Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval Puts Onus for Gangs/Illegal Immigration on “Pit Bulls”

October 16, 2007

Read an article about Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval’s push for a ban on “pit bulls” in Berwyn, Illinois in an attempt to divert attention away from illegal immigration and the gang violence that goes with it. Read my response to Sen. Sandoval which follows:

Sen. Sandoval:

It was with great dismay that I read today that you have given your support for a breed-specific ban on “pit bulls” in Berwyn, especially when you have misinformed the Chicago Suburban News and consequently the public that breed bans are “permissible” in the state of Illinois. Breed-specific ordinances or legislation of any kind are unlawful in the state of Illinois:

(510 ILCS 5/24) (from Ch. 8, par. 374) Sec. 24. Nothing in this Act shall be held to limit in any manner the power of any municipality or other political subdivision to prohibit animals from running at large, nor shall anything in this Act be construed to, in any manner, limit the power of any municipality or other political subdivision to further control and regulate dogs, cats or other animals in such municipality or other political subdivision provided that no regulation or ordinance is specific to breed. (Source: P.A. 93 548, eff. 8 19 03.)

Also, the constitutionality of declaring home rule status is in question as is breed-specific legislation itself. I wonder at your not having mentioned that to the Berwyn City Council.

Additionally, I think it is unconscionable that you would urge Berwyn to pass a breed ban when everyone in Illinois knows full well what the real problem is: gangs. Many municipalities in Illinois don’t want to admit that there is a gang problem in their cities because if they acknowledge the gang problems then they must also acknowledge the illegal immigrant problem, and of course it is a well-known fact that Illinois corporations love their cheap, illegal immigrant labor.

I have had policemen lie to my face in my own home town and tell me that gangs weren’t a problem as they were scrubbing gang graffiti off my front walk and taking a gang member off to jail for a drive-by in front of my house. I’ve had police officers on a ladder trying to extract bullet fragments out of my gutters, so perhaps it’s time politicians fess up and admit that “pit bulls” aren’t the problem. People, and more precisely, gangs and illegal immigrants, are the problem. We in Chicago and suburban Chicago have dangerous gangs on our streets and still you maintain that “pit bulls” are the greatest threat to the public??? What price has corporate cronyism cost Illinois in the loss of human life due to gang-related violence???

According to the CDC, between 1979 and 1998 there were 66 fatalities as a result of “pit bulls.” This statistic is actually false, but I’ll get to that in a minute. According to the Chicago Tribune and the Violence Prevention Institute, in 2001, there were 665 homicides in Chicago, 53% of them were gang-related. In one year alone there were over 300 deaths as a result of gang violence. Compare that to 66 fatalities from so-called “pit bulls” over an entire decade across the entire nation! And, since “pit bull” is not a breed recognized by any breed registry (like the AKC or UKC) and since there are as many as 35 breeds that have been called by the slang term “pit bull,” the usual suspects parsed out of the slang term “pit bull” — the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the
Staffordshire Bull Terrier — for banning are seldom if ever the actual breeds responsible for the fatalities. So Sen. Sandoval, one must really wonder why you are pushing for a “pit bull” ban when gang violence is a much more deadly threat to the safety of the public, particularly children.

I have been reticent until now to blame gangs and illegal immigration for the rash of unconstitutional “pit bull” bans that have swept this nation, particularly since I live in a so-called “blue” state. But 90% of this “blue” state wants some form of immigration reform. What does that tell you Mr. Sandoval? American citizens are sick and tired of paying $20 for a pill in the emergency room because illegal immigrants are the first recipients of universal healthcare (i.e. socialized medicine). We’re tired of having our taxes increased because illegal immigrants don’t pay even close to their fair share. But most of all Americans are tired of losing our freedoms, the latest of which Mr. Sandoval, is the right to our property, which our dogs most certainly are, and the right to due process and equal protection, to liberty, all of which breed bans negate. These are our 14th amendment civil rights Mr. Sandoval. To put them in jeopardy, particularly out of an interest in protecting illegal immigrants/gangs, is nothing short of treason.


Elizabeth Pensgard
Illinois Director, Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States

Read more about Sen. Sandoval’s activities here.


One Response to “Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval Puts Onus for Gangs/Illegal Immigration on “Pit Bulls””

  1. Kristina Lane said

    How right you are. Congratulations on a well written letter. There are so many ways in which we allow our constitutional rights to be taken away, not the least of which is in perpetuating Breed specific legislation. It is time our citizenry stand up and be heard about the real problems this nation faces, and they don’t run around on four legs! Any dog can bite, many dogs do. However, BSL isn’t the answer and it isn’t even targeted at dogs that do the most biting. Little ankle biter dogs bite many times more often than any other breed but they shouldn’t be banned either. BSL is just another way for sneaky politicians to remove more of our rights and freedoms and never thinking of those they harm along the way.

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