Help Stop Unfair Legislation
Endangered Breeds Association and American Dog Breeders Association offers the following guide in writing breed specific letters to your city/town councilmen; county officials; a newspaper's "Letters to the Editor" section; and state legislature members.
When BSL is being considered or promoted, all dog lovers should write in protest and be heard as a force. Write your own letters and make your voice heard.
Letters need to be kept brief and to the point - 200 to 250 words for newspapers and 300 words for politicians.
Breed clubs could meet and plan a number of letters and have each member enlist another supporter. Assist them to vary their letter somewhat, and plan to send letters the same day for maximum impact.
- It is suggested you take a sentence to introduce yourself, and another to state your objection. Then add one or two particular concerns; and finally a conclusion. Other short additions may come to mind as you write. Be sure to check total words and adjust. Most newspapers count one line as 10 words.
- Now read it through and make sure it is coherent and in one grammatical tense. If there are too many long sentences, take one here and there and change it into two short, snappy ones - it will work.
- Conclude with "Sincerely," and your usual signature. Also include your name, address and a phone number where you can be reached.
These will all end with "recent BSL legislation". Up to 21 words.
B: STATE YOUR OBJECTION
- As a dog owner for many years, I am concerned about affects of the government's - - - - -
- I have owned dogs for (X) years and I do not agree with - - - - - - - - -
- As a parent and responsible dog owner, I object to - - - - - - -
- As a dog breeder, I know the problem of dog attacks will not be solved with - - - - -
- Because many different dogs bite, I deplore your narrow, unfair imposition on some owners, with - - - - - - - - -
- (X) years breeding/training dogs shows it is unscientific nominating any breed as all aggressive as in - - - - - - - - -
- I am a dog owner, and voter, and am appalled at unwarranted, unfair measures introduced in - - - - - - - - -
These will all end with "other dogs biting and attacking". Up to 22 words.
C: MY PARTICULAR CONCERNS
- Restricting a breed of dog does nothing to address issues - - - - - - -
- Dogs treated unfairly will not guarantee safety from - - - - - - - - - -
- Restricting a group of dogs due to breed/type will not prevent - - - - - - - - - -
- Dog attacks involve numerous breeds and crossbreeds, so a breed restriction will not stop - - - - - - - -
- Blaming a type of dog for all attacks, punishing it before it even offends, can never prevent - - - - - - - -
- If any local dog population has just one type isolated/restricted, this will not prevent the - - - - - - - - - - - -
- Punishing one section of dogs will do nothing to save children from the dangers of - - - - - - - - - -
- Breed bans have not slowed illegal activities or dog attacks as research shows. (Here you can cite studies by Dr I Lehr Brisbin PhD Professor of Ecology at the Univeristy of South Carolina and a scientist for the US Department of Energy Savannah River Ecology Labratory in the field of animal behavior. Other breeds will be added to the list as they become popular, then, more breeds become restricted unfairly. (Italy now lists 91 breeds of dogs in their restricted dog list.) Strong laws which penalize owners, regardless of the breed, are valid and have merit in protecting the public with a degree of precision characterizing effective legislation. It is owner specific legislation which will work (70 words). (Here you can cite report in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association by Jeffrey Sacks, MD, MPH; Leslie Sinclair, DVM; Julie Gilchrist, MD; Gail Golab, PhD, DVM; and Randall Lockwood, PhD. Their report is from findings over a 20-year period.)
- These laws treat innocent dog owners as criminals, when they have committed no offense. Dog ownership is a privilege which is abused by a small number. It is these people who should be the target of penalties. Our rights, however, include expecting fair laws from government. not those pandering to anti-dog lobbyists who will not be satisfied until other breeds are restricted too. Many dog owners now turn in disgust and fear, to a political party which supports fair and encouraging dog laws. (80 words).
- You are not addressing the larger percent of private dog attack situations and only a small part of public ones, as numerous breeds are involved. Dogs that often are not properly confined or socialized. It is irresponsible to claim such laws as a safety measure. We have dangerous dog laws which apply now to all dogs and owners. Strengthen and enforce them and say "No" to anti-dog lobbies who will call for other breeds to be restricted, thereby punishing more innocent voters. (79 words).
- Public place attacks account for only 20 percent of all dog attacks. These restrictions cannot guarantee a reduction in the unacceptable risk to children from a known dog in, or near, their home. Measures are needed which will apply equally to all situations and recognize the owner is in charge of the dog and responsible for its behavior. (68 words).
- How can restricting 2 or 3 percent of dogs which attacked provide safety for the public? And especially children bitten most often by dogs which irresponsible or neglectful owners have not contained properly? Would not the restricted measures be more appropriately applied to all proven dangerous dogs regardless of breed? In all cases, an owner is actually responsible for the dog, whether legally or illegally owned, and must be made to conform to expected community standards of safety. (79 words).
- Where are the evaluations of existing laws? And where are the full facts on dog attacks in private as well as public; along with dog populations and breed popularity for comparisons in setting new goals for ordinances? These facts are among the matters any full review should cover before introducing any new measures - especially those unsustainable illogical BSL measures. As was said in the United Kingdom, this is the worst kind of legislation, "...legislation which defies common sense and which denies normal and compassionate treatment of citizens and animals alike. Most importantly, it is unnecessary legislation..." (Dr. R. Mugford, re DDA 1991, UK in 1993 speech). "Your government is ill-advised to appease media calls for action with rushed and indefensible laws, which will invite litigation and garner enormous costs." (129 words).
- Surely offending dogs and their owners must be the government's target. BSL is not needed. It is unjust, cruel to animals, and will provide a drain on the public budget. I find it unacceptable a politician is prepared to waste funds on doomed measures aimed at only a small facet of the dog attack problems. It could provide public education about responsible dog ownership for less money, and address the real issues of human control and ownership of dogs. (78 words).
E: POINTS TO ADDRESS
- The most effective dangerous dog laws are those that place the legal responsibility for a dog's actions on the dog's owner rather than on the dog. Dogs exist in society at the grace of man who owns, trains, uses or abuses them. They respond with instinctive senses or trained behavior to situations, not reasoned and planned action. Owners read the laws and must obey them or be heavily penalized. (74 words).
- I urge (you or the elected official) to rescind these undemocratic laws and increase support for enforcement of unilaterally applied, sensible containment and control laws for all dogs and owners; such as leash laws and off leash areas; education; fence checks; and rewards for training the dog. Then the main offenders must be severely penalized even to the point of losing the privilege of dog ownership. (61 words).
- The best laws hold the owner of any breed of dog accountable for bite victims' pain and suffering; and they mandate certain corrective measures to be a deterrent as well as withhold the privilege of dog ownership from the unworthy. Kindly rescind the breed restrictive clauses and treat all owners and dogs fairly and unilaterally. Apply fair ownership rules, checks and graded and serious penalties for offenders. (67 words).
F: COURT RULINGS
- Breed-specific laws are not the best way to protect communities. An owner intent on using his or her dogs for malicious purposes will simply be able to switch to another breed of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety. The list of regulated breeds or types could grow every year without ever addressing responsible dog ownership. Deeds, not breeds, should be addressed.
- Breed-specific laws are hard to enforce. breed identification requires expert knowledge of the individual breeds, placing great burdens on local officials.
- Breed-specific laws are unfair to responsible owners.
- Breed-specific laws increase community expenditures. Shelter costs for the community could rise as citizens abandon targeted breeds and adoptable dogs of the targeted breeds could be euthanized at shelters.
- Some communnities have had their breed-specific laws overturned on constitutional grounds of due process. Because proper identification of what dogs would be included is difficult or impossible, the law may be deemed unconstitutionally vague.
- Strongly enforced animal control laws (such as leash laws), generic guidelines on dealing with dangerous dogs, and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are better ways to protect communities from dangerous animals.
- Breed-specific legislation is opposed by American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, American Dog Breeders Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, National Animal Control Association, and a host of national animal welfare organizations.
The US Supreme Court in Nicchia vs People of the State of New York, 254 US 228 (1920) gave police the power to regulate and control dangerous dogs with drastic measures as long as it does not infringe on dog owners' right to liberty with due process.
In 2002, the Alabama Surpreme Court affirmed a trial court decision that American Pit Bull Terriers are not dangerous. (Huntsville vs four pit bull pupies - Ala 08-30-02 No. 1010459).
In 2004, the Toledo Municipal Court ruled American Pit Bull Terriers are not dangerous and granted dog owners due process rights. (Telllings vs City of Toledo CRB-02-15267).
In 2004, the Ohio Supreme Court, in State vs Cowan, 103 Ohio St. 3d 144, 2004-Ohio-4777 struck down ORC955:11 which declared the Pit Bull vicious because it violates due process.
In 2005, the Oklahoma Attorney General, in issuing an opinion to Oklahoma's generic dangerous dog law, ruled cities and towns may not enact breed specific legislation.
G: POINTS TO PONDER
(Source: National Safety Council)
- For every pit bull that kills or injures, there are hundreds of thousands that don't.
- Although there are no accurate or even near accurate census records for dogs in the US, in some populations, pit bulls are estimated to comprise some 30 to 40 percent of the dog population. That makes it a very popular breed. Considering that there were an estimated 53,000,000 dogs in the US, and assuming that pit bulls make up 10 percent of that population, there would be 5.3 million pit bulls in our society. In 2000, 13 pit bulls were involved in 8 fatal attacks. That is roughly one dog out of 204,000, or .000385 percent of the pit bull population.
- During a 37-year period (1965-2001) pit bulls have been blamed for an average of 2.48 human fatalities per year.
- Each year, 350 people drown in their bathtubs. A person is 151 times more likely to be killed in their own bathtub than by a pit bull.
- It is estimated that about 500 deaths per year are caused by aspirin. A person is more than 200 times more likely to die from taking aspirin than from a pit bull attack.
- Approximately 150 people are killed every year by falling coconuts. A person is more than 60 times more likely to be killed by a falling coconut than by a pit bull.