~ RECAP ~
2004 NAIA Dangerous Dog Conference
NAIA recognizes that efforts to reduce dog bites fail because
citizens, lawmakers and humane groups tend to emphasize laws and policies that restrict dog ownership rather than penalize
irresponsible dog owners.
Speaker Robert Gloster, M.D., FACEP, stated, "When communities
confront the problem of dangerous dogs, they often depend heavily on outdated lists of dog related deaths that put pit
bulls and rottweilers at the top."
A dangerous dog is only a symptom of the real problem:
irresponsible owners that don't understand dog behavior and cruel and criminal owners who damage dogs and make them dangerous.
...breed specific legislation is an inappropriate response to what is an issue of irresponsible ownership. Jane Berkey,
President, Animal Farm Foundation.
While [BSL] addresses a legislators immediate political
emergency, it creates in the public a false sense of security and diverts needed resources from real solutions. It has
a devasating effect upon innocent owners and dogs, as well as the agencies left to cope with the flood of "cast
offs." Jane Berkey
Breed specific laws create challenges for shelter managers.
We can be overwhelmed by BSL. Andy Mahlman, Manager, SPCA Cincinnati
We prosecute people not dogs. Often dogs categorized
as "vicious" or "dangerous" are just acting like dogs. Pam Sears, Hamilton County Ohio prosecutor.
Animal control is a band-aid. Education is important
to prevention. Nancy Hill, Director, Spokane Washington Animal Control
The dangerous dog problem is a result of irresponsible owners,
the popularity of powerful breeds and inadequate laws to address dangerous or vicious dogs. Nancy Hill
Conclusions of the Seminar
1. The problems caused by dangerous dogs in the community
must be identified before they can be resolved.
2. Responsible dog owners are part of any solution
and should be recognized for their contributions to the community.
3. The media is an important part of every solution
because [the media] can either drive the hysteria or highlight problems and potential solutions.
4. Dog advocates must promote responsible dog ownership.
5. When laws are proposed, dog owners must
stand up and make their views known, work with legislators, and offer alternatives to BSL.
BSL and the Cost to Taxpayers
1. Cost of additional animal control offers to enforce
the ban or restrictions. **Remember, most cities do not have sufficient animal control departments to enforce leash
laws, which if enforced would reduce many of the problems that lead to bite incidents.
3. Veterinary care of the animals. (Hope you
don't think the animals are confiscated and immediately euthanized).
4. Legal fees, court costs, etc., associated with
responsible owners lawsuits against ineffective and unconstitutional laws.
5. Baltimore, Maryland estimated (in 2001) that it
cost over $750,000 a year to enforce their breed specific legislation, and they were still unable to enforce the law effectively.
6. Prince George County, Maryland reviewed their
existing dangerous dog laws, including a ban on pit bulls. The task force recommended repealing the law and sited these
(a) Loss of revenue - since
the ban has been in effect, there has been a dramatic reduction in dog show/exhibits in the county. Along with this
comes some indirect loss of revenue such as hotel/motels, restaurants, gas stations, veterinarians, pet supply stores, grocery
and drug stores, etc.
(b) Director of Animal Management
Division estimated the County's cost for maintaining a single pit bull throughout the entire processs for one (1) year was
(c) Fees from pit bull registration
in 2001-2002 generated approximately $35,000 over the two (2) year period. However, the cost to the Animal Management
Division for maintenance of pit bulls over the same period was $560,000. In addition, these figures would be higher
but did not take into consideration utilities, manpower and overtime.
(d) It should be noted that these
average costs to Prince George County do not include the expenditures of the of the County or Municipal police departments.
These cross-agency costs, while significant, could not be fully captured or adequately estimated.
Source: Prince George County TAsk Force Report
Temperament Test Results
The American Temperament
Test Society conducts tests every year on thousands of dogs to determine the soundness of their temperament. The American
Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier routinely and consistently rank in the average range, and well above many
"popular" breeds such as the beagle, collie, doberman pinscher, cocker spaniel and great dane. (Source: American Temperament Test Society)
Alfons Estelt of the American Temperament Test Society,
Inc., stated the following with respect to pit bulls: "The American Pit Bull Terriers participating in our temperament
evaluation have thus far shown a passing rate of 95%. The other 121 breeds of dogs in our tests showed the average passing
rate of 77%"
I think it is wrong to generalize a specific breed as vicious because it is often associated
with people who break the law. In my experience, vicious dog problems are more about people than dog... Responsible
dog ownership addresses the problem far more effectively than picking on a breed. Dr. Shawn Webster
(Ohio State Representative and veterinarian) addressing members of the Ohio House Agriculture Committee on May 18, 2005.
If you ban pit bulls, I promise another breed will come along as the breed of choice.
Dr. Todd Towell, President of the Colorado Veterinarian and Medical Association, addressing
the Senate's Local Government Committee, January 25, 2006.
We need to come up with something that takes care of
vicious animals, not breeds. Councilwoman Karen Halva, West Union, Iowa, October 18, 2005.
be breed-specific makes about as much sense as me being intimidated by Commissioner (Sam) Bullock here because he's a different
race," said Jason Pierce, who is white, referring to Bullock, who is black. "That's all it is, is a different breed. I don't
know why we're here talking about this when we should be talking about animal cruelty and animal fighting laws."
Commissioner Jason Pierce in response to why he voted against implementing BSL in Battle Creek, Michigan
on August 17, 2005.
"It's really about education. It's really about getting
out there and letting people know what's responsible pet ownership. Our number one priority is education." Jill
Hatfield, Animal Services Superintendent, Fayetteville, Arkansas, October 20, 2005.
Those areas across the country that have pit bull bans or regulations
have found that defining and identifying pit bulls can be a subjective, expensive, and time-consuming task. Numerous breeds
are mistakenly identified as pit bulls, including American bulldogs, boxers, mastiffs and many other lesser-known breeds.
Adam Goldfarb, Issues Specialist with The Humane Society of the United States, October 20, 2005.
I don't care what kind of animal you have, whether it's
a pit bull or chihuahua, that owner should be responsible if it has caused damage. Commissioner
Bob Haake, in response to why he voted against BSL in Taylor Mill, Kentucky, January 14, 2006.
We had some extensive discussions about [a breed
specific law] and decided because of the problems of trying to identify when you say ‘pit bull,' it's very difficult
to prove in a court of law. The committee thought it should not be breed-specific. It could be a pit bull, a cocker spaniel,
a chihuahua, a Rottweiler, so the ordinance opts to hold owners responsible - not breeds. Patrick Fetherson, Director of Animal Control, Cassopolis, MI, addressing the problems associated with
BSL. Cassopolis voted against a pit bull ban.