Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Spokane, WA - A woman who was attacked by a pit bull back in April is now pushing for a ban in the City of Spokane. The town has been on the DogsBite.org Watch List since May. The numerous pit bull attacks, combined with dogfighting and two questionable animal agencies in a population of 200,000 signals a problem. Our last blog posts in July and May describe these issues in more detail.
The victim, Nancy Sonduck, was attacked by three dogs in her fenced yard. At the time, all she had to defend herself and her two dogs was a plastic gardening bucket. "I hit the pit bull in the middle twice in the head and it did not faze it," she said. It took a shovel-wielding neighbor more than five minutes to get the dogs out of the yard. Since the attack, she said she's heard dozens of stories from neighbors who were also attacked by pit bulls.
The victims were too intimidated by the owners to report it.Sonduck brought the issue to the City Council on Monday seeking new laws against the breed, including a ban against any new pit bulls within city limits. She wants all existing pit bulls to be spayed or neutered. Five people, including Sonduck, testified at the meeting about problems they've faced with pit bulls. City Council President Joe Shogan promised that the council would explore the issue.
Gail Mackie, the executive director of SpokAnimal (city animal shelter), was possibly untruthful at the meeting. She said that a breed-specific ordinance is likely "not legal." Yet, section 16.08.090 of Washington state law specifically allows for them and many cities across Washington have breed-specific laws. In 1989, the Washington State Supreme Court also upheld the validity of the Yakima ban.
Mackie did admit that many of the 1,500 calls SpokAnimal receives are complaints about pit bulls. Nancy Hill, the director of SCRAPS (county animal shelter), said pit bulls and their mixes make up almost half of the shelter's population. Back in May, SCRAPS wanted to adopt out eight dogs that had been seized in a dogfighting bust. This is after the dogs had been returned to them due to issues with the dogs.
Both Mackie and Hill illustrate a formidable problem to city council members, the news media and the general public. When people want information about pit bulls, they often look to the directors of local animal agencies. Unfortunately, most of them label breed-specific laws as "canine racism" (a term unsupported by the US constitution) or it's "illegal" (not in Washington state), as a way to defend their beliefs.
Animal agencies consistently act as road blocks to cities wanting to develop breed-specific laws. If a city does manage to institute one, it becomes the animal agency's duty to enforce the law. If the agency was strongly opposed to the law in the first place, how can citizens trust them to enforce the new law? Once again, we come to the issue of whether or not some animal agencies can be trusted to enforce public safety.
07/29/08: Father Hangs Pit Bull After Dog Attacks Son
05/30/08: Pit Bulls in Spokane, Washington Can't Stay Out of the News
04/17/08: Pit Bull Attack Puts Owner in the Hospital
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| 9/10/2008 7:07 AM |
Common theme among pit bull advocates is this idea of personal experience with the breed and how that trumps any historical or expert analysis of the dogs. You see this often in comment sections of attack articles. They have a pit bull (one dog) and it is so loving therefore this is how all pit bulls can be. They don't accept the fact that pit bulls were bred for fighting and are genetically programmed to do so. They don't accept many of the attack stories are even pit bulls. And if they are caused by pit bulls, it is always the owner's fault, or the victim's fault, never the product of the animal's instincts and genetics. When you have animal control workers who admit that nearly half their shelter dogs are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, that's a lot of pit bulls they are dealing with on a daily basis. And I'm sure some of them come in from abusive situations which would pull at any animal lovers heartstrings. As we've seen in the ASPCA Pit Bull Guide, this causes a kennel blindness as shelter workers become attatched to these animals and more familar with them. Hard facts are replaced with personal experiences - experiences limited to a shelter I might add - and opinions form on those experiences alone. And then facts are gathered to support those opinions, even false facts such as BSL is illegal. The result is an animal control that works for pit bulls instead of the public and promotes pit bulls at the expense of all other dogs (such as the ASPCA's Adopt-A-Bull program). Shelter workers should be required to take courses in breed histories and dog behavior to show them that individual experiences with individual dogs is not a replacement for actual knowledge.
| 9/10/2008 7:40 AM |
The dogs that mauled the Seattle woman had numerous complaints to Animal Control. Way too many resources are being consumed by the pit bull community.
| 9/10/2008 10:18 AM |
Our animal shelter person owns a pit bull and says they are just wonderful dogs. The aniaml shelters should be part of our law enforcement not a private business, tax dollars should not be used like this.
| 9/12/2008 4:22 AM |
Yep.... an we see time and time again , the pit bull community consuming the lions share of a city's A/C budget. Some of these agencies have been turned into full-time, tax supported Pit bull rescues.
The nutters seem to feel a sense of entitlement rather than embarassment.