News analysis by Beth Clifton
Holding signs mingling patriotic imagery with silhouettes of pit bulls, displaying ear-to-ear crocodilian grins for media, pit bull advocates on October 11, 2014 gathered near Bicentennial Park in Aurora, Colorado, to urge Aurora voters to repeal an alleged pit bull ban.
The “ban,” in effect since October 2005, actually just requires people who keep pit bulls to meet more stringent licensing standards than people who keep less dangerous breeds of dog.
Liability insurance & fencing
Most significantly, the Aurora “ban” requires keepers of pit bulls to carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance, a pittance when pit bull attacks frequently result in six-figure bills for emergency care and years of restorative surgery.
The Aurora “ban” also requires that pit bulls be confined within securely fenced and locked yards when allowed outdoors on the owner’s property, and to be muzzled and on a four-foot leash when off the owner’s property.
Had these provisions been enforced nationwide throughout 2014, at least a dozen people and many thousands of animals who have been killed by pit bulls running amok would have been spared the agony and terror of being ripped apart alive. At least 10 pit bull owners would not either be facing negligent homicide charges or have been recently convicted.
Children trusted pits & parents
The Aurora ordinance was passed five months after a pit bull mauled Xavier Benavidez, 11, in an unprovoked attack. The pit bull owner reportedly fled the scene. Ironically, Benevidez just two weeks earlier had helped the owner to retrieve the pit bull when the dog was running at large.
The value of the Aurora ordinance was underscored just a week after passage when Gregg Jones, 10, was mauled by three of his family’s own pit bulls. Two of the three dogs were not licensed in compliance with the ordinance.
The pit bull attacks on Benevidez and Jones are now reprised almost every day somewhere around the U.S.; unprovoked fatal pit bull attacks on other pets and livestock occur several dozen times per day.
The human victims, like Benevidez and Jones, are often the children who trust pit bulls most––and trust the adults in their lives when those adults tell them that their dogs are safe.
As the pit bull advocates gathered in Aurora, in Newark, Delaware a beautiful eight-year-old girl named Emily Ruckle was recovering from a surgery to repair her precious little body that was ripped apart by a family pit bull. She spent days in a medically induced coma while surgeons worked around the clock to save her life, and maybe save the arm that a pit bull living at her home nearly tore off on September 27, 2014.
Emily Ruckle’s parents remain in a state of shock and despair as they try to work through this tragedy. They are certainly not smiling. They are praying and begging that Emily will survive. Even in the best-case scenario, Emily Ruckle will endure many more surgeries and a decade or more of physical and emotional therapy to have even a hope of leading a normal life.
Aurora, Colorado: wake up! Do not allow the selfish desires of a loud, but small minority of pit bull fanatics to influence public safety decisions. Aurora regulated possession of pit bulls for a reason. That reason was to protect its citizens from people who choose to own a type of dog not only known to maim and kill people, pets and livestock, but bred for centuries for precisely those purposes.
The Aurora city council did serious research and deliberated for months before passing the 2005 ordinance. In Aurora, a city of 345,000 people, the councilors learned, about 700 people had possessed pit bulls in the preceding several years whose existence had become known to law enforcement. Among those pit bulls, just 140––at most 20%––had ever been licensed.
The Aurora ordinance was passed because there is a segment of society who are risk-takers, who fail to understand that their risky choices affect the lives of innocent people and other animals.
Sense of selfishness & entitlement
This sense of selfishness and entitlement on the part of pit bull owners is exactly what we are seeing now in Aurora. Pit bull enthusiasts have converged on Aurora to convince the public to allow them to engage in risky behavior.
Worse, these pit bull fanatics are aided and abetted by animal advocates who fail to understand that there is nothing “humane” about encouraging pit bull proliferation at cost to the security and safety of every person and animal large enough for a pit bull to notice, and that no philosophical interpretation of “animal rights” recognizes any right of one domesticated animal to imperil all others.
While arguing that Aurora should make “responsible” possession of pit bulls easier, pit bull advocates seek to erase an ordinance which seeks only to ensure responsible behavior. By protesting against the Aurora ordinance, the pro-pit bull demonstrators have actually demonstrated that “responsible” possession of a pit bull is a misnomer.
More than 300 dead
Managing a dog of this type requires recognizing the dogs’ genetic capabilities, a set of facts which most pit bull owners paradoxically both celebrate and deny. Though pit bulls have killed more than 300 Americans over the past 32 years and disfigured more than seven times as many, more than the other 95% of all dogs combined, pit bull advocates argue that their dogs can do no harm.
These are the most dangerous pit bull owners of all, because they do not truly understand the nature of the pit bull, including why the breed was developed in the first place, and partake in the myths and lies that a pit bull’s temperament is by nature no different from that of a golden retriever.
The Aurora pit bull advocates, and those supporting them around the U.S., overlook that nearby Denver is among the few major cities which have not had any pit bull fatalities in the past 25 years, and simultaneously has impounded and killed fewer pit bulls than any other city.
The reason is that Denver banned possession of pit bulls outright in 1989, and has kept the ban in place despite practically ceaseless repeal efforts.
Citizens of Aurora, don’t allow the pit bull lobby to overturn an effective ordinance, adopted in response to maimings by pit bulls that occurred in your own city, and have been prevented since enforcement of the ordinance began.
Respect human and animal rights by rejecting the demands of pit bull advocates that they should be allowed to indulge in risk-taking behavior by possessing––without restraint––a type of dog that exists only because it was bred to kill.
craven desires says
enumclaw washington voted to keep theirs as well.
Annie Brown says
I agree 100%. I have been following Pit Bull Attacks for 3 years and there have been hundreds of them. The owners always pipe in with “it’s not the dogs fault, it’s the owners fault.” Well Ok, what are they? [They are pit bull owners.]
It is a breed specific problem. The only way to make owners more responsible is to mandate laws on them, in other words BSL. Mention BSL to pit bull owners and they will go completely hypocritical, saying we are Nazis and we are discriminating against the breed. They want to have their pit bulls and be allowed to let them do whatever they want. Personally I don’t know what good blaming does. Putting fault on the dog? The owner? Who cares whose fault it is? The point is, this breed of dog is inflicting death and horrific injury on people and pets, and it needs to be addressed now, before more people and pets are injured and killed. It is a breed specific problem and needs to be addressed as such.
Jamaka Petzak says
The facts, and statistics, don’t lie; and personalizing the accounts of those whose lives have been taken, or damaged forever, by these living weapons hopefully helps those who are uneducated on the issue, or who are indecisive, to learn the truth. May Aurora follow in Denver’s footsteps, and may responsibility, caring, and logic prevail over political correctness everywhere. Not one more life should be lost or destroyed because of these WMD’s and their bullying proponents.
Per the city’s own data, euthanasia of pit bulls dropped by 93 percent since the law went into effect. Pit bull attacks are down 73 percent. Complaints about pit bulls have been cut in half.
It’s a similar story in Denver, where pit bulls have been regulated since 1989. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science found that Denver’s dog euthanasia rates fell by 77 percent after the city enacted its pit bull law. Instead of drowning in a flood of unwanted pit bulls, Denver shelters are able to save almost every homeless dog that comes through the door.
In cities where pit bulls aren’t regulated, they make up one to two thirds of all dogs in shelters. It’s estimated that more than one million of them are euthanized every year. But thanks to its pit bull law, Denver appears to be killing fewer pit bulls than any other major city.
Preferring to keep lawmakers and the public in the dark, pit bull lobbyists circulate an image of pit bulls that’s all sweetness and light. Amongst themselves, however, they frequently admit that these dogs are risky. Organizations including the ASPCA admit that aggression toward other animals is typical for pit bulls. Pit bull fanciers have praised the breed’s “gameness” for decades — gameness being a euphemism for “won’t let go no matter what.” The vast majority of deadly dog-on-dog attacks involve pit bulls.
Pit Bull Rescue Central and many other groups quietly recommend “break sticks” to all pit bull owners. A break stick is a tool designed to pry open a pit bull’s jaws in the event of an attack. No other dog requires special jaw-prying tools.
Pit bull organizations even promote a “crate and rotate” strategy to keep a pit bull from killing the other pets it lives with. “Crate and rotate” turns ordinary homes into supermax prisons where only one pet can be allowed out of its cage at a time.
Let’s break that down: Pit bull lobbyists are asking Aurora to remove proven effective regulations on pit bulls, while fully acknowledging that pit bulls are “typically” aggressive to other animals, require physical force and special tools to stop their attacks, and cannot even be trusted with their own housemates.
Are you kidding me?
Pit bull lobbyists are not animal advocates. They are members of an extraordinarily self-centered special interest group intent on deregulating pit bulls regardless of high costs to humans, nonhumans, and pit bulls themselves.
Tony Solesky says
And yet again another brilliant article. Does it have a positive effect on all of this? Without doubt it does, and it continues to turn the tide toward common sense.
Ever since my city repealed its ban, there have been several horrific maulings and at least a few deaths every year, and that’s not including animal deaths. Don’t make the mistake my city did- keep your ordinance