Friday, May 14, 2010

Clarksdale, MS Amends Pit Bull Ordinance

And adds Rottweilers!

They were planning on adding German Shepherds until the chief of police, whose dogs specialize in attacking people, claimed that German Shepherds don't really attack people. Catch-22!

Only one commissioner voted no on adding Rottweilers - Commissioner Buster Moton. Good job, Mr. Moton! Too bad the only voice of rational reason was ignored. Although I am confused by the fact that Moton made the motion to add Rottweilers and German Shepherds, then voted no...

The ordinance was introduced because, according to Clarksdale Police Chief Hoskins, Pit Bulls "are getting to be a problem."


Oh, well, there were two attacks! One was an actual attack, although the extent of the injuries are not reported. The other "attack" was one of those magical ones in which no one got bit.

The commissioner asked the "experts" - an insurance agent. He said that his insurance agency asks about dog breeds and if Rottweiler or Pit Bull is mentioned, then they discriminate against those people and don't insure them. He neglects to mention that several insurance companies that his agency offers for possible insurance also refuses to insure those with: German Shepherds, Akitas, Huskies, Chow Chows, Dobermans, Wolf hybrids and Malamutes. I suppose Clarksdale better stop a possible epidemic of attacks by including those dog breeds too.

The ordinance isn't an outright ban, but the intent is the same - make it as difficult as possible for people to choose dogs who fit their lifestyle best. There are registration requirements, "caging" requirements, stricter penalties if some loose dog mauls your leashed Pit Bull and your Pit Bull retaliates, and liability insurance requirements ... which is virtually impossible when it is difficult to find an insurance agency to cover your dogs.

Improving public safety is a great concept, but it's only really valuable when there is a public safety problem. There isn't evidence being presented that Pit Bulls pose a significantly higher risk of irrational behavior than any other dog. There isn't evidence that there is even a dog bite problem. We know what works: educating both children and adults, achieving high license compliance rates w/ education/incentive (and offering educational opportunities during the licensing process) and making sure the agencies responsible for enforcing current laws can do so easily and effectively. Trying to mitigate dog attacks by criminalizing certain dogs has not yet proven to be an effective method.

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