I have friends that have Pitt bulls, and bully mixes, and Otis, my baby, is often referred to as a Pitt bull by people in the neighborhood even though it's very obvious that he is a boxer. I would hate to think someone would want to take my dog away from me... I hate to think someone would want to take my friend Patti's dog away from her....
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Louisville may add limits on pit bulls
Have you written a brief letter? I have. If you have not, please consider contacting the newspaper, legislators or, if you are local, attending the public hearing on the proposed legislation. Every little bit counts, and none of us should stand idly by as our beloved pets are attacked from all corners. We should do our best to help defend all maligned dogs in every part of the country. It's the least we can do.
Though they have not caused any problems in Louisville, KY, Rottweilers are also being added to the list of dogs who would be affected by the proposed legislation (which varies from muzzling, 500K insurance, to outright banning).
Council Meeting: The Louisville Metro Council will meet at 6 p.m. tomorrow in City Hall, Sixth and Jefferson streets. You have to register by 4pm today to attend: 574-3902. Up to 10 speakers can orate for 3 minutes prior to the onset of the meeting.
Cheri Bryant Hamilton firstname.lastname@example.org or 502.574.1105
List of other council members: http://www.louisvilleky.gov/Departm
Joseph Gerth (author of article): email@example.com
Letters to the editor: http://www.courier-journal.com/cjconnec
- Shorter letters are always appreciated (under 200 words)
- Point out that at least one of the dogs involved in the recent fatal attack is probably *not* a pit bull (according to the director of Animal services)
- Point out the ATTS statistics, unsoundess of BSL, cost, and maybe point to sound legislation that addresses behavior (New York's a good example)
With two deaths in two weeks from pit bull attacks in Louisville, two Metro Council members are sponsoring legislation that would make it more difficult to own pit bulls and Rottweilers.
"These are not pets," said Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, the proposed ordinance's primary sponsor, who plans to introduce it at tomorrow's council meeting. "They have to be treated like the dangerous animals they are."
The ordinance would define pit bulls and Rottweilers as "potentially dangerous dogs," require that their owners keep them restrained at all times, and require the owners to have $500,000 in liability insurance.
Under the law, the owners of such dogs would have to register them with the Louisville Metro Department of Animal Services and keep them leashed and muzzled any time they are outside the enclosure that would be required at the owner's home.
Dr. Gilles Meloche, director of Louisville Metro Animal Services, said the ordinance is a good place to begin discussions, but he recommended that it not be breed-specific and that it require the spaying or neutering of dangerous dogs.
Meloche said that other dogs can be even more dangerous in the hands of the wrong people, including the Presa Canario, a breed that gained notoriety in 2001 after two of them killed a San Francisco woman.
While fairly rare now, Meloche said, the Presa Canario is gaining popularity. Its ancestry is traced to bulldogs and mastiffs that English settlers took to the Canary Islands and crossed with native dogs; they were bred for fighting.
Hamilton, D-5th District, said she began work on the ordinance during the summer after people complained about dogs and a kennel in her district, and decided to file it after the Nov. 6 attack on Kylee Johnson, 1. Kylee died later that day.
Only hours after the proposed ordinance appeared on the city's Web site on Friday, 60-year-old Hulon T. Barbour was killed by two dogs as he walked home in the West End. The attack occurred in the district of Democratic Councilman Leonard Watkins, who is co-sponsoring the proposed ordinance.
As evidence that other dogs can be dangerous and should be included under a vicious-dog ordinance, Meloche said that one of the dogs that attacked Barbour doesn't appear to have as much pit bull lineage as first reported.
Meloche said that he has a meeting scheduled this week to try to figure out how to deal with dangerous dogs and that he hopes to work with council members to write "a benchmark ordinance."
The most important component of such a law would be requiring the spaying or neutering of dangerous dogs. "In the severe cases, most of the bites are caused by animals that aren't sterilized," he said.
Animal organizations, including the Louisville Kennel Club and a group that helps rescue pit bulls, say that the city should not single out certain breeds. They say all breeds can be dangerous if not trained properly.
"You need to hold owners accountable," said Marcy Setter, marketing director of the Internet-based Pit Bull Rescue Central. "If a dog attacks, jail time is fine with me."
But James Smiley, who lives next door to Kylee's family, said he thinks anything that makes it difficult to own a pit bull is a good idea.
"Those are just not pet dogs; they are too aggressive to have as a family pet," he said. "It's like trying to keep a rattlesnake as a pet."
Hamilton said the ordinance "still isn't strong enough," and she hopes a new draft will be ready today. That version would ban such dogs in homes where there are children under age 18.
Hamilton said she's also considering provisions that would prohibit felons from owning such dogs and another that would bar the dogs completely from Louisville.
Some council members have expressed interest in banning them altogether, as Denver has done, she said. "I didn't know if I could go that far, but now, I don't know."
In 2004, 4-year-old Emily Paige Stinnett was attacked by her family's pit bull in LaRue County, Ky. It tore off most of her scalp.
Last November, a pit bull that had previously attacked a child bit a Louisville animal-control officer. The dog then attacked a Courier-Journal reporter who stopped to help the officer.
Louisville Metro Animal Services handles about 50 dog bites a month, but fatal attacks are rare. Because of the threat of rabies, all dog bites are supposed to be reported to the Louisville Metro Health Department. That agency recorded 911 bites last year.
Rottweilers haven't been responsible for any of the high-profile dog-bite cases in Louisville in recent years, but Hamilton said she included them in the ordinance because they have caused problems elsewhere.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that pit bulls and Rottweilers were responsible for about half the 238 dog-bite fatalities in this country from 1979 to 1998.
But Roswitha Wick, a member of the Louisville Kennel Club's board, said she opposes "breed-specific" laws.
"You're immediately being punished for owning the dog, whether the dog is a little creampuff or not," she said.
Wick, who doesn't own Rottweilers or pit bulls, said the law should treat all dogs and dog owners the same.
"A dog owner should be responsible whether it is a pit bull or a poodle," she said. "A bite is a bite."
Bans on specific breeds are difficult to enforce and unfair as well, said Setter, who lives outside Detroit.
She compared such laws with those on drunken driving. "We don't ban alcohol, because we know the problem is the person using it," she said.
This is an excellent point and I wish more people saw it this way.
"She compared such laws with those on drunken driving. "We don't ban alcohol, because we know the problem is the person using it," she said"
I just thought people would like to know about this.