Monster Lawsuits Brewing
New York City - The finger pointing has begun in New York. Which city agency is responsible for the systematic failures that led to the horrific mauling of Heny Piotrowski? Within 24 hours, two more victims were struck by pit bulls, 2-year old Kamar Reynolds had his ear ripped off and two New York firefighters got attacked too, one suffered severe bites to his leg and the other to his hand.
Animal advocates are blaming the city, because in the pit bull mess, animal folks are never at fault. After Piotrowski was attacked, neighbors said they had called 911 and 311 countless times in the past year hoping authorities would seize the dogs. Both police and animal control said they had no detailed reports of the dogs, despite acknowledging that 9 calls were logged about them.
The point of breed-specific laws is to avoid this confusion.
Laws that directly target pit bulls allow authorities to act after one phone call. They don't have to send a warning letter (which can take weeks). They don't have to document one bite then wait for another bite before taking action. The very basis of breed-specific law is to allow authorities to harshly fine the owner or seize the animal before an attack.
The State of Ohio, which deems pit bulls as "vicious," is a perfect example. Pit bull owners are required to carry $100,000 in liability coverage, have a secure on-property pen and use a chain-link leash when off-property. When animal control is called in, they check these rules. Nine times out of ten, the pit bull owner is breaking all of them, which really racks up the fines.
If the owner can't pay, a judge can force the animal's surrender.
Without laws to target the breed, everybody pays for the pit bull problem. In the instance of Heny Piotrowski, Kama Reynolds and the two firefighters -- whose combined medical costs will breach a million dollars -- the city of New York and taxpayers will shell out the medical costs on top of legal bills, which may triple the medical costs. The pit bull owners? They won't pay a dime.
07/03/08: Coverage of the Henry Piotrowski Pit Bull Mauling