OPINION: Kinnon Advocates For Muzzle Law
"If there were as many pit bulls in Malden as people, and bite incidents were classified as aggravated assaults, the average rate of aggravated assault by pit-bulls in the last three years would have been over 1,500 per year."
The following was submitted by councilor Neil Kinnon:
Dear Editor Malden Patch and Malden’s Citizens:
This past week the City Council passed a Pit-bull Ordinance which will take effect on May 1, 2012 (provided the Mayor signs it).
It will exempt current pit-bulls which are licensed by that time with some reasonable stipulations. Hopefully this letter might clarify what is in the Pit-bull Ordinance, the reasons for it and why some of the information opponents are spinning is simply misinformation or untrue.
1. There are currently 1,150 dogs licensed in the city of Malden including approximately 77 pit-bulls or 6.7% of the registered dogs. It is estimated that there are 3 times as many actual total dogs living in Malden. The city has no ability to economically fund 100% enforcement of licensing for this many actual dogs.
2. According to Animal Control fifty-seven dog bites were recorded from 2009-2011. Eighteen of the bites were committed by pit bulls. The next closest breeds, that bit, were German Shepherds, Bull Mastiffs and Dobermans which recorded only two bites each. The data broken down in its simplest terms means pit-bulls account for approximately 6.7% of our registered dogs and committed 31.6% of the dog bites.
3. Of the pit-bulls that were involved in incidents all were put down or removed from the city of Malden either by order or voluntarily before the order came. The reason is simple; the severity of the bites by pitbulls warranted euthanasia or removal.
This did not hold true with most of the other dog bites in Malden and is typical of National Averages where 60% of the attacks on humans that are fatal or disfiguring are committed by pitbulls and their close mixes. This when they make up only 5% of the dog population. (Animal People 12.26.2011)
4. The ordinance requires pit-bulls to be spayed or neutered in order to get an exemption from the muzzling law. The advocates who spoke to the Council also advocate spaying and neutering of pit-bulls as part of any plan.
5. The ordinance the Council passed requires a fence if one wishes to let their dog out in the yard without a muzzle. PittBullLovers.com states for those looking to own a pit-bull “you should have a six foot privacy fence, beware of dog signs, hot wiring at the top and bottom of the fence, out of door housing that keeps them out of the sun (even if they live indoors) …” Given the severity of pit-bull attacks the requirement seems reasonable.
6. The ordinance passed by the City Council will guarantee high license compliance for pit-bulls, which all advocates say is needed, as it exempts, from the muzzle ordinance, all current pit-bull owners who reside in Malden as long as they come in to register for a license and provide the proper spay and neutering documentation.
If one lives in an apartment a letter from the landlord providing their approval that the dog is on their property is also required. The reason for the latter is for insurance purposes. This ordinance will incent current owners to license and cost the taxpayer nothing.
7. The pit-bull advocates continue to claim that BSL (breed specific legislation) does not work and yet over 600 communities in America have adopted it. The Marine Corps and the Army have gone so far as to adopt total bans of pit-bulls and their close relatives on all their bases in the last few years. If there are fewer pit-bulls there will be fewer bites even the Doctor from Tufts advocating on behalf of the pit-bulls conceded on this.
8. The new ordinance defines the breed as “shall mean any pit bull, Amercian Staffordshire, Staffordshire Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier or mix of the aforementioned breeds.“ The Doctor promoting non BSL from Tufts, a Cambridge resident, who testified before the City Council stated the claim that you could not identify pit bulls based upon her study. She stated that her study testing DNA showed that these dogs were not pure bread Staffordshire Terriers and some did not have Staffordshire Terrier at all.
When the Doctor was asked how many dogs were in her study and how many had some American Staffordshire, her answer was her study included ten dogs and she didn’t know how many included some American Staffordshire. Her evidence lacked credibility, as no scientist would ever claim a sample size of ten was a real study and after stating that DNA didn’t contain Staffordshire in many instances, she didn’t know how many contained some Staffordshire in the sample.
9. The pit-bull advocates continue to state it will be impossible to enforce a muzzle law and that we should instead focus on licensing and strong leash law enforcement of all dogs. One can only conclude from all actual evidence that it would be just as easy for an animal control officer or other law enforcement officer to enforce a muzzle law as it is to enforce a leash law.
Is it harder for a dog officer to see if a dog is on a four foot leash or muzzle? A reasonable person can also only conclude that a dog is far less likely to bite if it had a muzzle on as well.
10. The angle some are now trying to spin is that none of these bites was by a dog on a leash and thus according to their reasoning if this ordinance had been in place it would not have prevented bites. First there is no proof that these dogs did not escape from a leash as no dog officer was there when the incident actually occurred. However if the dogs had been in a fenced in yard it is quite possible this would not have happened.
Also many of these dogs may not have been in the city at all, since more than half were renters in non owner occupied properties, with unregistered dogs, who may very well not have ever received the owner’s permission to be there and quite possibly would have been removed prior. The ordinance as written will almost guarantee that the city will have far fewer pit bulls in the future and thus by sheer law of averages there will and there would have been, fewer bites. Again the good Doctor who testified readily conceded that if there were fewer pit-bulls there indeed would be fewer bites.
So in closing, to illustrate how dangerous pit-bulls are: if there were as many pit bulls in Malden as people, and bite incidents were classified as aggravated assaults, the average rate of aggravated assault by pit-bulls in the last three years would have been over 1,500 per year. If one calculated the same math on all other dogs, during that span, the average aggravated assault level each year would have been approximately 220.
|Pitbull Aggravated Assault Equivalent Analysis|
|Aggravated Assaults||Aggravated Assaults||Aggravated Assaults|
|Total over three years actuals *||18||39||507|
|Avg Aggregated Assaults/Year (3 years)||6||13||169|
|Population unregistered (Rx2)||154||2146|
|(provide by Animal Control and Experts)|
|Aggravated Assaults as % of specific Pop./year||2.60%||0.40%||0.28%|
|How many assaults if everyone had a pit/year||1,558||242||169|
In the last three years the actual average number of aggravated assaults in Malden, by humans, has been 169. Therefore pit bulls per capita commit almost 10 times the aggravated assaults as do humans. The person who discriminates when seeing a pit-bull walking down the street does not do so out of an irrational fear but does so because they are 10 times as likely to be attacked by the pit-bull.
The pit-bull ordinance the City Council passed was done in a reasoned manner, accounting for current owners who do the right thing, yet weighing the safety of all our citizens first. It clearly is meant to lower the numbers of pit bulls over time by a significant amount and thus lower the great chance that more people and other animals will be disfigured, maimed or killed by these dogs. “Show me a neighborhood with a high concentration of pit bulls and I will show you a neighborhood that most people do not want to live in.”
Ward Six City Councillor