Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Is The ASPCA Partnering With Breedist Miami-Dade Animal Control

Miami-Dade, Florida banned Pit Bulls in 1989 after one attack.

Supporters of Pit Bull bans generally believe implementing such laws will reduce dog bites. For some, banning certain breeds will simply eliminate bites from those breeds and, in their view, reduce significant dog bites.

The decade prior to Miami-Dade's Pit Bull ban, the region saw a significant decrease in dog bites from 6,000 to 2,600. A normal person would view this as positive, as the population of humans AND dogs increased. From 1989 to 2007, dog bites continued to decline from 2,600 to 992. These are the years of the Pit Bull ban, and they saw the slowest decline in dog bites.

The ban has not reduced significant dog bites, either. Miami-Dade citizens are more likely to end up in the hospital from a dog bite than many other cities in Florida. It has reduced Pit Bull bites, but they still happen. One would imagine in a county with a 20+ ban on Pit Bulls, there wouldn't be any Pit Bull bites or any Pit bull confiscations. Breed bans, though, are not rational and do not follow a logical path of ban and subsequent elimination of banned dogs.

A hearing officer in 2009 deemed the identification portion of the law unenforceable, which has not stopped animal control from enforcing the law. If you are caught or snitched on for having a dog who resembles a Pit Bull, you face a $500 fine with a 20 day appeal. Your dog must be removed from the county or face execution. Your dog need only have 3 of 15 "characteristics" to be deemed a Pit Bull.

In 2008, the county confiscated 802 Pit Bulls and executed 650 of them. In 2009, the county confiscated 700 and executed more than 550. With a canine kill rate of 60% Pit Bulls have a 78-81% chance of being killed.

So while Miami-Dade continues to enforce an unenforceable and arguably cruel law, while they continue to kill 80% of the Pit Bulls they take in, they were granted another $139,000 by the ASPCA since becoming Partners with the ASPCA in October of 2010.

The ASPCA's vision: "The vision of the ASPCA is that the United States is a humane community in which all some animals are treated with respect and kindness."

Maybe animal control does not like the law. Maybe they have publicly condemned the law and tried their best to legally refuse to enforce it. Anyone? *crickets*

Animal control officials have largely been silent on the ethics of enforcing a law that criminalizes otherwise law-abiding citizens and unnecessarily kills healthy, family companion dogs. While I appreciate the tough position animal control officers are in having to fulfill the requirements set forth by the legislature or commission, even if they disagree with it, I am left unimpressed when no one at animal control speaks up on behalf of the dogs or their guardians.

The ASPCA made a conscious decision to work with Miami-Dade animal control, even though they are opponents of breed specific legislation. Yes, only a small percentage of the dogs killed are Pit Bulls. Yes, any shelter with a 66% kill rate and an interest in changing should be encouraged to do so. But I am not certain that the ASPCA is doing the right thing by endorsing a shelter with an archaic policy that is discriminatory and that results in the needless death of thousands of dogs.


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