According to CBSDFW.COM, two Dallas City Council members expressed a desire at last Wednesday’s council meeting to ban pit bulls from the city of Dallas.
These comments were apparently made in response to a recently released report that named Dallas the 5th worst in the nation for the number of dog bites to postal workers.
Councilmen Dwayne Caraway (the same person who gave a key to the City of Dallas to convicted felon and dog-fighter Michael Vick) and Rick Callahan both made statements that said they support legislation to make it illegal to own a pit bull in the city of Dallas, because the dog bites are “always the pit bulls, you never hear about the other dogs.”
All I can say is, Are you freaking serious?
Before anyone gets too worried, please note that Texas State Health and Safety Code (Sec. 822.047) prohibits breed-specific legislation. And according to the Dallas City Hall Facebook page, it was just a “discussion”:
The City of Dallas has no plans to ban Pit Bulls or any other breed of dog.
The conversation between citizens and council members on Wednesday was part of open mic discussion and not part of a briefing or vote.
The City and Dallas Animal Services will continue to proactively encourage responsible pet ownership and advocate for the welfare of all pets in our city.
In any case, it certainly has everyone talking.
There has been significant research showing that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is not effective at reducing dog bites. Moreover, it breaks up families, results in dogs being turned over to the city to be euthanized, and punishes innocent dogs and responsible dog owners. The focus should be on enforcing laws against animal neglect and cruelty and spay/neuter ordinances, not on discrimination and creating irrational fears based on biased media reports. (We’ve all seen it – when there’s a dog bite from bully-looking dog, the words “pit bull” always seem to be in the headline. Dog bites from other breeds rarely get any press, and when they do, breed isn’t mentioned.)
So what does that mean for you if you are the owner of a pit bull? While BSL is not allowed by the State, it’s been shown that municipalities can work around it.
In 1990, the Texas Supreme Court upheld a ruling in favor of the City of Richardson, who was sued by a group called “Responsible Dog Owners” to prevent it from enforcing restrictions on pit bulls within its city limits. (Among other things, the ordinance required pit bulls to wear muzzles anytime they were outside the confines of the owner’s property!) The group’s claim was that the City of Richardson couldn’t enforce a law that went contrary to Texas law, and they won on appeal. However, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the original ruling in favor of the city.
(I checked the Richardson animal ordinances and there are no restrictions on pit bulls currently. Which is great, because I live here with a very loving pit bull named Percy.)
Garland managed to pass an ordinance that reeks of BSL by requiring different fencing requirements for homeowners that have pit bulls, citing that pit bulls are responsible for “most dog bites.” However, the city of Garland is ignoring the fact that since 2005, the state of Texas no longer tracks dog bite statistics, according to Jim Schuermann, Staff Epidemiologist of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance Group of the Texas Department of State Health Services, due to the unreliability of the collected data. In fact, the ASPCA website states:
“Following a thorough study of human fatalities resulting from dog bites, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided not to support BSL. The CDC cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed-breed dogs).“ (emphasis mine)
Yep. But flawed statistics that were collected over a decade ago are still being used to argue that pit bulls are dangerous, and there are still many, many cities with bans and restrictions on pit bulls. So, as a pit bull owner, you need to educate yourself and be prepared to protect your pet with your vote and your voice.
The North Texas Pit Bull Alliance has organized a peaceful march at Dallas City Hall on Saturday, May 30 for pit bull advocates to voice their concerns about BSL. They are asking everyone to come out and show Dallas City Council that our Pit Bulls are Family. Please visit the Facebook Event Page for more information on the rally and the rules for the event.
And as Percy says, #SayNoToBSL!