Not Again! Yakima Council To Revisit Pit Bull Ban
So here we go again. A city council member has asked for the pit bull ban to be revisited--AGAIN! Why? I have an unverified report that the city may be facing a lawsuit over its ban on pit bulls in the city limits so perhaps it is the prospect of that which motivates councilwoman Carmen Mendez to bring forth the issue again? But if not that, what?
Pit bulls? - "Asked and answered" as they say on those TV courtroom dramas. Pit bulls? "Been there done that, got the t-shirt" as they say on the streets. It's been settled city policy for 30 years. It was brought up a couple of years ago and defeated and now the will of the people and the people themselves may be at risk again?
But let's be fair- have there been any changes in reputation based on pit bull behavior over the past 30 years. HMMM, er..NO. Have the overwhelmingly disproportionate stats on pit bull attacks, mauling and humans killed gone away? um....NO. Because if they haven't, then what the heck are we thinking, again!
Some people who say they are concerned about safety fear the so-called assault rifle because of its "deadly potential". They believe a ban on such weapons would make us all safer. But a rifle can sit in the corner all day everyday and it will never attack anyone...not a stranger, not a friend, not its owner. It makes no decision to act on its own. Deadly potential - certainly. But so has a knife, arrow,a rock, hammer or baseball bat. We don't ban them because we see them as tools. It takes a deadly human intent and action to turn them into killers.
Compare that to the deadly potential of a pit bull. It is powerful with crushing jaws and a persistence that surpasses other breeds when aroused to fight. And here's the difference. The pit bull has a mind of its own. It can decide to leave the rifle and the corner behind and savagely attack strangers, friends and family and often for no apparent reason.
We are told about individual animals that are just loving, gentle, playful pets. I'm sure that's true for some. Just like my bat is for hitting home runs, not the neighbor. But the lethal potential is there with a pit bull and it can be activated despite the best intent of its owner-because the dog has a mind of its own and generations of aggression and intense physical capability bread into its DNA. We can't keep jungle cats as pets either for the same reasons.
We hear the stories all the time about family pit bulls that turned on their care takers with deadly consequences and then the dog transforms back into something that seems tame and docile as a kitten. That is the problem. The deadly potential married to a mercurial personality and the ability to choose to act on its own without provocation is what makes pit bull unsuited for an innocent and unprepared society. A person should be able to walk past any yard with a dog and not have to fear for their safety if the dog is having a bad day and decides to act out.
There is a lot of conflict about fair reporting of pit bull attacks. Are there any other dog breeds that are so often "falsely accused"? Seems pretty much confined to that breed--I wonder why?
Wikipedia reports - University of Texas Health Science Center Researchers at the Department of Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center examined data from the trauma and emergency surgery center from a 15-year period. Their findings were published in 2011 in the medical journal Annals of Surgery The researchers concluded that "Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites.
The same article references the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 1979–1998
The study found reports of 327 people killed by dogs over the 20-year period. Some breed information was available for 238 (73%) of the fatalities. Of 227 incidents with relevant data, 133 (58%) were unrestrained dogs and on the owners' property; 55 (24%) were loose off the owners' property; 38 (17%) were restrained dogs on their owners' property; and only one (less than 1%) was restrained off the owners' property so where is the safe zone when it comes to dog attacks?
The study found that Pit bulls and Rottweiler" alone accounted for 67% of deaths. Powerful dogs bred for aggressiveness. What percent of the dog population do they represent? Deaths from wolfdogs, also known as wolf hybrids, plummeted after most states banned them as pets. I wonder why they did that?
The most recent study of the epidemiology of fatal dog bites in the United States was published in the Journal of the "American Veterinary Medical Association" in 2013. While earlier studies were based on television and newspaper reports, this was the first study to be based on law-enforcement reports, animal control reports, and investigator statements. It identified preventable factors in the fatal incidents. They found that the most common contributing factors were: absence of an able-bodied person to intervene, no familiar relationship of victims with dogs, owner failure to neuter dogs, compromised ability of victims to interact appropriately with dogs (e.g. mental disabilities), dogs kept isolated from regular positive human interactions versus family dogs (e.g. dogs kept chained in backyards), owners' prior mismanagement of dogs, and owners' history of abuse or neglect of dogs. Furthermore, they found that in 80% of the incidents, 4 or more of the above factors co-occurred.
Again, what this says to me is there are many less than responsible pet owners out there. But who are they? Can you pick them out of a line up? No you can't. So there is no way to know who is responsible enough to properly raise and control pit bulls which is another reason NOT to take the unnecessary risk of letting them move in next door to your family.
We can throw statistics and headlines at each other all day. The very fact that we can means the number of incidents are real and that alone is another reason not to risk the health and safety of my child or yours.
There are hundreds of breeds of dogs that come reputation free and make for excellent pets. Will that guarantee one of them will never bite. Nope. They are animals with minds of their own. But as Texas health experts concluded, "Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites.
Let's not needlessly expose the community to the kind of risk and disaster that resulted in a ban more than 30 years ago. The dogs haven't changed and neither should our ban.