Does BSL Really Work??
We’re seeing more and more places jump on the BSL bandwagon, but is it just a knee-jerk reaction or are they actually examining the evidence as to whether or not breed specific legislation really works? I think the answer to that is obvious. Pitbull attacks are a reality but who is to blame for them? The dog? Of course not!
Any breed of dog can and does bite and attack. Pitbulls have been singled out because of media bias and hype. The more stories you see about pitbull attacks, the more undesirable people decide they want them. It is a vicious cycle that feeds the propaganda machine.
A proposal in Oregon to ban pitbulls never even made it out of committee, it was killed but that is not the end of it. They are still proposing a measure, House Bill 2852, that will single out pitbull owners by forcing them to have liability insurance which is usually extremely cost prohibitive, especially now in these times of financial crisis.
The original proposal would have made owning a pitbull illegal in Oregon and the “state would punish those who own one by euthanizing the dog, slapping the owner with thousands of dollars in fines and perhaps even throwing them in jail. And if your pit bull killed someone? Then you could be fined $125,000, spend five years in jail or both.”
Those already in the state would have been “grandfathered” in under some pretty strict conditions.
If they had been able to pass this, Oregon would have been the first state to have a statewide ban.
Wichita, KS, which last year enacted some dangerous dog laws is now debating whether to enact some breed specific legislation. They say the dangerous dog laws have not curbed the pitbull problem.
The city says that in 2008, it resonded to 733 dog bites and attacks. Of those, 246 involved pit bulls. The Wichita Animal Shelter housed over 6,000 dogs, of which nearly 1,800 were pit bulls. City animal control officers collected more than 4,600 stray dogs or dogs running at large, of which 1,279 were pit bulls.
The proposed changes would include microchipping, spay or neuter, limit the number of pitbulls a person may own.
Now, there is no denying that “pitbulls” can be strong, powerful dogs and in the hands or irresponsible owners, can do damage, often terrible damage. We also cannot deny when there is a bite incident, very often the dog is misrepresented as a pitbull when in reality it isn’t but seldom is there a recantation of that mistake.
Now lets talk about Denver and BSL. Denver has been at the forefront since they enacted BSL in 1989. There were two attacks, one in 1986 which resulted in the death of a young child and another in 1989. The ban was in effect from 1989-2004 when Gov. Bill Owens signed a bill prohibiting local municipalities from enacting breed-specific legislation. Denver challenged the bill and BSL was back in Denver.
Since 2005 at least 1667 pitbulls have been killed but there is still a question of whether BSL is working there. Have there been any more pitbull attacks? No… but then there were only two to start with.
What about other dog bites of attacks? Yup, and it’s quite interesting too.
Between 1995 and 2006, Denver had almost six times as many dog-related hospitalizations compared to Boulder, even though Denver’s population is less than twice that of Boulder. During that 12-year period, Denver experienced 273 dog-related hospitalizations, while Boulder experienced only 46, according to statistics provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
By the way, Boulder has no BSL.
In the Denver metro area, what is the most dangerous breed? Believe it or not, Labrador Retrievers.
Labrador retrievers are the most likely dog to bite, at 13.3 percent, according to data provided by the Colorado Association of Animal Control Officers and released last week by the Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs.
Pit bulls follow, at 8.4 percent, which is then followed by German shepherds at 7.8 percent.
The likelihood of a dog to bite also has to do with the popularity of the breed. Labrador retrievers are an extremely popular breed. But Michaela DeGraw, spokeswoman for the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, points out that labradors are biting more than pit bulls, and there’s no ban on labs.
“Are we going to ban labs just because they are at the top of the list?” asked DeGraw. “I think not.”
Karen Delise, founder and director of research for the National Canine Research Council, said breed-specific legislation does nothing to educate owners on their responsibilities for owning a dog. She said without that component, there is no way to keep dog bites down.
“I find it interesting that the only area, region, county or city in Colorado with a breed ban happens to be the only county with a higher than normal rate of dog bite hospitalizations,” she said. “The breed ban isn’t working, it’s not addressing education or irresponsible owners.”
Englewood Mayor Jim Woodward said his city decided against breed-specific legislation because the research he conducted indicated that banning pit bulls would not cut back on dog bites. Because Englewood wanted a component that involved educating and holding owners responsible for their actions, it decided last summer to beef-up its dangerous dog laws rather than impose a ban.
“I have not seen any proof that (breed-specific legislation) is the way to go,” said Woodward. “I think what we have come up with is much more progressive.”
The mayor added that in speaking with code enforcement officers, they find the stricter dangerous dog ordinance much more effective because it supplies them with additional tools to go after irresponsible owners, as well as educate the owners on their mistakes. (Denver Daily News)
Even Denver Animal Control Director Doug Kelley can’t come out and say that BSL is actually working.
You can find quotes and statistics but accuracy is highly questionable. People can make statistics show anything they want with the right manipulation of numbers.
In order to determine whether a breed of dog is “riskier” than another breed, a standard risk calculation must be performed. The easiest way to understand this calculation is through an example.
If you record one bite by a green dog and ten bites by purple dogs, which is more likely to bite—a green dog or a purple dog? If you look at the numbers alone, you might think that purple dogs are more dangerous than green dogs, because there are more bites by purple dogs.
However, it turns out that there are five green dogs total, one of which bit. And there are one hundred purple dogs total, ten of which bit. Now which type of dog is more likely to bite? Based on the data, one out of five green dogs have bitten, or 20%, while only one out of ten purple dogs have bitten, or 10%.
Once we know what the total population of green and purple dogs is, we are able to calculate risk. (Stop BSL)
This is what is not taken into consideration. Actual ratio. And with the media popularizing pitbulls, even though it is mostly negatively, that actually is making pitbulls more attractive to negative aspects of society so the pitbull population is rising. Sadly those clamoring to own pitbulls for these reasons are the worst possible owners and it is these owners whose dogs are causing problems, and not just problems for them but problems for all pitbull owners, most of which are loving and responsible owners of wonderful dogs. Stop BSL has a great article on just this HERE.
Here’s another reason that dog bite information is so skewed. All dogs bite but larger more powerful dogs are naturally going to do more damage when they do bite. If a little dog bites, most likely no one is ever going to hear about it. If a big dog bites there is more of a possibility that someone is going to need medical attention. So you could have 100 bites by lttle dogs and maybe one will be reported whereas you could have 2 by bigger dogs and both will be reported, so you figure it out, what is going to come under scrutiny?
There are so many factors that must be examined and not only are they not, many of them cannot even be examined accurately. BSL is a knee-jerk reaction fed by hype, myth and propaganda. It does not work! Education works. Well thought out dangerous dogs laws works. Enforcement of leash laws work.
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