Thursday, 1 October 2015

Is BSL Ineffective, Expensive, and Difficult to Enforce?

Is BSL Ineffective, Expensive, and Difficult to Enforce?
Revised: December 4, 2014; 18:45 GMT

BSL is ineffective, expensive, and difficult to enforce.

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These claims are as common as air; they're made so often that few of us question if they're actually true.

But who is it that makes these claims? And are they true?

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Last month Mike Hendricks of the Kansas City Star published an article which claimed that
research . . . shows little correlation between fatal dog bites and the breeds of the dogs inflicting those wounds, . . .1
Mr Hendricks fails to cite the source of the research, but he may have been referring to any of the numerous "studies" authored and published by pit bull advocacy groups. Independent reports, which Mr Hendricks neglects to mention, leave little doubt of the correlation between pit bulls and fatal or disfiguring attacks.

Mr Hendricks' acceptance and publication of this misinformation follows a now common pattern. Advocates of fighting breeds have repeated these unsupported assertions so often that many journalists accept them without fact-checking.

The Toronto Star recently reported pit bull attacks have virtually disappeared in the decade since BSL was enacted.2  Similarly, Sioux City records show that police officers responded to 37% fewer dog attacks in 2013 than they did in 2007, the year that Sioux City enacted their breed ban. Similar results have been reported in Antigo, Pawtucket, and every other city where good BSL legislation is enacted and enforced.

It is pit bull advocates, not the cities who pay the bills, who claim that BSL is expensive. The advocacy claims are supported by data from the BSL Fiscal Impact Cost Calculator, an advocacy tool developed under a contract from Best Friends Animal Society.3 The tool purports to show that BSL is expensive, but it does not reflect the huge costs incurred by cities that choose breed-neutral laws, rather than BSL. Cities with breed-neutral laws are notoriously plagued by huge numbers of surplus pit bulls, many of them bred by back-yard breeders, which the city must pay to warehouse in animal shelters. BSL, on the other hand, reduces the number of pit bulls in shelters. BSL also reduces the number of euthanizations, which is also a cost for the city, as well as a humane tragedy.

In addition, the advocacy cost calculator fails to address the costs of dozens or hundreds of life-flight evacuations each year, which range in cost from $15k to $50k. The cost calculator does not account for the costs incurred by victims of pit bull attacks, many of whom are left with lasting physical and emotional scars, and overwhelming financial burdens. The cost calculator ignores entirely the costs borne by thousands of victims and their families.

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So, who is it that makes the claim that BSL is ineffective, expensive, and impossible to enforce? And who is it that calls for the revocation of BSL? Choose from among the following three options:
A: Victims of pit bull attacks
B: Municipalities that currently have successful BSL
C: Advocates for pit bulls and other fighting breeds
The answer is C, of course: it is the advocates who are the source of calls to revoke BSL.

The question we must ask ourselves is: Why would the advocates of fighting breeds be allowed to determine how we legislate fighting breeds?

Allowing the advocates of fighting breeds to write the rules regulating fighting breeds appears to make sense, until you think about it.