|Shadow NPC,- MDM|
Ban the Deed - Not the Breed
|Barked: Mon Nov 17, '08 7:01am PST |
|[BSL-UPDATES] Proposed ordinance targets 12 breeds (Monroe, WA)
Monroe may toughen rules for some dog breeds
By Debra Smith
MONROE, WASHINGTON -- Christine Baker doesn't like to walk her dog alone anymore.
She also doesn't push her baby daughter in the stroller to the nearby park. And when it's time to get in her car, she looks first and moves quickly.
Two months ago, her neighbor's two pit bulls escaped through their backyard fence and attacked her fleecy white lap dog Bailey while she walked him outside her Chain Lake home.
"I saw them coming out of the corner of my eye," Baker said. "One went one way and one the other way."
Baker tried to pick up her dog, but the pit bulls got there first. One grabbed Bailey near his neck, and the other sunk its teeth into the smaller dog's hindquarters and started to shake.
"I was screaming bloody murder," she said. "It felt like a nightmare. I ended up on the ground wrestling and punching and kicking them."
Bailey lived but required $400 in vet care. The attack left Baker scraped and shaken.
This isn't the first incident with the pit bulls. Neighbors who feel terrorized by the dogs contacted city officials and demanded action.
The result is a proposal that would label certain breeds of dogs, including pit bulls, as potentially dangerous.
Strike one, strike two
Monroe, like most area cities, uses a two-strike approach. Dogs earn the label of potentially dangerous once they bite or act aggressively. If a second incident happens, the dogs are registered as dangerous. That forces owners to keep stricter control of their dogs.
The proposal would eliminate that first warning for certain breeds, essentially giving them no second chances.
"It's taking one step out of the process for dogs that are known to be bred for fighting," said Debbie Willis, Monroe police spokeswoman.
The city isn't banning the breeds. If someone owns one of these breeds and the dog doesn't cause problems, owners would have to take no additional measures, she said.
Potentially dangerous dogs with no history of seriously injuring people or other pets could earn their way off the city's bad dog list if they and their owners complete a program teaching responsible dog ownership, such as the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Program.
The Monroe City Council plans to hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed rules at its 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting at Monroe City Hall.
The breeds on the proposed list are Akita, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, bull terrier, cane corso, dogo Argentino, dogue de Bordeaux, Kuvasz, pit bull terrier, presa Canario, Staffordshire bull terrier and Tosa inu.
Dogs with a mix of one or more of these breeds would also be regulated.
Just the suggestion of treating some breeds differently than others has raised the hackles of plenty of dog lovers.
Dozens of angry e-mails have been sent from as far away as Texas and New York to City Councilman Mitch Ruth, arguing it's not fair to label an entire breed as bad.
Ruth has raised and trained Rottweilers for competition.
"I recognize most of the dogs on the list are powerful dogs with dominant genetic characteristics," he said.
That itself isn't problematic, he said. The problems are with the owners, not the dogs, and he encourages strict penalties for irresponsible dog owners.
The dogs on Monroe's list are no more likely to be aggressive than most other breeds, said Marvin Versteeg, a professional dog trainer who lives in Monroe. Versteeg owns a pit bull named Cowboy, and the dog is sweet and well-behaved, he said.
A dog's behavior has more to do with how it's treated than its pedigree, he said. A properly trained and socialized dog is happy and will defend itself only when threatened.
Certain breeds have gotten a bad rap partly because people who wanted a "tough" dog gravitated toward these breeds and then encouraged aggressive behavior or neglected the dogs, Versteeg said.
He suggested the city back a program for dog ownership that educates people on how to choose a breed that fits their lifestyle.
Other municipalities are grappling with what to do with dangerous dogs.
Two pit bulls in King County viciously attacked a 72-year-old SeaTac woman in September.
The Metropolitan King County Council is taking a closer look at banning dog owners from continuous chaining of their animals. Dogs chained for long periods of time are more likely to attack people or other dogs, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The council directed County Executive Ron Sims on Monday to report by Feb. 28 on the practicality of an ordinance.
Everett is the only city in Snohomish County that targets specific breeds as potentially dangerous.
Pit bulls, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and mixes of these breeds are considered "potentially dangerous" and Everett requires these dogs to be registered, licensed and fitted with a microchip.
No one answered the door at the Chain Lake house of the pit bulls' owners when a reporter attempted to seek comment.
The Baker family and their neighbors would like to see something done before a more serious incident happens.
Over the past few months, one of the three dogs bit three people, including a toddler being pulled in a wagon by her grandfather.
The owner of the dog opted to have it euthanized, and the two remaining dogs have been classified as potentially dangerous, according to animal control officers. There are several "Beware of Dog" signs around the owner's fenced back yard, and scrap wood is nailed along the bottom of his fence.
Neighbors say that's not enough to help them be safe. A school bus stop is directly in front of the man's house and the dogs have been seen running in the neighborhood without leashes or muzzles.
Neighbor Dawna Golden said she has seen the dogs running loose several times and supports the proposal. She's worried for her family, which includes three teenagers.
"I think there are (types of) dogs that are more dangerous," she said.
Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hearing scheduled on one-strike rule
The Monroe City Council plans a public hearing on the proposed rules at its meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at Monroe City Hall, 806 W. Main St.
|my page | msg me | gift me | become pals|