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Stop the bullying of pit bulls and their owners.

This petition had 339 supporters

Mayor Menino and councilman Robert Consalvo are adamant about overturning a recent bill passed that ends breed specific legislation in Boston. "Pit bulls are a problem,” said Consalvo. “They attack humans and other dogs more than any other breed. They’re just a dangerous dog.” “It’s very unfortunate,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “Pit bulls are an issue in the city of Boston, and we should have the authority to deal with the issue.”
Menino is mad that no one asked for his authority on the matter and he wants to punish the dogs. The owner is the problem, we need higher fines/penalties on animal neglect and cruelty. The dog is the last one in the equation to be punished, shouldn't a city official know better?


The MSPCA has a lot of  helpful information including this list as to why breed specific legislation does no good:


It is overinclusive.  Breed-discriminatory legislation unfairly brands all dogs of a particular breed, regardless of their behavioral history.

There are problems with enforcement.  If dogs involved in bites are not licensed and not restrained on a leash, the owners are unlikely to comply with breed-specific regulations.

It is underinclusive.  Breed-discriminatory legislation does not impact on dogs of other breeds that may be dangerous.

There are problems with identification.  In American Dog owners Association v. City of Lynn, 404 Mass. 72, 80 (1989), the court found:  “Unlike an ordinance which generally prohibits the keeping of a "vicious dog," enforcement of which involves questions of fact whether the particular dog is vicious or known by its owner to be vicious, or a strict liability restraint or dog bite law, such as G. L. c. 140, § 155, the Lynn Pit Bull ban ordinance depends for enforcement on the subjective understanding of dog officers of the appearance of an ill-defined "breed," leaves dog owners to guess at what conduct or dog "look" is prohibited, and requires "proof" of a dog's "type" which, unless the dog is registered, may be impossible to furnish. Such a law gives unleashed discretion to the dog officers charged with its enforcement, and clearly relies on their subjective speculation whether a dog's physical characteristics”

There are potential legal challenges.  Breed-discriminatory legislation has been challenged (successfully in Massachusetts) on due process and equal protection grounds.  See American Dog owners Association v. City of Lynn, 404 Mass. 72, 80 (1989).

Other breeds of dogs could be trained to be dangerous.   Without targeting the real factors that cause dog bites to occur, people who want a “dangerous” dog are simply going to move on to the next breed of dog.  Or those who keep dogs for fighting or
other illegal purposes would not comply and even worse  -- could result with dogs being kept in a manner that could exacerbate their unpredictability and aggressiveness. 

Instead, we believe alternatives should be explored.  Alternatives can include:

  • Increasing fines for violation of the dangerous dog ordinance;
  • Mandatory education classes on dog ownership and obedience training if a dog is declared dangerous;
  • Mandatory sterilization of animals declared dangerous;
  • Prohibition on owners who have had dangerous dogs banned from the city from owning a dog again (for a certain number of years);
  • Requiring a dog that has been found running at large over a certain number of times, to comply with ordinance, even if not “dangerous."

In addition, municipalities can explore alternatives outside the ordinance to prevent dog bites. This could include:

  • Increasing the number of animal control officers;
  • Increasing the number of licensed dogs;
  • Initiating a campaign to promote reporting of dogs running at large;
  • Educating the community about responsible animal ownership and obedience training
  • Passing a spay/neuter ordinance that will not only combat overpopulation, but will minimize the number of dogs who are bred irresponsibly and indiscriminately and for traits such as aggression; 
  • Increasing the cost of a license for unsterilized animals.

We encourage municipalities to form a task force consisting of a diverse group of interests, backgrounds and expertise to explore substantive, long-term strategies that will reach the goal we all want -- a decrease in the number of dog bites.

As stated in the JAVMA article, “Although this (specific breeds as dangerous) is a common concern, singling out 1 or 2 breeds for control can result in a false sense of accomplishment.  Doing so ignores the true scope of the problem and will not result in a responsible approach to protecting a community’s citizens.”

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