Sooner Survey (2005)
Oklahoma City, OK - On November 15th, 2005, a press release was issued concerning a professional poll conducted by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates. Because it was a legitimate poll -- not an online poll that can be spammed by pit bull advocates -- it showed legitimate results. The often silent, common sense majority voice was finally heard.
The majority favored a ban on pit bulls 55% to 35%.
At the time, State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft was proposing a statewide bill to ban pit bulls in Oklahoma. People currently owning pit bulls could keep their dogs, but would have to meet certain requirements. Wesselhoft said the polling firm conducted the survey without his knowledge. He also addressed "pit bull spamming" activities in the press release:
"Some of my colleagues were under the impression that the majority of Oklahomans opposed the ban because legislators have received a flurry of calls and e-mails from people who were against banning pit bulls. However, most of those contacts were generated by a strongly organized vocal minority of breeders and owners, many of whom were from out of state."
Wesselhoft added that the results of the survey clearly demonstrated strong support for the ban across the state and across both political parties, as well as among urban, rural, conservative, liberal and moderate voters. Wesselhoft prepared his bill (House Bill 2658) for the 2006 legislative session, but ultimately it did not gain enough support from fellow legislators.
The Results of the Poll Showed
- Men favored the ban 49% to 42%, and women favored the ban 60% to 30%.
- There was hardly contrast between urban and rural dwellers. Urban people favored the ban 56% to 35%, and rural folks favored the ban 54% to 36%.
- The contrast between political parties was similarly small. Republicans favored the ban, 52% to 36%, and Democrats favored the ban, 58% percent to 34% percent.
- Senior citizens were the most adamant about the ban with 62% favoring it and 50% of that amount "strongly" favoring the ban.
- Of the three key Oklahoma political sectors, Democrats who supported Bush in the last election favored the ban 55% to 35%, those undecided on a gubernatorial ballot favored the ban 50% to 37% and Democrats that attended church on a regular basis favored the ban 60% to 29%.
- When positioned alongside the question of stiffer penalties for owners of attacking dogs, the majority opted for stiffer penalties 45% to 12% with 25% of poll takers wanting both stiffer penalties and a ban.
The survey noted that although Drew Edmonson -- the Oklahoma Attorney General at the time of the survey (2005) and continues to hold this position today (2008) -- stated that municipalities could not legally ban specific dogs breeds in the state according to a 1991 statue (SB 87), a statewide ban passed by the state legislature did remain a possibility.
The survey polling group, Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, cautioned that those who "love pit bulls" would be wise to support very tough civil and criminal penalties on the owners of dogs who attack while the public still supports this less drastic action.
Five months before the poll was taken, Cody Yelton, 3-years old, was yanked through two fences by his neighbor's pit bulls. Cody's left arm had to be amputated. An attempt was later made to pass Cody's Law (SB 2658) with the help of Wesselhoft.
Two months after the poll was taken, the first of two Oklahoma dog attack fatalities occur -- both by pit bulls. Cody Adair, 4-years old of Bartlesville, was killed by his uncle's pit bull. The dog had reportedly "never" shown aggression before. In 2007, Rosalie Bivins of Ada, was brutally killed by a pack of loose pit bulls as she fetched her mail.
09/22/08: Oklahoma: One State's Struggle with a Breed-Specific Prohibition