEWS to a lot of people out there.
"Pill Bulls DO bite a disproportionate number of people and they DO cause a lot of damage. "
Do they bite a "disproportionate" number of people? Or is there some other factor at work here, say the propensity for people, law enforcement, and media to report dogs that bite as "pit bulls" whether they really are or not? Or that there are many breeds that are labeled as such? I strongly suspect that those are more the reasons for the larger bite numbers than the idea that "pit bulls" just simply bite more often.
As far as doing more damage, many many breeds are capable of horrific and lasting damage when they bite. I was attacked by an Australian Shepherd when I was 15, and have facial scarring to show for it. 40 stitches, 2 surgeries, a skin graft and 15 years later, you have to look pretty hard to notice, but I notice every day. And to I call for people to put special regulations on an entire breed of dog because of it? No. Because to do so may reduce the number of Australian Shepherd related injuries, but it would do nothing to safeguard the community from the real problem.
To quote Dr. Randall Lockwood, an author of the CDC dog bite study that so many point to as proof that pit bulls bite and kill more often and therefore should be regulated or banned, “Focusing on a single breed as the ‘source’ of the dog bite problem reflects a 19th century epidemiological mindset that attempts to identify the vector of a public health problem and eliminate that vector. . . The dog bite problem is not a disease problem with a single vector, it is a complex societal issue that must address a wide range of human behaviors in ways that deal with irresponsible behavior that puts people and animals at risk.”
NCRC (again; sorry, but her research is spot on!)
How are these laws going to be enforced? Is animal control performing a census or going door to door? Rules and laws only apply to the law abiding citizen. Most of these unsavory and or irresponsible owners don't bother to license their dogs for $16.00 let alone $50. BSL targets the wrong end of the leash and can at times can provide a false sense of security. In my opinion it is a slippery slope than can easily become a witchunt for those of us that do maintain our dogs in a manner that poses no threat to society. My neighbor has two pitbulls they are not licensed and I doubt they are vaccinated. My question is how will this kind of legislation affect him?
One of my training mentors is active in, has been president of, the ACOAM.
I can ask her, but I'd bet that she was one of the driving forces against BSL for that organization.
Like me, Sue has fond memories of our teammate's fantastic red-nosed pit bull SAR dog. One of the first real working dogs I ever met, and the first pit bull I knew socially. She's been gone sixteen years, she wasn't even my dog, and I still miss her.
If your child was missing, wouldn't you want the dog who was looking for her to not know the word "quit?"
How would Seeme find your child while muzzled, leashed, and crated behind a sign reading "Baby Killer?"
Here's an interesting site that also has many good links within it:
What appears to me to be a very well-researched, long-term study is here:
And here is one passage that rings in my ears:
"If almost any other dog has a bad moment, someone may get bitten, but will not be maimed for life or killed, and the actuarial risk is accordingly reasonable. If a pit bull terrier or a Rottweiler has a bad moment, often someone is maimed or killed--and that has now created off-the-chart actuarial risk, for which the dogs as well as their victims are paying the price."
Tell that to the 23-year-old owner of two pits that killed him in Leesburg, Va the other day.
I guess there are two questions here:
1) What am I willing to "accept" in order to avoid a ban? Probably a lot. Because under most laws, I would get to keep my dogs and I would be "accepting" of many to avoid being forced to move. But that doesn't make it good legislation.
What we should be focused on is #2)
2) What are effective policies in dealing with the somewhat real, but overly perceived, problem of dog bites and attacks? And none of these are the solution.
Kansas City, MO and Little Rock, AR are among the cities that have passed breed specific spay/neuter -- and while the killing of dogs of other breeds have gone down, killing of 'pit bulls' has gone up -- because many good, healthy dogs, are getting removed from homes for no other reason than their unaltered status and being killed in the shelter.
Last year, Omaha passed a law with tons of restrictions for pit bull owners to adhere too...and has since had a 40% increase in dog bites because AC is focusing on being sure that responsible owners, who were never the problem in the first place, are living up to the new ordinance, vs spending time on the people with no intent on following the law in the first place and who were then, and are now, still the problem.
Breed history is irrelevant. The vast majority of 'pit bulls' haven't been used for "aggressive" activities in decades...which is generations and generations of dogs. We've created entire breeds in that amount of time, and yet figure that past history is somehow a determining factor. You raise Terriers, how many generations does it take for one of your terriers to be worthless in the field? 2? 3? 5? And yet 10-15 generations of pit bulls (at least) have gone by without most of them being used for any time of dog fighting and yet people with no experience with the breed whatsoever think it still matters. Most would be worthless in any type of fighting ring.
In order to actually SOLVE the "problem" of dog bites -- we must focus on ownership practices. The longer we pretend that 'breed' (which is very subjective in this case) is an overriding factor, not responsible dog ownership, we continue to add to the ignorance of dog owners who now think that their dog is not a problem because it is not "that breed" and only adds to the problem.
We really need to start focusing on what WORKS...which is none of this stuff.
This one is for "Seahorse".
For anyone who reads Clifton's study and calls it "Well researched" you have to read these two posts:
Clifton's report is based 100% off of media reports. Even though there are about 300,000 people each year that are hospitalized due to dog attacks, Clifton's "study" shows 2200 over the past 25 years. His determination of it being a servere mauling is made 100% off of how the media reported the event...not on actual visual evidence. The only thing his "research" shows, is that the media covers pit bull bites on a more regular basis than bites by other breeds of dogs.
But he's not smart enough to even realize that.
BT, there is much to say, and argue about in this debate, and everyone has their own experience in the real world as well. I hope you've actually read the report you disparage and decided for yourself if it has any merit. To me, it seemed to.
In short, I've seen first-hand the devastation of a pit bull attack, and I also have a Presso Canaria living right next door to me, which caused me much anxiety when we found out she was moving in. The P.C. has never caused us any trouble due to very responsible owners, and yet even in my small county there was a death by pit bulls of an adult, in his own home, killed by his family pets. I suspect that if ANY death by dogs occurs, that's going to sell papers. So to suggest that a death by, say, a less "fearsome" breed of dog would not be reported doesn't ring true to me. That said, it cannot be denied that an animal of great strength that attacks has the immediate potential to inflict greater harm than an animal of lesser strength. And yes, I recall one death in the study by a toy breed (a Pom, I think), which would appear to be an anomaly.
Viatecio, Kenton is in northwest Ohio.
Unless you mean Kent.
And unless you were working there in the 60's and 70's, I don't see how relevant its working-class pit bull population is to my "old enough to remember" commments re: Dobermans.
Yeah, everybody and their uncle has a pit bull type dog in some places.
Just like everybody had a German shepherd in those same places a few decades ago.
Or in other places, everybody has a coonhound chained to a stump. A labradoodle flipping out behind an invisible shock fence. A Chihuahua in a purse. Whatever is popular.
All the ubiquity of pit bulls seems to prove is this:
-- They are a kind of dog that a lot of people find worth keeping for some reason.
-- Claims that they bite "disproportionately" to their numbers are to be viewed with extreme suspicion.
The latter particularly true in areas that have "differential requirements." Because if it's going to cost you a fortune and turn you into a social pariah to go "legit" with your pit bull type dog, you are going to do one of two things:
-- License that dog as a boxer mix
-- Not license him at all
And "boxer mix" or "off the census" he will remain, until there is a complaint of any kind, in which event he will morph back into a pit bull via media and possibly minimum wage animal control cynological analysis. Also, same thing will happen to the actual boxer mixes, boxers, Lab mixes, etc.
A few years ago in our county, a "pit bull" with no history of aggression "turned" and mauled a little girl who was delivering papers, and then attacked the kid's mother.
Except -- several media reports later, after most citizens had already memorized the fable and gone on -- it wasn't a pit bull with no history of aggression.
It was a purebred boxer -- a very typey, obvious, purebred boxer -- with an extensive and well-documented bite history. Had been taken to a vet to be put down by the first owner because of the viciousness. Vet instead gave it to second owner, and it continued to bite in the second home, enabled by the lying second owner, until it finally got a shot at the papergirl.
Lots of speculation about pit bulls, bites and fatalities.
Lots of laws, regulations and restrictions on pit bulls
Lot of speculation on thugs vs. good pit bull owners.
FACT: THERE IS NO DOCUMENTED CASE OF A FATAL PIT BULL ATTACK EVER IN THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Yep, "overkill" is definitely the right word here.
Karen, I am going to assume you are not an idiot or a liar, and that you are simply breed blind.
You see, a dog does not have to KILL you to do life long damage, does it? You know that. You have seen the ripped faces, arms and legs of humans, right? You have seen what a dog bite can do (large dogs, and even some small ones)?
Death is not the standard for action, and if you think it (after taking the time to actually think it through), then you are a very poor thinker.
I am NOT for more restrictions, as a general rule, but I AM for actual honesty in debate and discussion. The data on Pit Bull bites is in, and though there is a little wobble in the data (as there is in all data), the bias in this case is not against Pit Bulls. In fact, it may go the other way as Heather suggested (while trying to make the opposite point, ironically enough).
Remember, everytime a Pit Bull bites someone, that someone is drawn into the resolution, and they have every reason to describe the dog as something else. Everyone else is neutral as to what to code the dog as to breed. The owner is not. If it's a Pit Bull, the issues of liability and reaonable precaution chance. Make it anything else! That said, police and animal control, can generallly identifiy a breed of dog. They are certainly no worse at identiying Pit Bulls than they are at identifying German Shepherd crosses, Huskie-type dogs, and Jack Russell crosses!
I have read the report...many times. And actually engaged in email conversation with the author regarding methodology.
The report includes "Deaths and maimings" -- with maimings being described as requiring extensive hospitalization. However, the author of the report based his determination on what was, and was not a maiming based 100% off of media reports. Not after interviewing victims. Not off of actual visual evidence. But off of media reports. He did the same with the breed of dog involved.
According to the CDC, in 2006, there were 31,000 people who underwent "reconstructive surgery" as a result of dog bites.
Over a 25 year time period, that would be 775,000 people who needed reconstructive surgery.
Clifton's "study", which is based 100% off of media reports, and not on actual studies, covers 2200 incidences - -or approximately .2%. It's not a random sample of attacks. It's not a representative sample of the attacks.
The only real conclusion that can be gained from it would be that the media reports more serious attacks by pit bulls than it does of other breeds of dogs....
Heather - That was me being a royal idiot and not thinking before I pressed "Submit." Dunce cap pour moi /\ Yes it was Kenton and it was last year, so definitely not within your parameters.
A few months back, my local paper had a poll open to subscribers that asked them if they would snitch to the law if you had a neighbor with a pit bull-type dog. The responses pretty much ran the entire gamut, from "No, they have a right to own a dog" to "Only if it acts aggressive" to "OMG KILL IT WITH FIRE." Can't remember the majority vote though.
Word verification is "shilt"...where do they come up with these things?!
A couple of points:
1) You say that police and animal control officers are now worse at identifying pit bulls than they are other breeds -- and that is likely true. But overall, they're really not all that good at it. Just a couple of weeks ago a dog that is pretty clearly a white boxer was removed from an Ohio city because it was declared to be a pit bull.
By and large, breed identification has nothing at all to do with genetics, but has everything to do with very rough, generic looks that can be quickly categorized...which is in part why nearly every black dog at a shelter becomes a "lab mix", every short haired dog becomes a "pit bull mix" and every longer-haired dog is a "shepherd mix" -- even though they likely have no true genetic link to those actual breeds at all. These vague categorizations really call into question whether any of the dog bite statistics have any accuracy at all when it comes to actual genetics involved --and I'd say the same thing if German Shepherds were leading the pack, or Labs for that matter...which if you look at almost any city in the country's dog bite stats, those will be the top 3 breeds. Any time you have a huge lumping of dogs together that are generally classified as something -- that's going to happen.
2) So even if the dog bite stats were valid (they're not) - and even if pit bulls were somehow "proven" to be a top biter/attacker, whatever...it still wouldn't prove a genetic causal effect. Let's say that we did a study that 3 out of every 4 dogs that are chained as their primary form of containment bit someone in their lifetime. Then let's do another study and determine that 9 out of every 10 pit bulls was chained for their lifetime, but only 2 out of every 10 labs were. Then we did a determination that pit bulls were more likely to bite than labs. Would it be because they were pit bulls? Or because they were chained?
Most actual science has deemed there to not be a genetic, causal relationship between bites and breed. The causal relationship is more tied to how the dog is raised, contained, and cared for.
And until we start focusing on THAT, the problem will never go away....and it disappoints me that you would perpetuate the myth....you really should know better.
I'm glad you've delved into this study as you have, and you have drawn your own conclusions. The author of the study in question outlined the specifics that he used for inclusion in the study in the first paragraph, and they seemed pretty straightforward to me. We can agree, I hope, to disagree on the conclusions.
I submit that a serious dog attack by anything OTHER than a pit bull would still be news that would sell papers, and therefore it would be reported. Reporters often sit next to police scanners, and they run out to incident scenes of all types. I find it hard to believe that if a reporter went to a dog attack scene and the dog in question wasn't a pit bull, that they would not report the story.
I am not in disagreement that a mutt that looks like a Pit Bull is going to be called a Pit Bull. Because you know what? It is! The same is true for a dog that looks like a Lab -- it's a Lab. The same for a dog that looks like a German Shepherd -- it's a German Shepherd. Ditto for crosses of the same.
The notion that a dog breed is a piece of paper needs to be shelved. A dog is what a dog looks like OR what it does. You can call a rat a sparrow, but it does not make it so. A dog that bites and that looks like a Pit Bull is a Pit Bull in form AND function. It is "the real deal," like it or not.
As for genetics, I will not argue the point. I think it's a bit funny to argue that Pit Bulls have now devolved into big lap dogs -- it's like saying your Ferrari has no engine. That's good? OK, I guess it is in the modern world. With this breed and with most molosser breeds, I am more than OK with most people breeding only for form. No problem.
But the question of whether there is a genetic thread to the disproportionate number of Pit Bull attacks on dogs and people is actually irelevant. The only thing that matters is that these attacks occur, and whether their numbers can reasonably and predictably be reduced by enforced responsibility through licensing and regulation. That's the question.
You say the issue is entirely (or mostly) about how the dog is raised, cared for, socialized, etc.
I would 100% AGREE.
In fact, that's why sticter licensing will probably work -- it will mean that there will be less of a chance that young yahoos get dogs and keep dogs.
It will mean that a higher percentage of Pit Bull owners will live in stable homes and understand the basic needs of their dogs.
All of this is GOOD. In fact, this is the REAL BENEFIT to the dogs of a higher or more restrictive form of licensing.
And, for the record, I would like to see this kind of licensing for almost ALL dogs. I have never seen a dog suffer because its owner had too much responsibility.
But see, that's the problem and why none of the laws here work.
The idea that one type or group of dogs should be targeted is based on the idea that they are somehow genetically linked and that due to their genetics, need certain restrictions.
Without the genetic linking, there is no reason to do a breed or type-specific law.
If your goal is to target the yahoos, you don't do it with laws that require people who aren't yahoos to have to jump through a series of hoops to keep their dogs. You also don't do it by targeting a type of dog but leaving the yahoo alone, because the yahoo is a yahoo whether they own a pit bull, a german shepherd or a doberman.
The only way to solve the problem is by targeting yahoos...which none of these laws adequately do...which is why they have failed everywhere they have been tried.
You are missing it. Yes, PEOPLE are most of the problem, and that is why you screen people.
The shallow-brained, short-dicked, knuckle headed knuckle draggers are the problem.
But they are not attracted to just ANY dog, are they? No. They are attracted to large molosser breeds because they WANT a dog that looks tough and scary. They want a Pit Bull.
The tighter (or if you prefer, enhanced) licensing requirements means that fools, ignorants, kids, and the unprepared are slowed down, if not thwarted in their attempt to acquire a Pit Bull. Registration is not much of a problem for someone who is responsible, but it is for fools, kids and people in unstable homes.
YES, the problem is "up the leash." That's why you focus there and require folks do do more to prove they are "Pit Bull worthy."
The problem with a law that targets a dog that looks like a pit and acts like a pit is in enforcement. Do I register my lab boxer cross that I have papers for both parents when I bring it home? It dosn't look like a pit, it dosn't act like a pit, except it is a dog and they all act like dogs. When does it become a 'pit'? When have I broken the law? after the dog attacks. This is a circular situation where the law applies retroactively. Not good. The solution is some quantifiable critera. if the dog weighs more than 40lb you need a licence. By focusing on pits you miss the point altogether. Pits are not the problem, even if they are present in most of the problems. To focus on them is to wast everyone's time because they will fall out of favor eventualy and we will have a 'problem' with another 'breed'. Eventualy we will be back to all dogs over X weight but only after setting up a law to cover everything else but weight.
"A dog that bites and that looks like a Pit Bull is a Pit Bull in form AND function. It is "the real deal," like it or not."
So, the function of pit bulls is to bite people? Historically, they were not bred to do that. Sure some yokels recently have decided that they are big and scary looking and good for intimidation and protection, but to extrapolate that to all, or even most, short haired blocky headed dogs on the planet? That's ridiculous. And a Boxer is a Boxer only as long as it doesn't bite anyone? And if it does and someone calls it a "pit bull", then that's what it is? That doesn't make any sense at all. To take another quote from you, "You can call a rat a sparrow, but it doesn't make it so". To base laws and regulations on the way something looks is always a bad idea. We tried that in this country with people, and remember how that turned out?
I agree that dog owners in general should be responsible with, for, and to their animals. That goes for EVERYONE, not just "pit bull" owners, shepherd owners, terrier owners. Why not make it so ALL dogs have to be muzzled or crated outside the home of the owner? That would certainly reduce the number of bites. But to do that would most likely severely reduce the quality of life of the dogs, and make owning them not very much fun anymore. Imagine not being able to take your dogs out to the park for a walk without having to put a cage on their muzzle.
I am all for responsible ownership, and licensing fees. I'm all for reducing the number of DOG attacks on people and animals. To focus only on one group of dogs, under the dubious notion that they are the biggest "problem", has proven to do NOTHING to improve the situation, either for humans or dogs.
(sorry if this gets sent to you twice, but there's something wonky with my Internet connection today)
The thing is none of these laws are about the people, they're all about the dogs. Altering, muzzling, number of dogs, licensing fees, signage, etc - -none of this is about the people. Only the no one under 18 can own one has anything to do with owners.
And if you do it for pit bulls, and maybe you DO succeed in getting pit bulls out of yahoos hands, but then they just end up with other types of dogs (akitas, chows, mastiffs, GSDs, etc) and are still yahoos -- we've done nothing to change their yahoo status.
They're just yahoos with a different type of dog.
So if you really want to do something, do what cities that are successful at dealing with this are doing instead of failed models like this:
Reckless Dog Owner Laws/3 strikes and you're out laws -- violate dog ordinances 3x in a 2 year period and you are prohibited from owning a dog.
Responsible restrictive tethering ordinances -- if your dog is being used as a lawn ornament, that's who we're targeting here.
If you've been involved in a violent felony activity, you cannot own an unaltered dog (this allows them to keep dogs as a part of prison dog programs)
Just some ideas.
But targeting the dogs is just plain failed policy. And has been everywhere.
Jacob, if you have registration papers for both the dam and sire of your dog, you do not have to register your dog AT ALL in Boston.
If you get a note from a vet saying that your dog is not a Pit Bull of any kind, you do not have to get a special registration for your dog in Boston at all.
And even if you DO have to register your dog, the "big deal" is about $30 more and proof you either own your own home OR your landlord says you can have a dog.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THERE??
READ THE LAW at the link.
I have no idea what you are talking about when you say "the law applies retroactively." That is a nonsensical statmement.
Again, READ THE LAW at the link.
Whatever you imagine may happen in the future is, by definition, imaginary.
All I know is that RIGHT NOW, Pit Bull bans are going in all over.
They are banned in the UK and in many other European countries and increasing numbers of U.S. cities.
Putting your fingers in your ear and chanting is not a solution that is working for the dogs, is it?
YES, the problem is mostly up the leash.
Right now the problem is also disproportinately centered on Pit Bulls, which makes those dogs susceptible to a complete BAN.
Why should THEY pay the price because a few loud and whiney people object to paying a few bucks more to get a license? Do you put such a minor inconvenience over the life of a dog? Over the existence of a breed?
If other large dog breeds were biting people equal to Pit Bulls, Pit Bulls would not be singled out, would they? But, in fact, Pit Bulls DO bite more people more often, and so their OWNERS are up for special attention and licensing.
So what? What's the problem?
Question for you: Assuming you had a Pit Bull, and AFTER actually reading the Boston law, what part of this could you NOT comply with very, very easily?
Do you not have permission to have a dog? Do you not have $30? Do you not know how to put a muzzle on a dog? What is it?
And then, do you think your unwillingness to stand for the dog should mean the dog is BANNED in your city and others across the U.S?
Your claim that the Boston law is mostly about the dog rather than the people who own the dog is absurd upon even cursory investigation of the law. In fact, the Boston law is almost entirely about the owner.
1. The person has to be over age 18 -- no kids. Dogs deserve to have owners who are stable and responsible enough to take care fo their life-long needs. Most folks under age 18 are not, and that is doubly true for a Pit Bull.
2. The person has to either own their own home or have an OK from a landlord to have a Pit Bull. This ends the all too common practice of people getting Pit Bulls in haste and abandoning them at leisure. Most Pits end up in rescue because of unstable housing situations when they are acquired by young people who think dogs are a disposable object. This section of the law discourages that notion.
3. The person has to pay a higher fee. Pit Bulls put a disproportionate strain on animal control. Not only does this section of the law help offset the cost, but it is a small discouragement for cheap bastards who think they might want to get a Pit Bull. If you cannot afford $50 a year to license a dog, you cannot to give proper veterinary care, shelter and food to ANY dog.
4. The dog has to be spayed, which means the owner cannot get a Pit Bull as part of a "get rich quick" scheme. Lord knows that's been done enough times. If there is not a huge pool of cheap and easy to get dogs, it's much harder to sustain a dog fighting ring.
5. The owner cannot transfer ownership of a dog without telling the City. This is to prevent liars, cheats, and dog fighters from worming around the law. This restriction on the owner (not the dog) means that the dog cannot be pushed back into a life of battery and instability.
Bottom line: outside of the muzzle and signage sections of the Boston law, it's actually about the OWNER.
I object to the muzzle and the signage sections. That is over-kill.
On the other hand neither a muzzle nor a sign hurts the dog at all. I object to this section of the law, but I am not sure any of my dogs would (if they could talk).
Keri, I am not sure how much you know about molosser breeds, but YES, the original function of a molosser breed is to STOP men and animals by biting them if need be. Molosser dogs are guard dogs and they are game dogs. This is their function, and they have been doing this for a hell of a long time (and they are still doing it).
For a pretty detailed American-centered history about all this, see >> "What the Hell is an American Staffordshire Terrier" on this blog at >> http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2006/05/what-hell-is-american-staffordshire.html
At this point there is little to say other than you clearly don't have any idea of how laws like this work, and the practical application of these laws.
1) Yes, I admitted that this one is the only one that is about the owner, not the dog, and is probably a good law across the board. Adults own dogs. Children's parents own dogs. This one just makes sense.
2) Dogs of every breed end up in shelters because people adopt in haste, and abandon at their leisure. This isn't a pit bull specific issue...nor should it be treated as one. But disallowing people who rent from owning dogs would be VERY problematic -- particularly in large cities - -where housing prices are high and many people, including most young professional who are active and generally make great dog owners, rent.
3) Licensing compliance for dogs in nearly all US cities runs between 10-20%. Raising licensing fees usually makes that number go down, not up. The problem is less that people are cheap bastards, but more that the laws are unenforcable and people don't feel like there is any benefit to paying the bill...which is often too difficult to do. If we want any type of licensing to increase, we must remove the barriers to doing so, not add them, and provide animal control service vs focusing solely on punishing people.
4)I'm laughing at the idea that people who are trying to sustain a dog fighting ring are going to obey any type of spay/neuter law for dogs. They're engaging in a felony activity. The barely criminal mandatory spay/neuter law isn't going to stop them...and I'd love for you to provide an example where it does. The real result of this is that people who cannot afford altering their dog (which is the biggest barrier for most) will not, and then when they get caught, the dog will be confiscated and killed at the shelter and shelter killing increases. You deal with these people by offering low cost spay/neuter services. You deal with dog fighters with SWAT teams...not dog laws.
5) Without any type of licensing compliance, this is going to be completely unenforcable because you'll nave no way to enforce it and prove the ownership. And if the vast majority of US cities can't get licensing compliance above 20%, then there will be no way to even come close to handling this...so it will be an effort in futility, with wasted resources that should be dealing with the yahoos that are causing the problems in the first place.
In the world where enforcement resources are not infinite, you have to work on practical solutions to solving problems - and anything that wastes resources is not that.
Meanwhile, the entire thing is based on the faulty notion that there is some genetic issue to target 'pit bulls' in the first place. If it's a good policy, then it should be applied to all dog owners of all dog breeds -- if it's not, then it should apply to any of them.
I understand the spirit of the Boston law. Theoretically, it should cut down or eliminate the irresponsible knuckleheads who own pit bulls for all the wrong reasons. As a pit bull lover, I'm all about laws that only allow these dogs to go to responsible, loving homes. As a lover of children, I'd also embrace laws that prevented people like the pregnant, chain-smoking teenager I saw the other day from raising children. Both are utopian fantasies with the best of intentions and the most disasterous of results.
Heather Houlahan has already provided the reasons why, and I'd like to add to that by pointing out what a pain in the ass it would be if I couldn't take my pit bull for a walk. Pits rival Labradors for maintaining puppy energy levels well into old age. Muzzle her? Seeing a pit bull with a muzzle only reinforces negative breed stereotypes. When I take my pit on a walk and she licks a toddler's face or gently takes a treat from someone's hand, she advances the reputation of the breed.
As for stats, facts, and figures, I would hope that liberal thinkers would put more effort into parsing them. America's prison system is brimming with black men, and we execute a disproportinate number of black men to white men. The simple-minded Republican answer is that it's because black men commit more crimes. The harder answer is that the criminal justice system is rife with institutional racism, and that black people are overwhelmingly poor. Let's give pits the same benefit of the doubt.
Boston's law is punitive. It doesn't reward responsible pit bull owners, it punishes them by making dog ownership difficult, thereby hobbling their relationship with their dog. My girl is a saint, and I've put a lot of time and effort into training her till she's bullet-proof. She doesn't deserve a muzzle, and I don't deserve higher licensing fees.
The way these laws, and you, Mr. Burns, are defining "pit bulls", there is no way to definitively say whether they are descended from molosser breeds or not. And besides, from what you've been saying I didn't think that genetic lineage was the important point here, but only the way the dog physically looks? Or are you saying that all molossers and any dog that remotely looks like them are pit bulls?
The American Pit Bull Terrier, as far as most reliable information about the history of the breed goes, is a cross between various terrier breeds and bulldogs. They are products of crossing molosser breeds with terriers. I am aware of the history.
American Pit Bull Terriers were originally and historically bred first for baiting bulls. Bull-baiting was done as a way to control the animals awaiting slaughter, and as a blood sport. When bull baiting was outlawed, dog fighting became popular. This breed was not purposefully bred for biting and holding humans. Individuals that did bite humans were summarily destroyed. When dog fighting was outlawed, they became the preferred dog of ranchers and farmers, were called "nanny dogs" because of their tolerance of children, and were a popular and cherished family pet. Check out the link at bottom for an extensive list of molosser dogs. If we're going to have restrictions because they're molossers, we'd better restrict them all (oh wait, but they're all pit bulls, so that's an oxymoron)
I do agree with you that the age and home stipulations are reasonable, but if those regulations are going to exist they should exist for all dogs and all owners. After all, a Lab deserves a responsible owner as much as a pit bull does.
On everything else, I agree with btnoellner. The thugs will move on to other breeds. Pit bulls weren't the asshole breed of choice in the 70s.. that was the Dobie. There are plenty of other scary looking dogs for them to victimize. These kinds of laws won't prevent that.
Sorry, forgot to add the link:
You asked what laws we could put up with to save a breed. NONE focused on that breed. I don't care about 'saving' a breed. I care about laws that are fair. If I have a pit, and you have a cana corsa there is no logical reason I should have any more burden than you. We both may need to have a higher burden than the pug next door though. I don't care if inner city kids want pits today because thay look tough and have a reputation, I care that they are well socialized and cared for and requireing someone to get a licence will do NOTHING to help that. Yes, they may reduce the number of pits, who cares, pits are not the problem. before you say they do more damage, site someting, a study normalized for numbers and the way the dog in question was raised because I don't believe it. Just because 'everybody knows it' dosen't make it so. Re the boston law, you say it makes pits only available to very responsible owners, but it then puts very high burdens on people who by design are 'very responsible'
Keri, AGAIN, read the Boston law. You can disagree with it (no problem there), but the law defines the dogs covered pretty well, and if you think your dog is not covered there are clear ways to demonstrate that.
As for the notion that the Pit Bull is a terrier, it is not. The pit bull, as we know it today, is the same molosser dog we can see in Roman art long before terriers ecen existed (terriers are not an old breed).
I know a LOT about terriers, a fair amount about Pits, and there really is not historical intersection despite the many claims (repeated from one nonsense history to another). Here's hint: a Catbird has no cat in it, a Dogfish has no dog in it, and the Porcupine Caribou herd has no porcupine in it. The "terrier" addition was tossed in to dog descrioptions by dog dealers and dog fighting men wnho wanted suggest to the dogs their dogs were actually game (i.e. that they would bite if it go to it). A lot of terriers have little or no terrier in them, including the Russian Terrier and the Aireddale (which is almost pure Otterhound).
Your history is a bit mixed up, but the way. As I note in a post on this blog, the American Pit Bull Terrier is not American, is not a terrier, and was never used in the pits. See "What the Hell is an American Staffordshire Terrier" on this blog for the real history.
First Question: Why do people choose absurd handles instead of their real names? What are you hiding?
OK, having said that, the world is not all pure positive, is it. You see the Boston law as "punitive." OK. I get that. I'm not sure it's actually true, however. I have to have a license to own a gun, but but not a bow and arrow. I have to get a license to drive a car, but not a bicycle. I have to have a license to own a hawk, but not a parrot or a finch.
And why? Simple: Bows and arrows are not used in a lot of crimes, and do not require much police oversight.
Bicycles wrecks rarely kill anyone but the rider, and rarely cause property damage.
The lack of licensing for parrots is less clear, but the differential results are very illuminating.
Parrots are horribly abused all the time BECAUSE there is no licensing and owning one is a simple "cash and carry" kind of thing. People who know NOTHING buy parrots, and then kill them or torture them through ignorance and negligence.
With hawks and falcons, however, licensing is required and real knowledge (there is a required two-year apprenticeship). As a result, very few knuckle-draggers own hawks, falcons and eagles, and the most that are being flown are living the life of Reilly.
As I said earlier, I agree that a muzzle is over-kill. But higher licensing fees?
You want to whine about $30?
Here's a question: Why should everyone else in the dog world have to subsidize all the animal control burdens your breed puts on the system? Hunting licenses are not all one price, driver's licenses are not all one price, vehicle taxes are not all one price, etc. Why do you think Pit Bull owners should not be required to pay their fair share of the costs they impose on the state? A truck on the highway pays a $2 toll where a car pays 50 cents.
Again, READ THE BOSTON LAW.
Please read it!
The law does NOT disallow people who rent from owning a Pit Bull. It simply says that anyone who owns a Pit Bull who rents has to have a note from his or her landlord saying it's OK to have a Pit Bull. There is even a provision to OK granting a dog owner a Pit Bull license if the landlord does not answer a letter. READ THE LAW!
People who breed dogs and fight dogs are not necessarily the same people, and a fighting dog is not fought as a puppy, but as an adult. What that means is that illegal breeding of unlicensed Pit Bulls in Boston is likely to be found out, as there is a long time between birth and battle.
And YES, police DO notice Pit Bulls more than other dogs (that is true for all people) and there WILL be differential license checking.
In some ways, I imagine owning a Pit Bull in Boston is a bit like my owning an old 1957 Chevrolet Belair in Washington, D.C. I loved that car despite the fact that it was a bit more difficult to park and a lot more visual than your average Toyota. But because it was more difficult to park, and because it got noticed by cops a lot more ("Ooooh, look at the cool old car!") it also got more tickets if I parked illegally. Rule One of owning an old car in great shape: You better park it legally. I imagine the same sort of rule holds true for Pit Bull owners in Boston. The Boston law has been in effect for a number of years now, and I have not found a lot of complaints saying: 1) it is not working, or; 2) that it has imposed undue burdens or hassles on Pit Bull owners.
See, the difference here is that you're talking about how the law should work IN THEORY and I'm talking about how it works in the real world.
I live in one of only a handful of cities in the country that has a law that mandates the spay/neuter of pit bulls -- but the statistics in others resemble the ones in our city.
"People who breed dogs and fight dogs are not necessarily the same people, and a fighting dog is not fought as a puppy, but as an adult. What that means is that illegal breeding of unlicensed Pit Bulls in Boston is likely to be found out, as there is a long time between birth and battle."
All "true". However, in a mandatory spay/neuter world, the puppies are found out before "battle" and taken to the shelter and killed/euthanized. Yet the vast majority of them were never going to be used for fighting. They were healthy, well-cared for dogs, and they were killed. For no reason other than the law being in place.
In Kansas City, MO -- where I live, we are now killing for 3 years running 80% more pit bulls after the law was passed than before. And these dogs aren't used for fighting....while dog fighting does exist here, there hasn't been a dog fighting bust in the city in forever. In Little Rock, they saw a 44% increase in pit bulls killed in the shelter in their first 1/2 year with the ordinance.
They're just killed. Because they have balls.
Meanwhile, let's say you're a rescue trying to adopt out a pit bull to one of these people in an apartment -- but because you're trying to obey the law, you are making them get their landlord to submit a letter, jump through a few hoops, etc.
They decide the heck with the nonsense, there's a guy with an ad on Craigslist and isn't going to make me deal with the "rules". So he buy one from him, and doesn't adopt one.
So now another dog get killed at the shelter instead of adopted, we've encouraged the backyard breeding market because we can't possibly enforce the law, and the new guy has an unaltered dog.
And we still haven't solved a single bit of the problem, but we're sure killing alot of dogs.
It's not a game Patrick. It's not a game to see what will happen if we try this. We're killing family pets. There are a lot of places that are having tremendous success in dealing with problems dogs and owners, and none of them even vaguely look like what Boston's law looks like...and all of the ones that look like Boston cause a lot more problems than they solve.
Actually, btoellner, YOU are talking about theory.
I am talking about BOSTON. Not some other city. Boston.
Boston, from what I can tell, seems to be fine with the law IN REALITY.
As for killing Pit Bulls, it is done in every city in America, everyday. You want dead Pit Bulls? How many do you want? You want live Pit Bulls? How many do you want? That's the problem right there: the number of Pit Bulls in the world FAR exceeds the desire of people to actually own them. People want PUPPIES. When those puppies turn into DOGS, however, then the trouble begins. And when the puppies turn into Pit Bulls, the problems are compounded, aren't they?
I guess Patrick you need to define "working" --because in all of your posts, you've never mentioned an actual result in terms of shelter kill rates or in bite rates.
While it is possible that Boston has had success with an ordinance where every other city that has tried it has failed, it certainly doesn't seem probable.
And yes, pit bulls have a problem...and much of it is centered around the reality that people like you, and places like Boston, think that it is important to treat them differently, creating a stigma that shouldn't exist and restrictions that shouldn't either. And yet you use an outcome that comes from an ordinance that you think makes sense, and use that outcome to promote the law itself.
So let's see the Boston's results following the passing of the ordinance.
How are total bite numbers?
Shelter euthanasia numbers?
Animal control costs?
At the very least you should know these numbers if you're going to promote the ordinance.
Again, and again and again, you have FAILED to read the Boston law even when told to, and the link is provided.
Now you accuse me of "defending" the Boson law which make clear you have not even READ this post.
Your time on this thread is OVER. You have become a time-waster.
Boston has NOT banned Pit Bulls, no thanks to people like you who cannot seem to understand that a ban was in the works in Boston.
Thank God someone in Boston figured out a middle way and the dog is still legal there.
"but to keep them out of the hands of casual pet owners, thugs, fools, kids, and people who are not very responsible."
I think that we end up with this at the end again. As the situation is such a mess( and it is a MESS, ask the dogs, or at least spend some time imagining what they might say), this is the only thing that is going to work better in future, and we all have to start with where we are right now. And as nice as civil liberty is, sanity should come first when it comes to handling"potentially" dangerous animals. Potentially dangerous does not mean bad, it just means be careful and responsible.
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