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[Nov. 17th, 2006|02:35 am]
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Pit bulls only as dangerous as their owners, ASPCA tells city

Commissioners view Web-based seminar on "dangerous dogs"
By Scott Rochat
Monday, November 13, 2006

A Web-based seminar on dangerous dogs had a simple message for Emporia city commissioners: Blame the owners, not the breeds.

"There is no data to support the idea that a particular breed of dog is vicious," said Debora Bresch, legislative liaison for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which held the seminar Monday afternoon. "It's the owner's behavior that needs to be addressed."

The city commission is set to look at its "vicious dog" ordinance on Nov. 22 at the request of Emporia resident Tricia Segobia. Recently, a Siberian husky-pit bull mix killed a dog Segobia had given to a friend, then killed a neighbor's dog after the mix was released from the animal shelter. The mixed-breed was not considered "vicious" under Emporia law because it had not harmed or killed a human.

Segobia has asked for Emporia to better enforce its animal-control laws and to tighten the laws it has. Among other things, she wants a dog to be considered "vicious" if it has attacked or killed a pet and she has asked that the city require owners of "notorious breeds" to register their dogs and insure them.

At the seminar, however, Bresch and ASPCA attorney Ledy VanKavage said that breed-specific legislation tends to be ineffective. One of the most sweeping examples, a nationwide ban of pit bulls that Britain adopted in 1991, had no impact on the number of dog bites in the country, a study found. And this year, a circuit court found a breed ban to be unconstitutional in Toledo vs. Tellings, which said a ban violated equal protection and due process rights since there was no reason to declare the American pit bull terrier to be inherently dangerous.

Requiring owners to insure dogs such as a doberman or a rottweiler tends to be tantamount to a ban, the two ASPCA representatives said, since few companies will insure them -- even though, they said, dog bites cost an insurance company far less than floods or fires and occur less frequently. Between 12 and 24 people die each year from dog bites, VanKavage said.

"More people are killed by lightning each year," she said. But the media quickly picks up on pit bull attacks, she noted, even when other, more severe dog attacks occur. On June 9, she said, 41 publications covered a girl who was seriously, but not critically, injured by two pit bulls. On the same day, a boy who needed 300 stitches after being mauled by a Labrador retriever-mix drew coverage from only two papers.

"In the '70s, it was the doberman," VanKavage said. "In the '80s, it was the German shepherd. In the '90s it was the rottweiler and now it's the pit bull. But getting rid of the breed doesn't get rid of the problem."

So if it's not any one breed, what makes a dog likely to attack? The two women listed three main factors.

• 90 percent of fatal dog attacks came from animals that were not spayed or neutered.

• 81 percent of fatal dog attacks came from animals that were not maintained as a pet, but were instead isolated from the family and regular human contact.

• 61 percent of those attacks came from animals that were not humanely controlled, or had in some way been abused or neglected.

Given those conditions, they said, communities have taken a number of different approaches. Some have partially subsidized the cost of neutering a pet for those unable to afford it. In Delaware, for example, the cost has been brought down to $10 to $20, paid for in part by a $3 surcharge on rabies shots. In addition, veteranarians are offered a $50 tax credit for each combined vaccination and sterilization they do.

It doesn't take long to recoup those costs, Bresch said.

"In New Hampshire, they saved $3.15 in impoundment costs for every dollar spent on low-income pet owners needing assistance," she said.

Other avenues to pursue, they said, include an anti-tethering or chaining law, since animals tied up for long periods of time tend to become antisocial; mandatory microchipping of pets, so that loose dogs can quickly be recovered; offering responsible pet owner and bite prevention training; and adopting a "tiered" system of punishment for owners of dangerous dogs.

As an example of the last, Bresch and VanKavage described an Oregon community which started with relatively minor penalties for an animal at large that displayed menacing behavior up to possible euthanasia for an animal that bites a person or kills a pet or farm animal. After a one to two-year period, the animal can be deemed no longer dangerous, though confinement is still required in the more severe cases.

Commissioner Bobbie Agler said he found the presentation interesting, though he also wanted to hear from anyone who might have evidence to support a different viewpoint on breed bans.

"If there's opposing studies out there, it's critical that we don't get blindsided," he said.

Posted by ammitnme (anonymous) on November 14, 2006 at 8:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So Segobia is asking that Siberian Huskies be registered and insured as a notorious bred?

Posted by TaterSalad (anonymous) on November 14, 2006 at 1:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hmmm, racial profiling ... Okay for dogs, but not humans?

Posted by Victim (anonymous) on November 15, 2006 at 7:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Saying that a dog is only as dangerous as his owner is like saying
a child is only as dangerous as his parents. Dog activists want to
do everything they can to have a dog treated like a human so that certain breeds are not discriminated against. It is a fact that all dogs bite. It is also a fact that when a Pit Bull bites it is a more viscious attack. There is no such thing as a perfect parent and there is no such thing as a perfect dog owner. We all know that all dogs bite, so all of us who have children feel very uncomfortable having a Pit Bull in the neighborhood. Especially when they accidently get loose running out the front door. You can not blame all these attacks on the owners because many of them are good dog owners.

Pit Bulls are dangerous because when they bite, they clamp down hard and naturally do not want to stop. Should this dog be accepted as a pet? This means I have to trust that the Pit Bull owner living next door to me will not let his dog loose. NO WAY!
I don't trust anyone with any dog and I certainly DO NOT want a Pit Bull in my neighborhood! This is definitely risky! THat is why the insurance companies do not want to offer insurance to Pit Bull owners or they want very high fees. I say, "Thank God for the insurance companies. This will help keep people from choosing Pit Bulls. A note to the Pit Bull breeders and activists: If you would stop promoting this breed as a good family dog, maybe we would not have such a problem. Face it. It is not the best breed because most dog owners can not be in 100% control of their dogs. I don't want to visit any ones house who owns a Pit Bull. Not after what I saw they did to Nick Folley (google Nick Folley and see for yourself) and not after I experienced first hand, my own sons face being ripped off!
It is too risky for our children. There are plenty of other great dogs out there!!! Why pick a Pit Bull? To put more children and people at risk? I don't get it. I love my dogs but children come first!

Posted by nanvaz (anonymous) on November 15, 2006 at 12:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dear Anonymous Victim,

You are totally right. We should never treat our dogs as humans. They have other needs than we do. BUT I am very sorry that you sent your comments before getting the right facts.

We, responsible parents and responsible dog owners, clearly understand the fact that the way we, humans treat an animal reflects the way we treat other human beings: http://www.psyeta.org/ The link between human violence and animal abuse has been studied for many years.

Pitbulls are the most abused animal in this planet and the most misunderstood. They do not plan attacks in order to be in the news nor organize illegal fights. ANY Intact dog (meaning not fixed), unsocialized, poorly trained or not trained at all dogs tend to bite the most. Why? Because they can't take themselves to the vet clinic to be fixed; they can't take themselves to a trainer to be trained. We, humans are the ones who must provide it for them. Catch my drift?

Click here so you see what Jeff Armstrong, founder of PAIDO: Parents Against Irresponsible Dog Owners) and father of Ryan (who was bitten by a dog) has to say about singling out dog breeds: http://www.geminiz.com/ArmstrongAct/Inde...

I am an adoption counselor at the local animal shelter and I see often that people do not want to take responsibilities for their dogs and that is a red-flag to me because they often do not take responsibilities for their children either.

A Pomeranian (small size dog) killed a baby in California in 2002: http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/... Did we hear it in the news? No. Why? Simply because it was NOT a Pitbull: http://www.badrap.org/rescue/myths.cfm

ANY dog is capable of inflicting trauma and death. Check again Jeff Armstrong son's story who clearly understands that owners must be responsible for their dogs actions.

I gave birth to the most precious little baby in the whole world but you will never get an invitation to our home to meet him. Why? We own four dogs: a Basset, a Mutt, a Shar-Pei and a Pitbull and we do not want uninformed yet ignorant people in our household who can harm the environment of our loving and caring human-animal bond

The best,

Posted by murchins (anonymous) on November 15, 2006 at 1:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

An ordinance that works against any animal that commits a vicious act (regardless of breed) is not breed specific. I would support an ordinance that punishes owners as well as the animal who commits a vicious act on a person or other animal. A dog that hauls off and kills another dog just for the heck of it should not be around people or other animals.

Posted by pitbullspit (anonymous) on November 15, 2006 at 1:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think it is par for the course that humans do not want to take a resposible approach to this problem of dog bites and attacks. Naming specific breeds opens doors to remove other breeds that a handful of folks fear. People who fear dogs not only fear Pit Bulls but most all dogs. As stated previously all dogs can bite. You do not have to live in fear because your neighbor owns a Pit Bull. Take a positive approach to learn more about the problem and you might take a different view. We need proponents and opponents of breed specific legislation to work together to come up with a reasonable, enforceable plan for prevention of dog bites and inhumane treatment of animals in general.

Posted by Ashton816 (anonymous) on November 15, 2006 at 2:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Any breed of dog is capable of biting and/or killing a human. Any animal is for that matter, be it a horse, cat, or bird. You cannot punish a certain breed based on witness breed identification which is, more often than not, inaccurate and statistics which are based on them. What people aren't looking at is the Labrador Retriever bite rate, the toy breed bite rate, and so on. Every time you hear about a dog injuring someone, it is always a breed that has fallen into the 'dangerous dog' category because it's easy to group and blame one breed. But, tell me, what about Pomeranian that killed its family's infant, or the Chihuahua that attacked other dogs and people. Why aren't these breeds banned?
One of the most simple things you can do in order to retrieve legitimate statistic information on breeds is to go to the American Temperament Test Society's website and view the passing and failing rates of every breed that has ever been tested.
If this was happening to a certain race of people, it would be called a genocide: "The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group". People seem to avoid that word with this situation, though. They also avoid the word "racism", but that is exactly what BSL is: "hatred or intolerance of another race or other races". No question about it.
I hope you will take all of this into consideration before you ruin the lives of anymore loving families and throw away the lives of anymore loving pets.