A Letter from APBR president

Discuss Breed Specific Legislation and local county laws on pit bull ownership.
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aznchipmunk
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A Letter from APBR president

Postby aznchipmunk » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:32 am

Below is a response written by APBR President, Jessie Zepeda, in response to her cousin, who informed her that he intended to start an anti-pit bull campaign with the goal in implementing Breed Specific Legislation in his city. She wanted to share this to remind everyone that those who aren't involved in rescue or animal welfare on a daily basis often do not have the same insight into this issue that we do. (Active links can be found on our website: http://ambassadorpitbulls.weebly.com/breed-specific-legislation.html

There is a lot that we both agree on and ultimately, our goals are the same - we want our communities to be safer and the people that allow these tragedies to happen to be held accountable However, myself, my nonprofit, and other police and animal control organizations that we work closely with every day go straight the source of the issue and recognize that a broad based legislation and breed bans are counterproductive.

No one defends animal attacks or bites. We all believe that bite victims should have the same legal recourse and protection under the law, regardless of what breed is responsible for the attack or bite - which is why we oppose BSL. Meaning - all dog owners should be responsible and held liable for the behavior of their animals. However, we recognize that until people are educated about responsible ownership, humane and anti-dogfighting laws are strengthened, and the police have the power to enforce such laws - nothing will change, regardless of how many breeds are banned. The dog of choice for nefarious people will just change again as we've seen in the past (In the '70s it was Dobermans, in the '80s it was German shepherds, in the '90s it was Rottweilers. Now it's shifted to Pit Bulls).

So, I'd like to explain what exactly it is that my nonprofit does, and how we approach the issues, in hopes you'll take my views into consideration and understand the far reaching impacts of a breed ban and anti-"pit bull" campaign. I think if we can see how much we agree on and work at fighting the problem at the source, we can do MUCH more good together than we would with conflicting campaigns, that ultimately have the same goal in mind.

Why it's impossible to ban "pit bulls"

The first problem with banning "pit bulls" as a breed is that the term "Pit Bull" does not refer to a specific breed. It is just a subjective description - It is a generic term most commonly used to refer to a group of dogs that originate from combining bulldogs with terriers:

- The American Pit Bull Terrier - recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC)
- The American Staffordshire Terrier - recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)
- The Staffordshire Bull Terrier - recognized by both the UKC and the AKC

It's basically a slang term which has come to identify any short, muscular, big headed, short haired dog with cropped, rose, or semi-prick ears. Other breeds and mixes commonly but incorrectly identified as "Pit Bulls" include Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, Boxers, Mastiff breeds, and other mixed breed dogs.

Not only does BSL separate families, flood shelters, make excuses for irresponsible owners, and perpetuate a stereotype - it only makes pit bull type dogs that much more appealing to people who get them to try to "look tough". We pull a lot of the dogs in our program from PG County Animal Shelter (where pit bulls are illegal and can't be adopted out) and what we and the shelter staff have seen is simply a shift to other large breeds and mixes - Mastiffs (Neopolitain Mastiffs, Bull Mastiff), Dogo Argentinos, American Bulldogs, Cane Corsos, Shar-Peis and Presa Canarios. So, the question is - where do you stop banning? Do we ban all large breed dogs? All hunting and sport dogs? The other problem with this is that these large, powerful dogs or any mix resembling such are often labeled "pit bull type" dogs. The average person also can't tell these breeds apart - even when they're purebred. So, you can see how many dogs get caught up in BSL identification. These aren't just shelter dogs-- they're dogs that are owned by responsible, everyday families

Breed Specific Legislation - Why it is ineffective

I could tell you all day why I chose to work with pit bull type dogs, so I will focus instead on explaining why I vehemently oppose Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). I could literally write a novel on this subject, particularly with my experience with this issue in PG County and Maryland, so I'll just provide links to information I hope you'll take a look at and would be happy to discuss any statistics or provide more specific information about pit bull type dogs at a later time. The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), does a good job summing up many of the reasons I believe BSL is not an effective approach to dog bites and dog bite related fatalities: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/do ... ation.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In 2003, PG County, Maryland also performed one of the most detailed studies to date on Breed Specific Legislation. They recommended repealing their own ban, citing it as expensive, ineffective, and impossible to enforce. (I have the full text, but easier to read broken out, here: http://www.understand-a-bull.com/BSL/Re ... CMTOC1.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

Who Supports Breed Bans?

DogsBite.org is not a valid source - while maybe long ago she may have started with good intentions of advocating for bite victims, her website now simply perpetuates media hype, spreads misinformation, and isn't supported by facts or scientific evidence.

Who Opposes Breed Bans?

Below are a few links to studies, including research by well respected organizations and case studies on municipalities that have enacted BSL and the outcomes:

American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/public/Health/Docu ... ogbite.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Animal Farm Foundation: http://animalfarmfoundation.org/pages/B ... egislation" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Dog Bite Related Fatalities 2012/2011/2010/2009 Reports:
http://www.nationalcanineresearchcounci ... atalities/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

DOG BITES: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS Dog Bites Policy Paper:
http://www.animalsandsociety.org/pages/ ... -solutions" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Pit Bull Placebo - Media, Myths, and Politics of Canine Aggression: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.co ... lacebo.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

AKC Press Release Following "Rufus" Best in Show Win:
http://classic.akc.org/pdfs/press_cente ... us_BSL.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Every well-respected national organization that is involved in canine/human interactions is opposed to laws targeting specific breeds of dogs. A partial list of these organizations (with links to their position statements) include:

American Bar Association (ABA)

American Dog Owners Association

American Humane

American Kennel Club (AKC)

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Best Friends Animal Society

Center for Disease Control

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

International Association of Canine Professionals

National Animal Control Association

National Animal Interest Alliance

National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors

National Canine Research Council

United Kennel Club

The list goes on.....

Here are a few more articles you might want to read (many hosted by NCRC):

Breed-Specific Legislation FAQ
Breed-Specific Legislation Fiscal Impact Calculator
Dog Breed Specific Regulation by Jane R. Berkey
AVMA-CDC Statements on Breed-Specific Legislation
New Study Explains Why BSL Does Not Reduce Dog Bites
Banned Breeds Are No More Aggressive Than Others, New Study Finds
Denver: Selective Counting and the Cost to Dogs and People
Miami-Dade County: No Positive Results
Miami-Dade "pit bull" ban remains, despite overwhelming evidence of failure and county officials' view
Sioux City Breed Ban Misses the Mark
World-Wide Failure of Breed-Specific Legislation
How Data Can Spare Dogs and Reduce Dog Bites by Dr. Karen Overall, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Psychiatry Department – Penn Med
Speak! or Rollover! The Choice Dog Owners Need to Make, by Karen Delise, American Dog Magazine (2009).
Aggression and Dogs: No significant difference found between breeds
"Pit bull" regulation not a basis for Dog Bite Prevention, AVMA experts report
Maryland's Experience: the Public Record & the Tracey v Solesky Ruling
Winnipeg, Manitoba far behind Calgary in community safety
American Bar Association (ABA) Urges Repeal of All Breed-Specific Laws

So What Works?

Responsible pet ownership and clear, enforceable laws --- which is what myself, my nonprofit, and our partners aim to do.

The basic building blocks of a responsible pet ownership community should include:

1. License and provide permanent identification for pets.
2. Mandatory spay or neuter pets.
3. Provide training, socialization, proper diet and medical care for pets.
4. Do not allow pets to become a threat or nuisance in the community.
5. Procure pets ethically and from a credible source.

Calgary, Alberta has had great success as a model responsible pet ownership community.
Interview on why they adopted this policy and results: http://vimeo.com/26979893" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Humane education is critical and often overlooked as well. When people are raised a certain way -taken to dogfights as kids or their parents mistreated their animals - it perpetuates irresponsibility and a lack of empathy for people and animals. Sometimes they really don't understand that what they're doing is wrong. People that abuse animals are 5 times more likely to commit violent crimes against people - Dogfighting isn't a dog problem, it's a community problem. It brings drugs, gambling, weapons and sex crimes into our communities.

Adopt. Educate. Facilitate. Enforce.

The reason I am so upset is because this isn't a cause that I picked randomly on a whim - I started shadowing a veterinarian in middle school, have worked in the veterinary field full-time since I was old enough to work at 15 (up until my back surgery), I was the Head Surgical Technician at worked in the veterinary field for 10 years, have volunteered for nonprofits specializing in pit bull type dogs for five years, and have managed my own nonprofit since October 2011. As you know, I've also fostered shelter dogs and worked to responsibly rehome them since 2003 - many of which have gone on to get their CGC and Therapy Dog Certifications.

On a daily basis I work closely with members of the community, local legislators, police departments, and shelters (PG County, Fairfax County, Montgomery County, Prince William County, Baltimore City, Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, and Loudoun County) performing behavioral evaluations, providing input at roundtable discussions, and helping them develop best practices - So I not only have extensive experience with this issue, but behavioral testing, humane education, community outreach/support, and I have seen first-hand the repercussions on families and communities that breed bans have and how ineffective they are at combating the problem.

On a more personal level, below is my dog, Bermuda. She is 11 years old next month, I've had her since she was 1 year old and under a breed ban I would be forced to relinquish her and she would be destroyed by the county. So, this is a very important issue to me on a number of levels. There is a HUGE problem which reaches far beyond the few articles you googled- and it's not a breed of dog (or dogs that share physical characteristics) that are to blame. A ban does not reach the source of the problem, because it doesn't identify the problem.

I have dedicated my entire adult life to working with animals and have a particular interest in this issue, and would consider myself an expert on the subject - so hopefully the information I provided is useful and we can find a way to work together towards safer communities instead of at odds.

Jessie

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creiter
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Re: A Letter from APBR president

Postby creiter » Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:19 pm

This. Is. Beautiful!

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aznchipmunk
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Re: A Letter from APBR president

Postby aznchipmunk » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:26 pm

She kept us all afloat on her arguement with her cousin and this wa sher last reply. And I totally thought I should share


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