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BSL Discussion

PETA official supports strong regulation of pit bulls

January 09, 2018

LAKEWOOD – The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a cited expert in animal rights for over 37 years, notified Mayor Michael Summers that it supports “pit bull-specific laws and regulations” in order to protect pit bulls, other companion animals and the community at large.

PETA’s Animal Care and Control Issues Manager Teresa Lynn Chagrin sent an email Jan. 8 to the Mayor and the entire City Council, which included a detailed PETA fact sheet advocating for pit bull-specific regulations and an exhaustive 15-year medical study by a team of trauma surgeons in San Antonio’s University of Texas Health Sciences Center.

“This is the first time we have heard a balanced approach from an animal expert when answering the public safety question about pit bulls,” Summers said.

The study, which was published in the Annals of Surgery, found that attacks by pit bulls were associated with considerably higher risk of death; caused more serious injuries; were more likely to require hospitalization; and, result in higher medical-care costs than attacks by any other breed. After a 15-year examination of national statistics, the authors reported the following:

  • One person is killed by a pit bull every 14 days
  • Two people are injured by pit bulls every day
  • One body part is severed and lost every 5.4 days as a result of pit bull attacks

The report concludes, “These breeds should be regulated in the same way in which other dangerous species, such as leopards, are regulated.”

“The safety of our community comes first,” Summers said. “I am determined to protect the safety of our residents. We have proposed legislation that would allow pit bulls in our city, while providing protections that avoid jeopardizing the safety of all of us. What we have further learned from PETA is these same regulations serve to protect pit bulls from abuse and irresponsible pet owners as well.”

At the beginning of the month, Mayor Summers jointly introduced legislation to City Council that strengthens dog control laws, adds requirements for responsible owners (e.g. mandatory spay and neuter, registration and leash control) and specific controls and regulations for pit bulls in place of the pit bull ban. The proposed legislation was determined through investigations of proven best practices adopted by cities throughout the nation.

PETA’s representative, Teresa Lynn Chagrin, is available for discussion and comment about PETA’s position on pit bull specific laws and regulations and may be reached at 443-321-1277 or teresac@peta.org.


Mayor Summers also received a letter from the Humane Society of of the United States  which is displayed below:

Dear Mayor Summers and Council Members,

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation’s largest animal protection organization, understands what a large responsibility it is to create a safe community for residents and to uphold standards of conduct through the enforcement of reasonable laws. We applaud the Council’s decision to examine Lakewood’s dog management ordinances, specifically the proposed repeal of the current breed ban. We strongly encourage the Council to refrain from implementing breed-specific regulations and instead focus on breed-neutral dog policy.

The era of breed-specific legislation (BSL) is over – communities are repealing their breed-based ordinances after finding it to be extremely expensive, draining, and damaging. It is an ineffective animal management strategy that has failed everywhere it has been tried, and twenty-one states already prohibit BSL. Experts in policy-making recommend against using breed or any single-factor approach towards community animal management, and research has shown that while singling out a particular type of dog may give an illusion of protection, it does not work.

The HSUS wholeheartedly supports reasonable regulations for all dogs and their owners, including provisions for regulating dogs who have shown themselves to be dangerous, as a critical tool in creating safe and humane communities. However, using physical breed standards as a proxy for determining whether a dog is dangerous is incredibly flawed. With advances in science and our increasing knowledge about a dog’s DNA and the relationship to appearance and behavior, we now know that breed is a complex issue that does not neatly translate into predictive behavior patterns. The physical appearance of a dog has no basis in determining whether a dog is likely to harm someone. Instead, breed-neutral factors such as whether a dog is well socialized, altered, receiving veterinary care and other similar issues are significantly more predictive of the likelihood that a dog may be dangerous.

The most effective animal management strategies center around basic laws applied consistently to all dog owners. These laws, such as proper restraint and confinement ordinances, create standardized rules, norms, and expectations in the community and create a safer environment. When these laws are enforced consistently, enforcement agencies are able to positively engage the community through intervention, providing support and information to the vast majority of pet owners who love their pets and take good care of them.

The HSUS would be happy to speak with policy makers in greater detail about this and offer more specific recommendations for breed-neutral laws which give enforcement agencies necessary powers to address dangerous incidents. The best use of limited local resources is an approach which ensures that dog owning residents are aware of standards and have access to the pet care services, information, and resources conducive to meeting them.  Everyone wants to live in a safe community and we should do everything possible to prevent harmful dog-related incidents from occurring. Our resources on dog behavior, dog management and dog ownership are free, and we would welcome the opportunity to partner with the city.

Respectfully,

Corey
Ms. Corey Roscoe
Ohio Director, State Affairs
croscoe@humanesociety.org
t 614.570.0825