Nearly 70% Say No
Indianapolis, IN - In the May 2009 edition of Animal People, an article discusses an online poll recently conducted by WTHR-TV. The poll was taken to measure public support of the proposed At Risk Dogs ordinance by Indianapolis council member Mike Speedy, which would require sterilizing pit bulls. The poll found 69% support for Speedy's proposed ordinance, against 26% opposition and 5% undecided. Sara Galer of WTHR said that 1,988 people participated.
Online polls are not scientific, but Animal People's controlled survey findings suggest that WTHR's results are close to residual public opinion nationwide.
The May article discusses the common "initial response" to online polls that try to measure the public's desire for a breed-specific law following a serious pit bull attack. They report that the early response "usually skews heavily in favor of breed-specific legislation, but after the first few dozen votes are recorded, input tips abruptly the other way -- unless the poll is quickly closed." This abrupt tip is likely due to an organized response by opponents of breed-specific laws.
To better understand the early poll tilt in favor of breed-specific laws, Animal People conducted a survey of their own. The central question being: Does the early poll tilt reflect residual opinion, likely to be found in any poll at any time, or just reaction to local incidents? In a tightly controlled small survey of people from places where there had not been recent pit bull attacks and the legislative debate that often follows, Animal People asked participants three questions and analyzed the results.
Animal People Survey Results
- 68%, including 71% of the men and 62% of the women, agreed that they would prefer not to live next door to a pit bull. 28% -- 29% of the men but only 21% of the women -- did not object to living next door to a pit bull.
- Four percent of the respondents had a pit bull, about equal to the rate of keeping pit bulls in the general population. 76% of respondents had pets, far above the U.S. norm of 57%; 24% had children, all of whom also had pets; 24% had neither pets nor children.
- No men were undecided about living next to a pit bull, but 18% of the women were undecided, all of whom had pets but no children living at home.
- Among all respondents with pets, 69% would prefer not to live next door to a pit bull.
- Among all respondents with children at home, 80% would prefer not to live next door to a pit bull. Among all respondents who had ever had children, 86% would prefer not to live next door to a pit bull.
04/24/09: Indianapolis Councillor Files "At Risk" Dog Proposal Today
03/07/09: Coverage of Indianapolis Serious Pit Bull Attacks and Controversy
11/13/07: Group Asks: How Popular Were Pit Bulls Once Upon a Time?