by Nick Mays, Chief Reporter
CAMPAIGNERS FIGHTING Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in the United States are finding themselves battling on several fronts as city after city and state after state seem hell-bent on enacting BSL to a perceived problem of ‘dangerous dogs’, specifically so-called ‘pit bulls’, which include Staffordshire Bull Terriers. As if this wasn’t enough, officials from the leading anti-BSL campaign group have been receiving death threats via e-mail against themselves and their dogs.
The American Canine Foundation is fighting several BSL court cases, including a renewed legal challenge against the city of Denver, Ohio, against their illegal breed ban. Under Ohio State law, BSL is outlawed, although Denver has retained breed-specific laws since 1989, when ‘pit bulls’ were banned from city limits. ACT claim that Denver’s ban was enacted on spurious scientific evidence and successfully appealed to the State to overturn the ban in 2004. Earlier this year, the city of Denver successfully appealed against the decision and re-instated BSL, which resulted in Denver dog wardens seizing dozens of harmless family pets that meet the pit bull ’type’ profile.
Last week in Denver, ACF began what will be a series of meetings with Denver City Council members. The ACF's officials, Marci Grebing and Summer Wilson, along with Denver resident David Lasher, presented data to a Denver City Council member who agreed to meet with ACF because he does not agree with the breed ban. Several other council members also have the same feelings and have expressed a wish to meet with ACF.
David Lasher presented a petition with approximately 3,500 signatures from Denver residents at the meeting all opposing Denver’s breed ban. Grebing, Wilson and Lasher spent an hour discussing BSL and answering questions.
Meanwhile, in the Colorado Court of Appeals, Denver once again asked for an extension of time in the case of (ACF) Grebing v Colorado v Denver. On April 7th 2005 Denver held a frivolous trial using Dr Peter Brochelt who ACF successfully disqualified as an expert witness in the original Ohio hearing. The judge immediately ruled, after only a couple hours of trial, that Denver had a right to home rule and could enforce their breed ban that ACF stopped after 16 years by passing HB1279 last year which prohibits BSL in Colorado.
ACF’s Co-ordinator Glen Bui said: "We do not believe the trial court case holds precedence. ACF is appealing the recent trial decision over Denver’s breed ban, both ACF and Marci Grebing filed for intervention in the Denver v Colorado lawsuit over the new Colorado state law prohibiting BSL.
Denver District Court denied ACF and Ms Grebing's intervention so we appealed to the High Court asking for a new trial where experts could give testimony concerning American Pit Bull Terriers and scientific evidence that no breed of dog is inherently vicious or dangerous. Denver lost a recent motion to have our appeal dismissed."
Meanwhile, the city’s breed ban remains in place and ACF state that the dog wardens are seizing around 380 pit bull ‘type’ dogs since the breed ban was reinstated in May and they are being destroyed at the rate of 3 a day.
Some city officials seem proud to play the ‘redneck card’ and are happy to admit that Denver's ban applies to any dog that looks like a pit bull. The animal's actual behaviour does not matter.
City Councilman Charlie Brown said that in his judgment, "pit bulls are trained to attack. They're bred to do that."
The American Temperament Testing Society evaluated 122 breeds and found that the American Staffordshire Terrier, a type of banned ‘pit bull’ in Denver, passed 83.3 percent of the time, just behind the Golden Retriever (83.6 percent).
ACF has been interviewed in 432 articles pertaining to BSL since 2001. All press coverage from ACF has been positive and ACF has a great network of Representatives working with the media to provide them with accurate data in an attempt to stop the media hype about the Pit Bull that is causing a lot of damage.
OTHER LEGISLATION UPDATES
Glen Bui told OUR DOGS: "ACF received several e-mails calling for the death to all Pit Bull Terriers and their owners. A large number of threats have been directed at ACF since the recent SB861 legislation in California and we now know the animal rights organization behind it. Everyone threatening us all belong to and support a specific animal rights organisation. We are taking legal advice in this matter."
The California legislation was started because of a fatal attack to a 12-year-old boy in San Francisco whose mother locked the boy in the basement because the dog tried to attack him earlier in the day.
Bui added: "San Francisco's mayor over reacted by introducing the Bill. It has since been disclosed that the boy did not die from the dog attack. However the Senator will not pull her ludicrous legislation. She’s been led to believe that spay and neuter stops dog aggression. As predicted there was a rash’ of ‘pit bull attacks’ reported as soon as the Senator amended SB861 – very few of which stand up to close investigation."
ACF stopped an attempt to enact BSL in the city of Renton for the time being and is getting ready for a constitutional challenge in Washington that was filed several months ago.
ACF is currently in the State Court of Appeals involving a Pit Bull Terrier and has been notified that the District Attorney’s office involved is considering dropping the case. The dog has been in custody for almost a year.