Aurora's breed-specific ban should be repealed - Vote YES on 2D!
Voters in Aurora, Colo., will have an opportunity in the upcoming election (ballots due Nov. 4, 2014) to determine whether to repeal a 9-year-old ban on pit bulls, as well as American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers, from their city.
Colorado Voters for Animals favors repealing the ban.
We cite the findings of the Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs, a group of Colorado animal care and control professionals, animal health experts and the general public that came together in 2006 to help cities establish more effective dangerous dog laws.
Here are the group's responses to frequently asked questions.
Q: I have seen data to suggest that pit bulls bite and kill more people than other breeds. My community has already banned pit bulls. Why isn’t this enough to solve our dangerous dog problem?
A: Breed bans are simplistic answers to a complicated problem. These bans are reactive and mask the underlying problem of irresponsible dog owners. They do not provide a comprehensive solution to prevent dog bites and attacks or effective means of dealing with dog attacks when they occur.
Because all dogs have the potential to become dangerous, breed bans only address part of the picture. While pit bulls can become aggressive due to poor socialization, failure to sterilize or targeted training for dog fights, all dog breeds can become aggressive under these conditions. As a result, breed bans fail to address all of the other dogs that could potentially harm members of the community.
Breed bans can also be confusing for communities to enforce, since it is not always clear what an individual dog’s breed is. Forcing animal control officers to find dogs that have been banned and euthanize all of the banned dogs that remain in the community can overtax an already burdened system of animal control. Another concern is tremendous psychological impact on those required to perform the euthanasia.
Moreover, breed bans miss the mark because they expect lawful and responsible behavior from a group of dog owners that is inherently irresponsible. If a dog does bite, he or she will probably not be wearing identification. People who encourage aggressive behavior in their dogs—failing to act when their dogs show signs of aggression or failing to care for the health and safety of their dogs—are not likely to comply with breed bans, licensing laws, or identification recommendations. To the contrary, some communities report an increase in the numbers of banned dogs being abandoned in the streets after bans have gone into effect. With purportedly dangerous dogs being turned loose to run free in the community, breed bans can have the effect of putting the public at greater risk.
Finally, breed bans cause harm to a substantial number of responsible dog owners and well-behaved dogs. When communities ban a specific breed, owners with dogs of that breed are forced to either euthanize their dog or relocate to another community. This is the case whether or not the dog is aggressive. In this way, breed bans discourage responsible owners and encourage irresponsible owners to hide their banned dogs or abandon their dogs to the streets.
Q: The cities and towns surrounding my community have already banned pit bulls. Isn’t a breed ban the only way for my community to protect itself from those dogs fleeing jurisdictions that have breed bans?
A: Another unfortunate consequence of breed bans is the “ripple effect” that occurs when one municipality bans a breed and a neighboring municipality does not. While communities can prevent this “ripple effect” by instituting their own ban, smaller towns and those in unincorporated areas will necessarily inherit the problems that other communities were seeking to avoid. Instead of perpetuating this cycle, municipalities can work together to create more comprehensive solutions by addressing dangerous dog issues at the community and regional levels.