Pit Bulls Are Identifiable Meme Campaign
DogsBite.org - For 25 years appellate courts have ruled that a dog owner of ordinary intelligence can identify a pit bull (See: Ohio v. Anderson, 1991). In addition to this, the high courts have ruled that scientific precision is not required when determining the breed (See: Colorado Dog Fanciers v. Denver, 1991). Yet still the myth persists ad nauseam -- pushed by the Pit Bull Propaganda Machine, pit bull advocates, animal groups and more -- that it is impossible to identify a pit bull.
Readers are familiar with this myth, which has variations like, "it is impossible to identify a pit bull" and "pit bulls can't be identified," and the mothership motto, "there is no such thing as a pit bull." In a series of 8 memes, directly quoting high court rulings, we highlight how the high courts have ruled on this subject. The courts have ruled that a pit bull is a breed of dog with distinctive traits that can be recognized by its physical appearance by a dog owner of ordinary intelligence.
"Pit bull dogs possess unique and readily identifiable physical and behavioral traits which are capable of recognition both by dog owners of ordinary intelligence..."
- Ohio v. Anderson, Supreme Court of Ohio (1991)
The series of memes are for readers to share on Facebook, Twitter, other social media networks and commenting platforms. They are especially effective as Facebook photo comments when debating "breed enthusiasts" who flock to Facebook to comment after a serious or fatal pit bull attack to defend the breed and disseminate false myths. You do not need to engage with these pit bull defenders, just post one of our memes as a photo comment -- no other words are needed.
Why This Myth Must Be Destroyed
The myth that it is impossible to identify a pit bull or that only an "expert" with a suitcase of science can achieve this task must be discredited. Nowhere do the high courts state that "expert" knowledge is necessary to identify a pit bull. Specifically, the high courts state, "a dog owner of ordinary intelligence can determine if he does in fact own a dog commonly known as a pit bull" and the "American pit bull terrier is a recognized breed of dog readily identifiable by laymen."
"The trial court found that the American Pit Bull Terrier is a recognized breed of dog readily identifiable by laymen."
- Garcia v. Village of Tijeras, Court of Appeals of New Mexico (1988)
Our memes are big and bold because we are shouting to the public: Yes you, a dog owner of ordinary intelligence can identify a pit bull! The high courts have clearly stated this. Do not allow this false myth to lead your confidence astray. Moreover, when faced with anyone who claims that a pit bull cannot be identified, whip out one of our high court memes -- it cannot be denied! So be bold, have confidence and help us dismantle this myth, long ago debunked by the high courts!
In Closing: It's an Old Recycled Myth
The weighty curse of this false myth cannot be expressed enough. While it is jarring to see the many pit bull specific rescues who claim, "there is no such thing as a pit bull" while operating a pit bull specific foundation or pit bull specific adoption program, understand that this claim is very old. All four of the high court decisions that were used in these memes (from 1988 to 1991) involved pit bull owners claiming in one way or another that a pit bull is "not a breed" or is "not identifiable."
Pit Bull Identification Meme Campaign
Suggested hashtags: #PitBullsAreIdentifiable | #ICanIDaPitBull
To demonstrate the knowledge required to identify a pit bull, the high courts were specific: "An ordinary person could easily refer to a dictionary, a dog buyer's guide or any dog book for guidance and instruction" (Vanater, 1989), "Consistent and detailed descriptions of the pit bull dog may be found in canine guidebooks, general reference books" (Ohio, 1991), and "the commonly available knowledge of dog breeds typically acquired by potential dog owners" (Toledo, 2007).
We list these early high court decisions in chronological order below leading up to 2008, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Tellings v. Toldeo. Back in the late 80s and early 90s there was no Internet. By today's standards, if you can Google or if you have an iPhone, you can learn how to identify a pit bull. It is that straight forward according to the high courts. Today, dictionaries, dog breed profiles, dog breed information and AKC and UKC breed standards and more are online.
There is an ample body of literature which can aid in the identification of Pit Bulls and, most often, a Pit Bull is identifiable as such by its conformation. - Vanater v. Village of South Point, Dist. Court, SD Ohio (1989)
The other theme that runs through many of the constitutional challenges about pit bull breed identification is best expressed in American Dog Owners Ass'n v. Dade County, FL (1989). The Court wrote, "Plaintiffs contend that there is no such thing as a pit bull dog." Also in 1989, in American Dog Owners Ass'n v. Yakima, WA (1989), the Court wrote: "plaintiffs admit acquiring their pets believing them to be pit bulls, although they now aver they cannot identify the breed."
Fast forward to the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation 25 years later claiming the exact same routine, "I am a pit bull owner" and "There is no such thing as a pit bull," echoing the old recycled themes from the mid 80s. While it is true that "some day" a reliable DNA test might come along for scientific identification, what is also true is that "there is no constitutional requirement that legislation be written with scientific precision to be enforceable" (Colorado Dog Fanciers, 1991).
Chronology of Identifying Breed
The Court concludes that the definitions of a Pit Bull Terrier in this Ordinance are not unconstitutionally vague. An ordinary person could easily refer to a dictionary, a dog buyer's guide or any dog book for guidance and instruction; also, the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club have set forth standards for Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers to help determine whether a dog is described by any one of them.
Finally, the plaintiffs fail to show vagueness "beyond a reasonable doubt." In fact, the plaintiffs admit acquiring their pets believing them to be pit bulls, although they now aver they cannot identify the breed.
Plaintiffs contend that there is no such thing as a pit bull dog...
Veterinarians opine that ordinary citizens may be trained to identify the breed of a dog based on the dog's physical appearance. In fact, one resident of the County gave testimony that he was able to determine the breed of the dog he owned after comparing its physical conformation to that of other pit bulls he had seen in the media...
Presently, there exists no better method of identifying a pit bull dog than by its appearance. Even if a scientific method is developed to identify breeds of dogs, an enforcement scheme will still depend on initial visual identification...
If, after consulting the ordinance, an owner remains in a quandary as to whether the ordinance applied to him, the owner could seek guidance from a dictionary, a guidebook to dogs or from his or her veterinarian.
February 13, 1991
Ohio v. Anderson, 57 Ohio St. 3d 168 - Ohio: Supreme Court 1991
Consistent and detailed descriptions of the pit bull dog may be found in canine guidebooks, general reference books, state statutes and local ordinances, and state and federal case law dealing with pit bull legislation. By reference to these sources, a dog owner of ordinary intelligence can determine if he does in fact own a dog commonly known as a pit bull dog...
As the court noted in American Dog Owners Assn., supra, at 1541, "[i]f, after consulting the ordinance, an owner remains in a quandary as to whether the ordinance applied to him, the owner could seek guidance from a dictionary, a guidebook to dogs or from his or her veterinarian."
This court has previously held that the term "pit bull" is not unconstitutionally void for vagueness. In State v. Anderson, we stated: "In sum, we believe that the physical and behavioral traits of pit bulls together with the commonly available knowledge of dog breeds typically acquired by potential dog owners or otherwise possessed by veterinarians or breeders are sufficient to inform a dog owner as to whether he owns a dog commonly known as a pit bull dog."
February 19, 2008
Tellings v. Toledo, Supreme Court of the United States 2008
On February 19, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the pit bull lobby's appeal of Toledo v. Tellings, making the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision final. There is no further appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected all four constitutional arguments brought forth by the pit bull lobby, including: procedural due process, substantive due process, equal protection of the laws and void for vagueness (the pit bull identification issue). Read a deeper legal analysis of this decision.
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