Friday, October 22, 2010

Camanche Officials - Some Alternatives For You

Camanche is looking at discriminatory dangerous dog legislation that targets people who own dogs resembling Pit Bulls.
"He said that while Camanche does have a good ordinance for dealing with dangerous dogs, it is reactive instead of pro-active" - City Administrator Tom Roth
I understand this feeling. We all want to prevent dog bites. I do not think anyone on either side of the "dangerous dog" issue feels differently. When we think of ways to prevent dog bites, I agree - we should be proactive. While dog bite fatalities are exceedingly rare events, we care for about 75 million dogs in this country. We interact with dogs on a daily basis.

My proactive suggestions would be the following, rather than punitive, discriminatory legislation:
    • Mandatory classes in school every year on the proper interaction with a dog. One study showed that even one 30-minute course on proper dog interaction can significantly increase awareness of appropriate dog-human interaction.
    • Free or affordable workshops on dog behavior offered by the local animal shelter, dog trainers or veterinary behaviorists.  
    • Take the approach of Calgary and Kern County and see your licensing and bite rates decline.
    • Offer or increase free/low-cost spay/neuter clinics and rabies vaccine clinics and offer free demo training classes. Make training a dog cool.
    • Educate through ad campaigns, brochures, in school, at veterinary clinics, in supermarkets that tethering a dog increases frustration and aggression, encourage other methods of housing and exercising animals.

If you feel you have a good ordinance that deals with dangerous dogs, don't rewrite the book.
Roth said one of the previous challenges to pit bull ordinances was proving a dog was a pit bull. He said now there is a genetic test that for $75 or $80 a veterinarian can take DNA and prove it is a pit bull.
Canine DNA testing is not reliable. It should not be used to determine whether a dog is a Pit Bull or not (WisdomPanel, which sells DNA tests, agrees). First, there is no DNA test that can identify American Pit Bull Terriers. Second, the testing is notoriously inaccurate. Third, the data is only as good as the genetic markers available, of which not all dog breeds are a) accurately represented or b) fairly represented.
the evidence will show that pit bulls are different. They’re different in their nature. They’re different in their strength. They’re different in the manner in which they approach an attack. They’re just a different breed,”
There is no scientific, fact-based analysis that has proven or even suggested with its results that Pit Bulls are different in their nature or their strength or the manner in which they approach an attack. None. Even if you look at media reports, there are significant variations in all dog attacks involving the same types or breeds of dogs.
Here we have dogs, all purported to be Labrador Retrievers, causing different amounts of damage, attacking different people of varying ages and sizes and biting on different body parts with differing type of strength. What does that tell us, except that different dogs react to the same situations in uniquely different ways with some exhibiting significant bite restraint and others showing none.

I could do this for all dog attacks reported in the news - you would find nothing consistent in how one breed or type of dog attacks versus another. Some engage in prolonged maulings, some don't. Some nip and move on, some don't. Some go for the throat or face, some don't.

Camanche does not have a Pit Bull problem. It apparently does not have a dog bite problem. When there is no problem to speak of, why not keep it that way with some pro-active, engaging educational and outreach opportunities rather than punitive acts of citizen-criminalization? Just a thought.

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