Well, my Mummy had her 5 sekonds of fame on Saturday wen she talked to the noospaper man abowt the noo rools fer dawgs wut mite happen ware I live. The bad man on the City Kouncil finally got his BSL up fer a vote and sum stoopid politishuns passes it 4 to 3. The final vote iz this Wednesday, and unless sumbuddy changes hiz mind, it will pass.
Defending the pit bull
Crowd protests Elgin’s proposed breed-specific regulations
March 7, 2010
ELGIN — There was a little barking downtown Saturday morning as more than 50 people, many of them with walking with their pets, marched to show their displeasure with proposed breed-specific regulations that would clamp down on pit bulls.
What prompted the peaceful protest was a 4-3 vote two weeks ago by the city council, which moved along changes to its regulations that include rules that apply only to pit bulls. A council vote is expected on the matter on Wednesday. Any changes would go into effect in June.
Protestors march down East Highland Avenue in downtown Elgin on Saturday morning during a protest in opposition to breed-specific regulations, aimed at pit bulls, that the city council is considering.
(Andrew A. Nelles/For Sun-Times Media)
“Punish the deed, not the breed,” read a couple of the signs on display as the group took an orderly stroll starting and ending at City Hall.
“Breed-specific laws seem to punish the innocent and won’t do much of anything to control the problem of bad owners,” said longtime pit bull owner Will Alexander. Fellow Elgin resident Julia Long was concerned that the laws would apply to her “mutt,” based solely on its looks.
The city has not updated its animal-control ordinance in more than 20 years, and after two pit bull dogs mauled a smaller dog to death, started researching the matter. Pit bull owners not following the new rules could face fines of $1,000 or more. As of the last council session, those rules include pit bull owners buying three-year licenses for their dogs at a cost of $100, putting an identifying microchip in the dogs, and having at least $100,000 of homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance coverage.
Pit bulls would have to be evaluated, spayed or neutered and would be required to undergo obedience classes and be held on nonretractable leads and muzzled when taken for a walk. Only people age 18 or older would be allowed to walk pit bulls.
The same rules would apply to any dog that a hearing officer or court deemed to be dangerous (pit bulls automatically would be classified as such) or vicious (a dog that attacks unprovoked). Vicious dogs would not be allowed to be taken for walks on Elgin streets. Owners of dangerous and/or vicious dogs would have to put signs up by their residences warning others about their pets.
In a memo sent to council members March 3, corporation counsel put forward modifications for the ordinance, including reducing the license fee to $50 and the size of required signage to 1 foot by 1 foot; allowing smaller fences provided a dog is muzzled or tethered and under adult supervision, and allowing pit bulls from outside Elgin to be in town with proof of registration and/or licensing elsewhere.
Some protestors Saturday questioned the legality of the city’s plan. Even with further changes, many said they feel restrictions are unfair and might amount to a de facto pit bull ownership ban, which would fly in the face of the state’s law forbidding breed-specific bans.
Other demonstrators were disappointed the city did not consult local animal-care experts when putting together the amendments.
“We called some local vets and shelters to determine how they handle pit bulls that weren’t licensed, but we did not solicit the input of vets or shelters before moving forward with the proposed ordinance,” Elgin Public Information Officer Susan Olafson said Tuesday.
Vet groups weigh in
What the city would have learned were that, while they agree with much of the amended ordinance, Anderson Animal Shelter and Elgin veterinarians Donald Bone and Edwin Minard, whose wife, Katherine, helped organize Saturday’s rally oppose breed-specific aspects.
That opinion is shared by the Humane Society of the United States, the Burr Ridge-based Chicago Veterinary Medical Association, and the Schaumburg-based American Veterinary Medical Association.
“I looked at their ordinance, and it looks like they are providing many great tools for animal control and the police,” said Jordan Matyas, Illinois State Director for the Humane Society. “The issue of (singling out) a breed is simply not going to help their community and will not solve the problem. I would hope that the city could focus on enforcing existing law and strengthening new laws without wasting time and money defending the what some might see as a ban of a breed that will do nothing to solve the issue that confronts them.”
Bone received a copy of a letter CVMA legislative chair and vet Shannon Greeley sent to Elgin city officials on March 2. The document states the organization “strongly supports enforcing leash laws, vaccination requirements and the implementation of such programs to teach responsible ownership. In addition, we advocate setting clear guidelines to manage dangerous dogs on an individual basis.”
Bone also objected to the “pit bull passport,” which would have required his clients who live outside of Elgin to have a document from the police department allowing them to bring their pets to town.
AVMA spokesman Michael San Filippo said the group “supports dangerous animal legislation by state, county, or municipal governments provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds or classes of animals. This legislation should be directed at fostering safety and protection of the general public from animals classified as dangerous.”
The organization also has an online document, http://www.avma.org/public_health/dogbite/dogbite.pdf, which “addresses a number of reasons why we feel breed-specific legislation is an ineffective way to address the problem of dog bites,” San Filippo said.
Still, there is some academic support for efforts such as Elgin’s. Alan Beck, Professor and Director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, feels that, based on data and studies, there is a need for special rules for pit bulls.
Contacted last week, Beck mentioned the Web site dogsbite.org, which, on its homepage, states, “In the 3-year period from 2006 to 2008, pit bull-type dogs killed 52 Americans and accounted for 59 percent of all fatal attacks. Combined, pit bulls and Rottweilers accounted for 73 percent of these deaths.”
According to Beck, pit bulls are the most common breed to attack or kill other dogs. Beck also noted that “there are now some 230 cities, in 32 or so states, that have some form of BSL. All report a lessening of serious and fatal bites after the legislation took effect. All U.S. military bases now have BSL regulations. BSL is common outside the United States, in most cases starting before any U.S. law.”
Beck said the he is working on a project with Belinda Lewis, the animal control director in Fort Wayne, Ind., analyzing the data “as that city tracks the breeds of dogs that bite people and other dogs and grades their severity.” The numbers are showing pit bulls accounting for a majority of the bites to people and to other dogs in that town.
In a piece Beck wrote for Veterinary Forum magazine in 2007, he said, “I do not believe it is appropriate to take pit bull dogs away from their owners and believe such laws are unconscionable. However, I do find enough evidence to support restrictions, such as leashing and muzzling when in public and not adding to their numbers in society.”
The state ware I live does not allow BSL, but the city ware I live iz sumthang kalled Home Rule and the politishuns thank they kan do BSL if they want. They kan all jump off a bridge if they want, but that wood be as stoopid as BSL. Mummy acktually sed a lot of other thangs to the noospaper man, but he picked and choosed that one sentence becuz it fit gud in his artikle.
Please send sum gud wishes that sum kommon sense prevales here, becuz I reely do not want to ware a muzzle.
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