Two main dog attacks had prompted the
discussion of the breed specific legislation which lead to the official passage
of the law.
victim of a dog attack was three-year-old Fernando Salazar. According to
Dogsbite.org, the three-year-old child wandered into a neighbor’s yard and was
killed by the neighbor’s pit bull that was chained to a post. While this was
happening, the owner of the dog, Gil Trancosa was watching football on T.V. It
was his wife that came across the tragic incident.
May 8, 1989, 58-year-old Reverend Wilbur Billingsley was attacked by a pit bull
in an alley way by his home. A neighbor noticed the scene and tried ceasing the
attack by hitting the dog with a piece of wood that was two feet long and four
inches wide. When that did not work, he pulled out his hand gun and shot the
dog. Billingsley ended up going to the hospital with seventy dog bites and two
The pit bull ban was revoked in April of
2004, but was reinstated in 2005.
The pit bull scores in second place on the
American Temperament Test. According to the American Temperament Society’s
website, the tests places focus on various aspects of the dog’s temperament
dog’s instinct for protectiveness for their family for or for their self when
facing a threat
To take this test, dogs must be eighteen
months of age. The test itself takes 12 minutes to complete and the dog is on a
6-foot loose leash. The handler is not allowed to talk to the dog or give it
commands. The dog will fail the test if it shows signs of unprovoked
aggression, panic without recovery and avoidance.
The test is broken down into ten subtests
with six subcategories.
The first category measures the dog’s
reaction to strangers. The first subtest involves a person who has never met
nor seen the dog. This stranger walks up to the handler. The handler and the
stranger shake hands and engage in a conversation all while ignoring the dog.
The second subtest involves a friendly stranger. The friendly stranger walks up
to both the handler and the dog in a friendly manner. This stranger pets the
dog. This subtest is meant to evaluate hoe social the dog is.
The next category tests the dog’s reaction
to auditory stimuli. The third subtest measure’s the dog’s reaction to hidden
noise. In this part of the test the handler starts to approach an assistant who
then rattles a metal bucket with rocks in it. The assistant then places the bucket
with the rocks in the sight of the dog and handler. The handler can encourage
the dog to investigate the bucket. This subtest is meant to test the dog’s
curiosity. The next subtest measure’s how the dog recovers from hearing a
sudden noise. During the test, the handler and the dog walk to a designated
mark and turn their backs towards a hidden assistant. The assistant fires three
times with a .22 starter pistol.
The next category tests the dog on its
reaction to visual stimuli. The fifth subset tested this with the use of an
umbrella. The handler and the dog approaches an assistant in a chair holding a
closed umbrella that is parallel to the ground, at a ninety degree angle. When
the dog is placed at 5 feet from the assistant, the umbrella is opened. The
handler can tell the dog to investigate the umbrella, but their focus has to be
on the umbrella and not the dog.
Tactile stimuli was used to test the dog’s
reaction to unusual footing. In subtest 6, the handler and the dog walk on a
clear plastic strip that is measured at 15 feet long and 6 feet wide. On
subtest 7, the dog walks without the handler on an unfolded exercise pen that
is 12 feet long and 13 feet wide. These tests were to measure the dog’s
sensitivity to unusual footing, their ability to recover from the unusual
footing, and to measure their behavior to the unusual footing.
The last category of the temperament test
tested whether the dog was self-protective or aggressive. Subtest 8, measures
the dog’s behavior in a non-threatening environment. In this test, the handler
and the dog steps on a marker. A stranger who is dressed “unusually” crosses
their path at 38 feet in front of them. This test is meant to test the dog’s
alertness to an unusual situation. During subtest 9, the stranger then walks towards
the stranger in a threatening manner. The purpose of this test is to see if the
dog can recognize when a strange situation turns into provocation. Sub test 10,
tests the dog’s protective instincts. During this test, the stranger advances
at 18 feet in an aggressive manner.
913 pit bulls were tested. 798 dogs passed
the test and only 115 failed. This means that their ranking for temperament is
at 87.4% as compared to the Labrador Retriever, who scored in first place with
a ranking of
The Animal Farm Foundation had published
an article on the statistics of preventable factors in dog bite fatalities.
These controllable factors include: no one being able to intervene (87.1%), the
victim not having a relationship with the dog (85.2%), the dogs owner not
spaying or neutering the dog (84.4 %), the owners keeping the dog as a resident
instead of a family pet (76.2%), and the owner’s abuse and neglect of the dog
accounted for 21% of the uncontrobale factors. It is important to note that
breed was not a factor in this study.
There are people
who do think that the ban on pit bulls in Denver Colorado is a good thing and
that it has increased public safety. According to…pit bulls are dangerous dogs
and are overly abused by mankind. This group argues that the dog is only used
for violence. When the pit bull is not violent enough they are abandoned.
Arguments for why breed specific legislation is a positive thing include: while
placing dog bans punishes responsible pet owners, placing the ban stops violent
animal attacks from happening in a public place. The group also argues that the
pit bull is only bred to fight, and that is it.
are the effects of the problem?
The ban can have an effect on the dogs,
the owners and even public safety.
The ban can restrict dogs to outdoor
exercise. Forgoing on licensing, microchipping, proper veterinary care, and
spaying and neutering and receiving vaccinations can become difficult. When
dogs are not able to have access to these things, their mental and psychical
health of the dogs can be impacted. The breed ban can also create a climate
where people will not want to adopt pit bulls or live with them., which can be
problematic for adoptable dogs in shelters and humane societies. According to
the Animal Farm Foundation’s website, dogs who are not given the opportunity to
interact in a positive way with people will more likely view any situation as
stressful and behave in ways to protect themselves.
The ban on pit bulls can also effect the
owners. Responsible dog owners will be forced to comply with the breed ban and
regulations following which leads to housing issues, legal fees, and the
relinquishment of the animal.
This ban can also effect public safety as
well. According to the ASPCA website, when animal control’s focus is used to
regulate a ban, they cannot focus on effective enforcement of laws that can
make communities safer, such as: dog license laws, leash laws, anti-dog
fighting laws, anti-tethering laws, and spaying and neutering laws. People who
own pit bulls or any other breeds that are deemed dangerous and banned can be
deterred from seeking care from the veterinarian which can increase outbreaks
of rabies and any other diseases that can endanger communities.
Another effect of the ban is the cost of
it. A lot of money is being put into implementing and carrying out the ban.
According to Best Friends.org (explain what that website entails), the possible
costs of Breed Specific Legislation go into:
control seizing the dog
and the disposing of the dog’s body
fees include litigation to verifiy the actual breed of the dog that has been
taken away by using DNA testing.
bans also produce conflict with a disabled person’s right to own a pit bull
legal experts even argue that breed discriminatory laws violates the 14th
amendment, which guarantees that citizens have the right to own the dog and
results in a lengthy battle with the courts.
Here is the Best Friend’s Animal Society’s
formula estimate for the ban on pit bulls in Denver Colorado (Best Friends