How do I tell Coco they want to kill her?
...when pit bulls are criminalized, only criminals will own pit bulls.

-- Radley Balko

In an ominous Pennsylvania development, a group of legislators want to do away with Pennsylvania's ban on breed specific legislation:
State Rep. John Galloway (D., Bucks) will announce legislation today that would allow municipalities to pass ordinances restricting dangerous dogs.

ADBA's position and analysis continues below.

Galloway, who will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. at the Bristol Borough Hall, said he was inspired to draft the bill after a large dog attacked a beagle being walked by a little girl in his district.

Luna, the beagle, was being walked by a 5-year-old girl and her uncle in Bristol when it was attacked by a pit bull that had wandered out of its yard. Luna and the little girl, along with local officials, will attend the event.

It's terrible that this little girl's beagle was attacked. Had I been there, I would have done anything in my power to stop the attack. Whatever jerk allowed his dog loose (whether it was a pit bull or not) should have his dog taken away from him, and the owner of the beagle would have been fully justified in shooting the other dog.

What is not justified is the attempt by grandstanding politicians to make me into a criminal, simply because Coco (whose best friend is a little Shih Tzu named Tristan and who is also in love with a beagle named Bailey) happens to share the same collective breed name which is being applied to the dog which attacked Luna the beagle.

I deeply and bitterly resent this profound abuse of logic. Dog A is not controlled by his owner and attacks Dog B, so they want to punish owners of Dog C, because Dog C allegedly resembles Dog A. By definition, this is bigotry. Every dog is different, just as every person is different. There are good dogs with good owners and there are bad dogs with bad owners. People should be making up their minds about individual dogs and individual owners based on the conduct of the individual dogs and individual owners. There are leash laws, and laws against allowing dogs to run loose. If violators of these laws own ill-behaved pit bulls which are allowed to run around and wreak havoc, they're like criminal gun owners who engage in drive-by shootings. Show me a bad pit bull that attacks innocent dogs or people, and I'll show you a bad dog owner. (IMO, the popularity of strong dogs with criminals is a result of the drug war, which is another topic.....)

But Breed Specific Legislation disregards the fact that just as not all dogs are the same, not all humans are the same.

This is another example of nanny state social engineering at its worst. Anyone who thinks it will stop at "pit bulls," think again. Like so-called "assault weapons" they're another foot in the door -- based more on an appearance than anything else. (And if you think a pit bull is easy to spot by its appearance, just take this test.)

But dogs looking like pit bulls are only a first step. All large and powerful dogs will ultimately be on the "dog control" list. Nanny statists simply do not want citizens owning dogs which are capable of defending themselves and their familes.

Parenthetically, Clayton Cramer has documented that dog control laws share a racist history along with gun control laws:

In Maryland, these prohibitions went so far as to prohibit free blacks from owning dogs without a license, and authorizing any white to kill an unlicensed dog owned by a free black, for fear that blacks would use dogs as weapons. Mississippi went further, and prohibited any ownership of a dog by a black person.[5]
Whether Breed Specific Legislation might be rooted in similar impulses is in my view a legitimate topic. While it might not be consciously racist, the communitarian impulse nonetheless lumps people together, lumps dogs together, and enact "preemptive" legislation.

Sponsor Galloway is a Democrat, which doesn't surprise me, but I see there are Republicans listed among the bill's sponsors. (GALLOWAY, MELIO, RAMALEY, JAMES, SAYLOR, MAHONEY, PARKER, GOODMAN, PASHINSKI, SIPTROTH, MOYER, BISHOP, REICHLEY, SWANGER, MURT AND GERBER -- of whom Saylor, Moyer, Reichley, Swanger, and Murt are Republicans.)

This stuff really fries me, and I don't know what to say, other than I hope that this law is defeated.

I might as well repeat myself:

I don't know if there is any way to put this more simply, but Coco is my dog, and that's all there is to it. I am loyal to her, and in being loyal to her, I am being loyal to myself. The people who want to make me cut out her ovaries and the people who want to kill her I must oppose resolutely, lest I cease to be a free citizen.

I find it depressing to live in a country which would invade my home and kill my dog, and despite my use of satire, ridicule and sarcasm as weapons, I don't think their movement is funny at all. It is sinister. I do not think it is hyperbole to call it Orwellian, and yes, even totalitarian.

I think any government that would take away dogs that have done no harm which are owned by law-abiding citizens is by definition a tyrannical government. If they can do this, they can do nearly anything.

I know I am repeating myself, but stuff like this calls for repetition. So I'll also repeat what I said when I repeated myself in a post titled "As the noose tightens, the hangman becomes respectable": I am, minding my own business and not so much as inconveniencing anyone, while an ever-growing number of people want to make me into a criminal. As it is, I'm forced to live as an exile from California, where my dog and my guns would be criminal activities.

So, should I just sit around in Pennsylvania and imagine it could never happen here? Or should I move South and hope it doesn't happen there?

Wherever I go, it seems that it's easier and easier to become a criminal by doing nothing.

While I try to defend my right to keep and bear arms as often as I can, there's something about this that rankles me in a way that the gun control debate does not. That's because a gun is a tool, and not a member of the family, and people who want to take them away are not threatening to take away and kill a member of the family.

My dog Coco is not a gun.


She is a member of my family. Fortunately, she is a dog, so she cannot realize that there are well-organized people in the government who want to kill her. But how am I supposed to feel about people who propose killing a member of my family?

Like I say, this is a more emotional issue than the gun issue. It's hard to look at a member of your family and not feel.

MORE: A friend just emailed me what I think is a perfect example of a killer pit bull in action:

Notice that not only are all of these dogs extremely dangerous, they're diabolically clever at luring their victims into a false sense of security.

MORE: Commenter Oregon Guy asks,

Where is the Kennel Club? Are there no advocates for dogs?
All major kennel organizations oppose BSL, including the PA bill. The AKC's position on the PA bill is here, and here's the UKC on BSL.

And here's a statement from the ADBA:

The ADBA, AKC and UKC believes that strong enforcement of leash laws, as well as clear guidelines for identifying and managing dangerous dogs, will promote responsible dog ownership and prevent tragedies from occurring. Simply placing restrictions on certain breeds will not improve public safety - it will only punish responsible dog owners.

We strongly support sound, enforceable, non-discriminatory legislation to govern dog ownership, and we appreciate legislators' desire to keep communities safe for both people and dogs. However, BSL will not address the root cause of dangerous dogs - irresponsible ownership!

Click here to continue reading.

UPDATE: Here's more from the ADBA:

If you believe that it does not affect you because you don't own a "pit bull," it may shock you to know that ALL of the following breeds have been targeted; Akita, Alaskan Malamute, American Bull Dog, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Belgian Malinois, Boerboel, Bull Terrier, Cane Corso, Chow Chow, Doberman Pincher, Dogo Argentino, English Mastiff, Fila Brasileiro, German Shepard, Great Dane, Irish Wolf Hound, Mastiff, Presa Mallorquin, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Scottish Deerhound, Shar Pei, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the Tosa Inu.


• BSL has been ruled unconstitutional in Court venues across the United States on grounds ranging from vagueness, to an infringement of property rights, to equal treatment, equal protection.
• Dogs have been the domesticated traditional property of human beings for well over thirty-five thousand years. This tradition gives legal standing to dog owners based upon the IX Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States of America.
• BSL violates the rights granted under the IV Amendment to the Bill of Rights.
• BSL violates the rights granted under the V Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
• BSL violates the rights granted under VI Amendment to the Bill of Rights.
• BSL violates the rights granted under VIII Amendment to the Bill of Rights.
• BSL violates the rights granted under XIV Amendment to the Bill of Rights.
• BSL creates a whole new criminal class, the dog owner
• BSL sets a legal precedent that unchallenged empowers the enacting body to add any, or all other dog breeds, or even domestic species of animals to the prohibition on ownership.

Zuniga v. San Mateo Dept. of Health Services (1990) 218 Cal. App. 3d 1521, 267 Cal. Rptr. 2d 755. The court found there was not sufficient evidence to prove Pit Bulls have an inherent nature of being dangerous.

Carter v. Metro North Assocs. (1998) 255 A.D. 2d 251; 680 N.Y.S.2d 299 A New York appellate court determined that the alleged propensities of Pit Bull Terriers to behave more viciously than other breeds had not been authoritatively established.

American Canine Foundation litigated the city of Huntsville Alabama in 2002 in a case that was heard by the Alabama Supreme Court. Huntsville v. Shelia Tact, et al.
(Ala. 08-30-02), No.1010459, unreported. The court affirmed a trial court decision that American Pit Bull Terriers were not dangerous.

On July 16th 2003 ACF brought forth a constitutional challenge against Ohio's state law O.R.C. 955:11 that declares the Pit Bull vicious. The case was heard in the Toledo Municipal Court. The court found the American Pit Bull Terrier was not dangerous, and granted Pit Bull owners due process. Tellings v State of Ohio CRB02-15267

In August 2004 a case American Canine Foundation assisted in was heard by the Ohio Supreme Court. State v. Cowan 103 Ohio St. 3d 144 , 2004 - Ohio - 4777 The court found ORC 955:22 volatile of the right to be heard as applied to ORC955:11 which declared a specific breed of dog vicious in Ohio. The decision struck down Ohio's breed specific legislation at the state level. Ohio was the only state to have this type of legislation at the state level.

• Laws must be reasonable.
• It is not reasonable to write animal behaviors, legal punishments, and criminal labels for animals into statutes that are enacted to structure human society.
• Animals must not be criminalized under laws that are intended to protect human rights, and to control human behaviors.
• It is unreasonable to write animal behavior into laws that no animal has the capacity to understand, answer to, or to function under.
• It is unreasonable to mete out criminal labels to animals, i.e. dangerous, or potentially dangerous. It is unreasonable to proscribe punishments to animals under our laws.
• It is unreasonable to remove the human owner from blame, or culpability for the actions of his/her animal(s).
• It is unreasonable to assume that every dog of a given breed, or physical appearance will behave in exactly the same manner.
• It is unreasonable to assume that every owner of every dog of a given breed, or physical appearance is irresponsible, negligent, or careless with their animal(s).
• Human error, carelessness, or negligence is the underlying factor behind every dog attack.
• Given the actual figures of severe dog attacks, or fatalities related to dog attacks per capita in the United States of America, dogs are not the threat to human life that the sensationalistic media, and urban myth would portray.

There exists at this time no scientific proof that a breed of dog is dangerous. Conclusions based on accurate fatal dog attacks combined with dog bite incident reports prove a dogs breed is not a factor in aggressive behavior. Breed bans do nothing to stop dog attacks, they do nothing to stop illegal activity, they do nothing to protect the public from irresponsible dog owners and punish responsible dog owners, causing court litigation, wasted tax money and impoundment of innocent dogs while criminalizing U.S. Citizens.

Problems stem from inadequate budget or man power to enforce the laws, inadequate training to effectively deal with the problem dogs in a humane way, and low priority of animal control issues. Poor community education of existing animal control laws and lack of judicial support in upholding effective penalties also create serious problems. Strong laws that penalize the owners, regardless of the breed are what is needed. These types of laws are valid, have merit, are not vague or capricious. We ALL support laws that hold owners accountable for their dog's behavior.

Non-breed specific laws are valid under the Constitution, and are for the protection of the public welfare and safety with the degree of precision that characterizes effective legislation.

BSL and the Cost to Taxpayers

1. Cost of additional animal control officers to enforce the ban or restrictions. **Remember, most cities do not have sufficient animal control departments to enforce leash laws, which if enforced would reduce many of the problems that lead to bite incidents.

2. Kenneling.

3. Veterinary care of the animals. (Hope you don't think the animals are confiscated and immediately euthanized).

4. Legal fees, court costs, etc., associated with responsible owners lawsuits against ineffective and unconstitutional laws.

5. Baltimore, Maryland estimated (in 2001) that it cost over $750,000 a year to enforce their breed specific legislation, and they were still unable to enforce the law effectively.

6. Prince George County, Maryland reviewed their existing dangerous dog laws, including a ban on pit bulls. The task force recommended repealing the law and sited these cost factors:

(a) Loss of revenue - since the ban has been in effect, there has been a dramatic reduction in dog show/exhibits in the county. Along with this comes some indirect loss of revenue such as hotel/motels, restaurants, gas stations, veterinarians, pet supply stores, grocery and drug stores, etc.

(b) Director of Animal Management Division estimated the County's cost for maintaining a single pit bull throughout the entire process for one (1) year was $68,000.

(c) Fees from pit bull registration in 2001-2002 generated approximately $35,000 over the two (2) year period. However, the cost to the Animal Management Division for maintenance of pit bulls over the same period was $560,000. In addition, these figures would be higher but did not take into consideration utilities, manpower and overtime.

(d) It should be noted that these average costs to Prince George County do not include the expenditures of the of the County or Municipal police departments. These cross-agency costs, while significant, could not be fully captured or adequately estimated.

Source: Prince George County Task Force Report

Communities that have repealed pit bulls bans because they were found to be (1) too costly; (2) difficult to enforce and (3) ineffective:

Belton, Missouri

Bourbonnais, Illinois

Detroit, Michigan

East Point, Michigan

Redford, Michigan

Beloit, Kansas

Alguna, Washington

Hudsonville, Michigan

Baltimore, Maryland

Saginaw, Michigan

Any dog, regardless of breed, is only as dangerous as his/her owner allows it to be.

Also, if you are not registered to vote, GET REGISTERED! Your local government officials have more effect on your day to day life, then any other government body.

Back those who listen and back you! `As for the others, VOTE THEM OUT!


If you choose to remain uninvolved, do not be amazed when you no longer have any property rights! Your rights, taken away while you are peacefully staying out of the "fray".

If they can do this to your dog, is anything you have out of their reach? Check history, it is full of nations/empires that disappeared when its citizens no longer held their core beliefs and values.

One person CAN make a difference. One plus one plus one plus one plus one plus one.........

posted by Eric on 05.29.08 at 12:38 PM


When my youngest dog was still a puppy, she ran across the street one day and "attacked" another dog. Well, attacked is probably a bad choice to describe what occurred. She ran over hoping to play with the other dog. But dog play is pretty much physical play, and the other dog was one of those useless breeds preferred by people who can't bear or raise children. And as a pup, my little girl did weigh about 50 pounds.

She will not leave the yard without me now. But at five months she still had a bit to learn. All these poor folks knew was that a big black dog attacked their dog. Trust me, I know what an attack looks like. I did help to let them know that she was "just a puppy." But I don't, to this day, leave her in the yard without the fence closed.

It is the appearance of wrong-doing that is important to people outside the dog community. Even a well-socialized dog can "appear" threatening. It's just the nature of the beast. They bark. And when they weigh 90 pounds and are GSD's, people assume they're "attack" dogs.

Where is the Kennel Club? Are there no advocates for dogs?

OregonGuy   ·  May 29, 2008 2:45 PM

Looks like Coco could use a beef jerky.

dre   ·  May 29, 2008 6:08 PM


You want her to hear you??

Eric Scheie   ·  May 29, 2008 6:27 PM

So is this the canine equivalent of Clinton's "Scary-looking Gun" Ban?

Cris   ·  May 29, 2008 6:37 PM

One of my daughters has a German Shepherd that is an absolutely gorgeous friendly dog who wants no more than for you to scratch his tummy and lick your hand.

But his bark sounds ferocious. When I was at their house alone one day, UPS delivered a package. The dog barked, notifying me a stranger was at the door, and upon opening it, the UPS person was laughing, saying he sounded so ferocious, would he lick her to death? Yes, he might ;-)

My daughter knows that they have a great responsibility in raising a dog who could - if not raised right - be a danger to people. They've gone overboard in "socializing" their dog and he's the gentlest thing on earth. The average bystander might not know that.

I do know that breed-specific laws are stupid. Dog-Owner-specific laws make more sense to me - you stupid? you can't own a dog!

Donna B.   ·  May 29, 2008 11:08 PM
Ron Hardin   ·  May 30, 2008 10:05 AM

Pits are all but illegal here in Oregon. Having one will raise your homeowner's insurance 300% or so. The shelters are full of them.

Bob   ·  May 30, 2008 2:01 PM

I feel your annoyance/anger at the attempted breed ban legislation.

Feds, and many states, even down to a community level are pushing similar legislation with all kinds of media frenzy (the "march of the burmese pythons", which is absolutely absurd and depends on global warming to make MD as temperate a location as south florida) trying to ban people who have exotic pets from having/keeping those animals also, based on scare tactics, rather then real or actual facts.

I myself keep exotic pets, and have some different family members, including snakes and lizards...I also have had to move to be able to keep my animals because they were banned where I had lived previously, and they absolutely do not "grandfather" anything in this country anymore...

I hope the breed ban legsilations crashes and burns, and you can go on living in peace with coco.

Kaw   ·  June 1, 2008 4:05 AM

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