Monday, June 21, 2010

OUR VIEW: Doggone nuisance — It makes sense to adopt pit bull ordinance

From South Coast Today

A search of The Standard-Times news archives tells a visitor all he or she needs to know about whether or not it makes sense to treat pit bulls differently from other dogs.
In Wareham, a dog is killed and its owner is bitter when two pit bulls ambush them in the owner's yard.
In New Bedford, a police officer shoots and kills a pregnant pit pull after it attacks an animal control officer. In the same city, three pit bulls attack and kill a German shepherd and bite a girl at a city housing complex. In another instance, city police shoot an aggressive pit bull during a drug raid.
The list goes on and on.
Nobody knows just how many pit bulls — a broad description of several breeds and mixes— are among the more than 10,000 dogs that inhabit New Bedford, which has tried to deal with the pit bull problem several times.
In 2005, the City Council passed an ordinance prescribing special handling of dogs found to be dangerous, and the city received praise for writing legislation that did not target a specific breed but instead tried to make dog owners more responsible and accountable for their pets.
However, pit bulls are special because of their size and strength ... and because they have been bred with terriers, which are naturally hyper-aggressive.
The result is an animal that can be aggressive and is powerful enough to not only injure other dogs, but kill people. Many pit bulls are good pets, but there have been many stories about family pit bulls that launched deadly attacks against their owners and neighbors.
Enacting a special set of rules that would require pit bulls and dogs that display the characteristics of pit bulls to be confined or muzzled in public and which would require that pit bull owners alert landlords as to the presence of the animals in rental units makes sense.
Failure to follow the various rules set out in the ordinance would mean that pit bulls could be impounded by police or animal control officers and their owners fined for failing to comply.
The ordinance proposed by City Council member Debra Coelho is modeled on a Boston ordinance and is a natural companion to the dangerous dog rules already in place. The proposal is being studied.
Anyone who has walked the city's neighborhoods can tell you that New Bedford has a lot of pit bulls — and a lot of irresponsible dog owners.
Since efforts to ban the breed entirely have been frustrated by legal challenges, it makes sense to place special conditions on those who choose to keep dogs that represent a threat to other animals and people in the vicinity.
We urge the City Council to adopt the ordinance.

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