Malden, MA - Last week we reported on a pit bull ordinance passed by Malden City Council. Part of the blog post addressed Dr. Amy Marder who claimed that "a leash will prevent dog bites as well as a muzzle" when being quizzed by Councillor Neil C. Kinnon. The post also noted that the "hollering pit bull owners" attending the meeting failed to grasp the language of the ordinance, which grandfathered in existing pit bull owners if they registered their dog prior to May 1.
On Wednesday, Councillor Kinnon answered critics of the pit bull ordinance in a letter to the editor of the Malden Advocate. It is a fantastic letter that clarifies the pit bull ordinance, offers city dog bite statistical data, zings the "good Doctor" further by stating that her "evidence lacked credibility, as no scientist would ever claim a sample size of ten" and concludes with a statistical comparison that powerfully confirms the rational fear persons maintain about the pit bull breed.
Dear Editor, Malden Advocate, and Malden’s Citizens:
This past week the City Council passed a Pit Bull Ordinance which will take effect on May 1, 2012 (provided the Mayor signs it). It will exempt current pit bulls which are licensed by that time with some reasonable stipulations. Hopefully this letter might clarify what is in the Pit Bull Ordinance, the reasons for it and why some of the information opponents are spinning is simply misinformation or untrue.
Snippets taken by DogsBite.org:
- "According to Animal Control fifty-seven dog bites were recorded from 2009-2011. Eighteen of the bites were committed by pit bulls. The next closest breeds that bit were German Shepherds, Bull Mastiffs and Dobermans, which recorded only two bites each. The data broken down in its simplest terms means pit bulls account for approximately 6.7% of our registered dogs and committed 31.6% of the dog bites."
- "The ordinance requires pit bulls to be spayed or neutered in order to get an exemption from the muzzling law. The advocates who spoke to the Council also advocate spaying and neutering of pit bulls as part of any plan."
- "The ordinance the Council passed requires a fence if one wishes to let their dog out in the yard without a muzzle. PittBullLovers.com states for those looking to own a pit bull "you should have a six foot privacy fence"
- "The ordinance passed by the City Council will guarantee high license compliance for pit bulls, which all advocates say is needed, as it exempts, from the muzzle ordinance, all current pit bull owners who reside in Malden as long as they come in to register for a license and provide the proper spay and neutering documentation."
- "The pit bull advocates continue to claim that BSL (breed specific legislation) does not work and yet over 600 communities in America have adopted it. The Marine Corps and the Army have gone so far as to adopt total bans of pit bulls and their close relatives on all their bases in the last few years."1
- "When the Doctor was asked how many dogs were in her study and how many had some American Staffordshire, her answer was her study included ten dogs and she didn’t know how many included some American Staffordshire. Her evidence lacked credibility, as no scientist would ever claim a sample size of ten was a real study and after stating that DNA didn’t contain Staffordshire in many instances, she didn’t know how many contained some Staffordshire in the sample."2
- "The pit bull advocates continue to state it will be impossible to enforce a muzzle law and that we should instead focus on licensing and strong leash law enforcement of all dogs. One can only conclude from all actual evidence that it would be just as easy for an animal control officer or other law enforcement officer to enforce a muzzle law as it is to enforce a leash law. Is it harder for a dog officer to see if a dog is on a four foot leash or muzzle?"
Councillor Kinnon saved the whopper comparison for his conclusion that illustrates just how dangerous pit bulls are and that fears about the breed are rational:
If there were as many pit bulls in Malden as people, and bite incidents were classified as aggravated assaults, the average rate of aggravated assault by pit bulls in the last three years would have been over 1,500 per year. If one calculated the same math on all other dogs, during that span, the average aggravated assault level each year would have been approximately 220. In the last three years the actual average number of aggravated assaults in Malden, by humans, has been 169. Therefore pit bulls per capita commit almost 10 times the aggravated assaults as do humans. The person who discriminates when seeing a pit bull walking down the street does not do so out of an irrational fear but does so because they are 10 times as likely to be attacked by the pit bull. (Neil Kinnon, Ward Six City Councillor, Malden Advocate, April 11, 2012)
Kudos Councillor Neil Kinnon!
2Kinnon is presumably referring to a study by Dr. Amy Marder. Initially, we had thought Dr. Voith's study (Comparison of Adoption Agency Breed Identification and DNA Breed Identification of Dogs) to be the culprit, but it uses a sample pool of 20. We then found a short piece by Marder and Voith that references an "unnamed" study by Marder, "In a separate study, Amy Marder and colleagues analyzed DNA samples from dogs visually identified as "pit bull mixes." (The American Shelter Dog: Identification of Dogs By Personality). Marder's "unnamed" study is also referenced in a March 2009 blog post.
04/04/12: Pit Bull Ordinance Passes in Malden City, Massachusetts
09/13/09: U.S. Marine Corps Bans Pit Bulls and Other Breeds; Policy Affects...
03/17/09: U.S. Army Adopts Breed Restriction Policy for RCI Privatized Housing
06/01/08: Pit Bull Ban FAQ by Councilman Brian Powers