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BREED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION—
BASED ON FACT --OR FALLACY ???
By Carolyn Chan
Breed specific legislation (BSL) is any law that seeks to eliminate or single out a particular breed of canine, usually
premised upon a fictitious belief that such breed is somehow "dangerous."
On its face, singling out a dog breed may appear to address what some believe are safety issues with "certain" canines.
However, both scientifically and socially, when one examines the issues squarely on a factual basis, it becomes apparent that
this type of discrimination is not based upon facts, nor accurate data.
In addition, it becomes more obvious that this type of disparate treatment will not only be extremely expensive to implement
and enforce, but also that its purpose will not be accomplished due to the faulty premises upon which it is based.
Why is this so? Most BSL is enacted in response to a highly publicized, and often sensationalized canine altercation
in which a human is either hurt or killed. Since fatal attacks by canines are actually rare, when and if they happen, it is
news fodder and it SELLS. Sensationalism is prevalent and a huge industry in the media world.
When enacting a law in response to such sensationalized stories, lawmakers do NOT take steps to ensure the stories are
factual. Therefore, stories about a "pitbull" may really be about a "mastiff/lab" mix, or a "shepherd/boxer" mix, or any number
of mixed breed dogs. Since there are at least 25-35 dog breeds that may resemble a "pitbull", it is extremely common for any
canine bearing ANY resemblance to a terrier to be labeled a "pitbull."
There have been studies conducted in the past that are heavily relied upon by those who want to push for BSL. The fact
is, those studies (there are only several) are not complete scientific studies, they were not done with complete variables,
the evidence used was not adjusted for variables not taken into account, and the extrapolation from such studies is flawed
due to the failure of not having set the foundation correctly to start with. Valid scientific studies take into account nearly
every conceivable variable that might affect the outcome. Carefully controlled studies are done precisely and under carefully
controlled circumstances—as opposed to "guessing", "speculation", and "we are not sure, but...."
Unfortunately, the SCIENCE of canine genetics has been thrown to the wayside, and has been reduced instead, to a few
paltry "studies" relied upon by lawmakers, where such studies are not reliable, nor proven. This is even admitted by the people
who did these studies, because they had incomplete data. Incomplete and inaccurate data does NOT lend itself to producing
valid scientific results.
The result? You have laws which are based upon fallacy.
When lawmakers seize upon "singling" out breeds, they usually tend to select those breeds which are either large, or
protection line types, or which tend to get the bad rap in the media. The "choosing" of such breeds is basically done on guesswork,
speculation, and perhaps even upon propaganda pushed by extreme animal rights groups such as PETA.
Let us assume for a moment, that two breeds of canines have been singled out because lawmakers think they are "dangerous."
Now, is that because they have read stories in the newspapers? Seen the news on television? Heard about stories on the radio?
Knew someone who was mauled to death? Owned one of the breeds and was injured? Worked in canine handling and experienced these
very breeds first hand? It would be my educated guess that the first two reasons listed are the answer. Most lawmakers know
little and nothing about canine genetics. But they know that the public may be upset when something "happens" in their community
involving a dog.
This then brings us to the issue of HOW do such things get taken care of?
In many cases, it appears that animal control seems to suddenly pipe up that certain breeds are being "euthanized", because
no one "wants" them.
Then, extreme animal rights groups pop up with their position statements that such dogs are better off "exterminated"
completely, or even worse, that all homeless pets should be killed rather than saved. One must remember that extreme animal
activists have heavy followings of donators, and many of these are people who are already involved with animals (such as shelter
volunteers, rescue people, and activists who promote "spay and neuter" as a mantra........)
To further convolute the issue, supporters of BSL like to bring in the topic of pet "overpopulation" and how it is allegedly
caused by "breeders."
So now we have lawmakers looking at a few studies, which are flawed both scientifically and statistically, coupled with
sensationalized media stories naming specific canine "breeds", and then heaped upon that, we have assertions by shelters and
extreme activists that "overpopulation" is a problem caused by breeders. It should be noted that the overpopulation issue
is purposely set up to detract from the "dangerous" aspect, because once that is done, many people forget about "dangerous"
(which is false) and remember overpopulation. It’s called convenient detraction to me.
SO-----if one puts that all together, what we come up with is known as "BSL".
We now have a plan to "eliminate" canine
breeds, perceived as "dangerous" by the media, and ostensibly whose members are taking up too much shelter space.
Does anyone else see a problem with this thinking?
First of all, wouldn’t it be logical to consult with canine geneticists and behaviorists on the so called issue
of "danger" in selected breeds? Apparently not in today’s world, because despite the opinions of the AVMA and leading
canine authorities (who do NOT support BSL)—lawmakers have now basically IGNORED the science aspect completely.
In California, it was not until this year that the legislature decided to forego its "non-specific" breed law. The non-specific
breed law is and was based upon scientific evidence that no canine breed is inherently dangerous, and that therefore, no specific
breed of canine was allowed to be considered as such.
Perhaps only after a highly sensationalized canine incident, lawmakers decide to revisit the specific breed issue. Somehow,
the lawmakers believe that the former law should be changed so that ALL California counties could enact laws against named
"dangerous" breed dogs, EVEN THOUGH NO DOG BREED IS TO BE CONSIDERED DANGEROUS.
The alleged intent of the new law specifically states that elimination of uncontrolled and irresponsible breeding is
Why? Because theoretically, according to lawmakers, this breeding is creating a public safety "risk" through production
of "defective" animals (as currently stated in Chapter 7, Section 122330, Health and Safety Code of California.)
Note that only the alleged breeding of specific breeds is the TARGET of such legislation. Whether such owners may be
the actual cause of canine problems due to their inappropriate treatment of animals is completely disregarded.
So if we are to believe that the actual so-called problem is the PEOPLE who may create "defective" canines, we should
be controlling the PEOPLE who are supposedly to blame. Since it is a known fact that animal abuse (starving, torturing, chaining,
never socializing, fighting, etc) will create a very unpredictable and possibly aggressive canine, it is very clear to me
that the owner’s treatment of the animal can be paramount to the dog’s disposition. In other words, the owner
may create a monster by inappropriate treatment of the dog, rather than having "bred" a defective dog.
Before one can make the huge leap from no specific breed of canine is inherently "dangerous" (which is the scientific
truth, and proven )---- to choosing breeds to "eliminate or reduce" because they "ARE" dangerous, one needs to have accurate,
factual, proven data. Information that has a reliable foundation, using scientific principles, and not based upon guesstimates,
conjecture, or newspaper stories. BSL has no scientific basis--- unless you count media stories as genuine scientific evidence.
Spaying and neutering "every dog" in society is clearly not the answer, yet in Los Angeles, that is exactly what has
been proposed since SB861 (aka BSL) started this year!!
The proposal must be the second most asinine proposal in terms of eliminating unsafe canines—second only to BSL
which is based upon nothing but fallacy.
It is a shame, but dog owners today must prove their mettle in a court of law due to media hype, uninformed lawmakers,
and radical animal groups focused on eliminating not only specific canine breeds, but domestic pet ownership itself.
In July 2003 the American Canine Foundation hired Ohio attorney Sol Zyndorf to challenge Ohio’s O.R.C. 955:11-
955:22 breed specific laws. On March 3, 2006, the Sixth Appellate District Court of Appeals in Lucas County, Ohio, issued
a published decision finding that the breed specific law in question was UNCONSTITUTIONAL, on three separate counts, and the
court entered Judgement for the pitbull owner!!!
This major VICTORY at the Appeals level shows that with hard work, a good team of experts, and keen counsel, dogs will
get their day in court and prevail!
Attorney at Law
DENVER FACT OR FALLACY
Denver Colorado Legislative Update Denver's City Attorney Kory Nelson has been contacting cities across the United States
and providing them information on Denver's breed ban on American Pit Bull Terriers. This data is not accurate and below are
facts Mr Nelson is failing to reveal.
1. Mr Nelson lost his arguments that Denver's breed ban was constitutional in
the Colorado 2004 legislative session when he tried to stop HB1279 from passing to be signed by the Governor. Mr Nelson presented
documents Denver had used in the past, all manipulated data provided by radical animal rights organizations. The Senators
and Legislators of Colorado did not find Mr Nelsons arguments credible and voted to end breed specific legislation in Colorado
by voting yes to HB1279 which prohibits banning specific breeds of dogs in Colorado at the local and state level.
In 2004 Mr Nelson lost a legal battle in the Denver Municipal Court July 7, 2004 ( Margolius v Denver ) Mr Margolius was charged
with violating Denver's breed ban. ACF challenged Denver's breed ban and at trial all of Denver's animal control officers
were disqualified because they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt they could identify what is known as the American
Pit Bull Terrier. Mr Margolius's case was dismissed.
3. In 2004 Denver sued Colorado arguing they had a right to home
rule over their breed ban. The state of Colorado asked ACF to intervene to provide expert testimony and research proving Pit
Bull Terriers and others breeds are not genetically vicious or dangerous and do not inflict more severe injury than other
breeds. The court hearing the case denied ACF's intervention without giving any reason. Then Colorado resident Marci Grebing
filed a motion for intervention and the court denied that motion also giving no reason. A trial was heard on April 7 2005
regarding Denver's right to home rule, no constitutional arguments were raised, the trial lasted less than one day, Denver's
expert Dr Borchelt had testified in a previous case ( Tellings v Toledo ) that he had done no research on American Pit Bull
Terriers. In reviewing the evidence used at the Denver trial it was found to be erroneous and outdated. The judge reached
his decision within minutes of the end of the trial . The court made no effort to consider current scientific data, accurate
fatal dog attack data and hear from some of the countries leading experts on canine behavior and genetics.
Grebing filed an appeal over the denial of intervention in Colorado v Denver, Mr Nelson filed a motion to dismiss Ms Grebings
appeal, Ms Grebing responded addressing Mr Nelson's credibility to the court. The court of appeals denied Mr Nelsons motion
and the case is moving forward. Ms Grebing is asking for a new trial where Denver dog owners and Colorado residents can be
5. Mr Nelson has been calling cities up providing them with misleading data telling them Denver's
breed ban withstood a court challenge. This is not true and last year in the Margolius case Denver's breed ban did not stand
up to court litigation. Mr Nelson's data was found not credible by the Colorado Legislature in 2004. Mr Nelsons motions in
the Colorado Court of Appeals regarding the Denver v Colorado lawsuit were also found not credible.
6. Mr Nelsons
behavior and that of animal rights agenda, of which Mr Nelson is promoting when he supports Denver's breed ban is one of the
leading causes of the violence directed at American Pit Bull Terriers and their owners. The manipulation and intentional false
data , the media hype, the sensational stories and all the lobbying for breed bans has resulted in death threats, domestic
violence, the killing of family pets and the loss to the right to own property while at the same time criminalizing United
States citizens. Refer to ACF Report ( REGULATION AND CONTROL OF DANGEROUS DOGS ) AMERICAN CANINE FOUNDTION 2005 Edit Text