Thursday, May 6, 2010

How To Get Your Dog Banned in One Easy Step

Auburn, California, as we've previously blogged, had an incident a few months ago where a small group of Pit Bulls attacked a teenager. After that attack, Auburn was looking at drafting a new anti-Pit Bull ordinance. Originally, council member Kevin Hanley wanted to ban Pit Bulls (Auburn Journal report), but he later discovered that banning Pit Bulls is illegal in California.

After many hours of advocacy and education attempts, it appeared that we had been successful in showing most of the Auburn City Council members that any new dog law should target irresponsible owners of all breeds, not Pit Bulls as a breed. Will Wong, Auburn Community Development Director, has been working on some draft ordinances to submit to the city council, and we've been in close contact with him about when these draft ordinances might be ready for review.

Just before the draft ordinances were finalized, a dog that the Auburn Journal identified initially as an 80-pound male Pit Bull escaped its owners yard, went into the neighbor's hard, and attacked a 91 year-old man, doing serious damage to his hand. A responding police officer chased and ultimately shot and killed the dog.

As it turns out, the dog is not a purebred "pitbull" (as Auburn spells the breed). The dog was identified by animal control as a Rottweiler / Pit Bull mix. What that means is, unless the owners have both parents on site (which doesn't appear to be the case), there really is no way to determine with any degree of accuracy the breed of the dog. Pit Bulls, as educated people know, generally do not reach the 80 pound mark (unless they are very overweight!). The breed standards for the various registries that recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier generally call for a dog between 40 and 65 pounds.

In a followup article, the Auburn Journal changed the breed reference from "pitbull" to "pitbull cross," referencing once in the second paragraph that the dog was identified as Rottweiler-Pit Bull mix.

Although, according to News10, the dog in question was actually a record-breaking, 80-pound Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Now that is one really, really big Bull! (For those who don't know, Staffy Bulls are generally between 24 and 38 pounds).

Of course, even though Pit Bulls are usually smaller, that doesn't mean they don't get up to 80 pounds. Sure they do, just like human beings sometimes reach seven feet in height. However, 80+ pounds is not typical of purebred Pit Bulls (of course, there are many mixed breed dogs identified by bystanders as either "Pit Bulls" or "Pit Bull" mixes).

Not that it really matters what breed the dog was in this case. What matters is that an irresponsible owner who, according to some reports, had a dog known to act aggressively in the past, continued to keep this dog and -- even worse -- keep it in an unsecured back yard from which it was easily able to escape.

Pit Bull owners (and owners of dogs that look like they might possibly have touched a drop of Bully Breed in their lineage), if you really want to make sure that anti-Pit Bull laws come to your town, all you have to do is let your dog roam loose--bonus points if your dog is aggressive and injures a person!

Of course, we have to point out the obvious once again -- the Auburn Journal has only, thus far, reported on Pit Bull attacks. The only mention of anything even resembling a non-Pit Bull dog attack is in a letter to the editor when a man states a good Samaritan tried to return a wallet when his Rottweiler "almost attacked" the good Samaritan. The other mention is a brief photo caption of a person holding out money as a reward for a dog that attacked a horse.

If you read The Auburn Journal, you'd think that Pit Bulls are the only dogs that bite in Auburn, which is obviously not true. The truth is that The Auburn Journal simply doesn't care to report on bites by other dog attacks. The old adage "Dog bites man isn't news, but man bites dog is!" remains true--except if the dog happens to look like it might be a Pit Bull or Pit bull mix.

To test this theory, we had one of our supporters contact The Auburn Journal to tell a reporter all about an attack by a Labrador Retriever. The Auburn Journal  hasn't yet bothered to return that message.

Author: D Capp

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