Monday, 9 February 2015

Appellate court decisions on BSL and Pit bull type dog danger

For additional accurate information on the public safety Danger of Pit Bull Type Dogs visit:
State of Ohio v. Robinson (1989)
Court of Appeals of Ohio, Clermont County

The alarming rise in fatalities and severe maulings of people by pit bull dogs has caused several municipalities and states to consider or adopt legislation limiting or prohibiting the sale or possession of pit bulls ...

The physical characteristics of pit bulls, the historic use of the dogs as fighters, and the increasing number of unprovoked and unexplained attacks on people has caused the pit bull to be perceived as presenting a threat of danger, warranting a legislative response. Id. at 1075-1076.

There can be no doubt that dogs in general are legitimate objects of the state's police power. Almost a century ago, the United States Supreme Court held that dogs are "subject to the police power of the State, and might be destroyed or otherwise dealt with, as in the judgment of the legislature is necessary for the protection of its citizens."
Garcia v. Village of Tijeras (1988)
Court of Appeals of New Mexico

As a complement to the testimony regarding specific incidents, the Village also presented evidence establishing that the American Pit Bull Terrier breed possesses inherent characteristics of aggression, strength, viciousness and unpredictability not found in any other breeds of dog.

The testimony indicates that American Pit Bull Terriers are frequently selected by dog-fighters specifically because of their extraordinary fighting temperament. In a fight or attack, they are very aggressive and the most tenacious dog of any breed.

They continue their attack until they are separated or their victim is destroyed. Unlike other breeds of dog that "bite and slash" in an attack, pit bulls will "bite and hold," thereby inflicting significantly more damage upon their victim.

Testimony was also presented that pit bulls are especially dangerous due to their unpredictability. It is impossible to tell from looking at a pit bull whether it is aggressive or not. American Pit Bull Terriers have been known to be friendly and docile at one moment, willing to sit on your lap and lick your face, and at the next moment to attack in a frenzied rage.

A pit bull in the grip of such a fighting frenzy will not respond to attempts to deter its attack. Such frenzies can occur at any time and for no apparent reason. There was testimony to the effect that such berserk frenzies do not occur in other breeds of dog.

This behavior has been substantiated by a number of reports from owners of American Pit Bull Terriers. There was further evidence to show that, in proportion to their population, more dog-bite incidents are caused by American Pit Bull Terriers than by other breeds.

Other evidence tended to establish that the American Pit Bull Terrier is an exceptionally strong and athletic dog.

Extraordinary measures are required for confining American Pit Bull Terriers, such as a six-foot chainlink fence with an overhanging ledge to keep the dogs from jumping out, and six-inch wide, one-foot deep concrete footings around the base to keep the dogs from digging under.

They have exceptionally strong bites, possibly twice the strength of bites of other dogs. They can grip cyclone fencing and tear it from its mounting, and have been known to destroy sheet metal panels by ripping them apart with their teeth.
State v. Peters (1988)
District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District

The federal district court in Starkey v. Township of Chester, 628 F. Supp. at 197, found that "[t]he Township could reasonably determine, as it did, that Pit Bulls are dangerous."

See also Garcia v. Village of Tijeras, No. 9424 (N.M.Ct. App. Oct. 11, 1988) (ordinance banning pit bulls is reasonably related to protection of residents).
Likewise, in the present case, there is ample evidence to support the City's conclusion that pit bulls should be controlled. The ordinance itself states:

"WHEREAS, dogs commonly referred to as 'Pit Bulls' were for centuries developed and selectively bred for the express purpose of attacking other dogs or other animals such as bulls, bears, or wild hogs; and

"WHEREAS, in developing a dog for this purpose, certain traits were selected and maximized by controlled breeding, including extremely powerful jaws, a high sensitivity to pain, extreme aggressiveness towards other animals, and a natural tendency to refuse to terminate an attack once it has begun; and

"WHEREAS, in addition to statistical evidence that Pit Bull Dogs have a greater propensity to bite humans than all other breeds, there exists overwhelming evidence in the form of individual experiences, that the Pit Bull is infinitely more dangerous once it does attack; and

"WHEREAS, the Pit Bull's massive canine jaws can crush a victim with up to two thousand (2,000) pounds of pressure per square inch -- three times that of a German Shepherd or Doberman Pinscher, making the Pit Bull's jaws the strongest of any animal, per pound; and

"WHEREAS, after consideration of the facts, this Council has determined that the following Ordinance is reasonable and necessary for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare."

The findings recited in the ordinance are unchallenged. While pit bulls have their defenders, see Hearne, Lo, Hear the Gentle Pit Bull!, Harper's, June 1985, at 59, the City's choice to regulate pit bulls cannot be said to have been arbitrary or irrational.
Starkey v. Township of Chester (1986)
United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

The Ordinance defines the breed of dog by American Kennel terminology and seeks to reach dogs "bred for fighting." The key finding in the Ordinance is:

"Pit Bulls are considered dangerous dogs and potentially hazardous to the community..."
The Township could reasonably determine, as it did, that Pit Bulls are dangerous. The Township's Health Officer testified that the regulation was necessary in this densely populated Township; the Pit Bull bites to kill without signal.

The Township does not have to regulate every dangerous animal at the same time in the same way to pass constitutional muster. The Township has not gone too far, insofar as the present record shows in regulating, licensing and charging fees for Pit Bulls.