Letter to Toledo, Ohio Mayor and City Council Regarding Their Consideration of Mandatory Spay/Neuter Ordinance for Impounded “Pit Bulls”

April 2, 2008

RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERS OF THE WESTERN STATES
P.O. Box 1406 Newport, WA 99156
Web Site http://www.povn.com/rdows E-mail US rdows@povn.com
Blog https://rdows.wordpress.com E-mail List http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rdows

Cherie Graves, Chairwoman, WA, (509) 447-2821
Judy Schreiber, Assistant to the Chair,
Director at Large, rdowsdirectoratlarge@chevalier-bullterriers.com
Elizabeth Pensgard, Executive Secretary, Illinois Director, bpensgard@yahoo.com
Hermine Stover, Media Liaison, Director at Large, CA, hermine@endangeredspecies.com
Mary Schaeffer, Finance Director, finedogs@hotmail.com
Arizona Director, John Bowen, johnalldogs@sprintmail.com
California Director, Jan Dykema, bestuvall@sbcglobal.net
Indiana Director, Charles Coffman, candkcoffman@comcast.net
Iowa Director, Leisa Boysen, rdows_iowa@yahoo.com
Mississippi Director, Dan Crutchfield, farmer1@telepak.net
Nevada Director, Ken Sondej, 4winds@viawest.net
Tennessee Director, Gina Cotton, ginacotton@msn.com
Texas Director, Alvin Crow, crobx@austin.rr.com

To:

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner
Councilman Phillip Copeland
Councilman Joe McNamara
Councilman George Sarantou
Councilwoman Betty Shultz
Councilman Mark Sobczak
Councilman Frank J. Szollosi
Councilwoman Wilma Brown
Councilman D. Michael Collins
Councilman Mike Craig
Councilman Michael D. Ashford
Councilman Tom Waniewski
Councilwoman Lindsay M. Webb

Dear Mayor Finkbeiner and esteemed members of the Toledo City Council:

It was disappointing to hear that the city of Toledo is considering a breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for impounded “pit bulls” particularly because “pit bull” is not a breed recognized by any breed registry like the AKC, UKC, or ADBA. Indeed, the slang term “pit bull” can refer and has referred to as many as 30 different breeds. One could argue that any medium- or large-sized breed could technically be called a “pit bull.” As such, what actual breeds will Toledo require to be altered?

If by “pit bull” it is meant the following breeds — American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier — then you should know that these breeds rated 84.3%, 83.4%, and 88.8% respectively on their temperament tests according to the American Temperament Test Society (atts.org). Compare these ratings to the Golden Retriever, 84.2%, which is thought to be a more mild-mannered breed.

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is fraught with many additional complications, which Toledo well knows, and following are just a few of them:

First, making proper breed determinations is a considerable and overarching problem with breed-specific legislation. Most Animal Control officers cannot distinguish American Pit Bull Terriers (APBTs) from American Bulldogs or Boxers just as a few examples, so how will Toledo know if its ordinance is being properly enforced? Animal Controls have even labeled Labradors as “pit bulls” which is all the more reason not to leave breed determinations up to Animal Control officers. They simply lack the skill to make proper breed determinations. This is no slight on Animal Control, however. It is difficult even for experts to properly determine breed at times, particularly with mixed breeds.

Second, there is no scientific proof that any one breed is more dangerous than another only that some breeds are more popular at the time or that irresponsible owners may be disproportionately attracted to some breeds. Since it has not been proven that any one breed is inherently dangerous or vicious, there is no rational basis for restricting any one breed in any way.

Third, since it has not been established that “pit bull” is a breed or that the many breeds encompassed by the slang term “pit bull” are any more vicious than any other breeds of dog, it is a violation of “pit bull” owners’ ownership and use rights to spay/neuter their dogs should they be found free-roaming.

Fourth, if Toledo has a dog fighting problem, why not crack down on dog fighting instead of the “breed” of dog it is assumed dog fighters use for fighting? A recent bust in Chicago wherein authorities found bulldogs (by which it was assumed they meant English Bulldog-type dogs) were being fought showed that “street” dog fighters will fight any breed of dog. Ban or restrict one or several breeds of dog in an attempt to crack down on dog fighting and dog fighters will either ignore the ban/restrictions (since many of them are gang bangers or recidivist criminals anyway) or simply switch breeds. And how can a breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter ordinance be proposed as a serious attempt to keep dog fighters from breeding their fighting dogs? Do dog fighters pick up their fighting dogs from the pound when they’ve been found free-roaming and would they bother to pay the additional fee for spaying/neutering? These dogs are often found free-roaming precisely because they have been abandoned by dog fighters after losing a fight. How would a breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter ordinance solve this problem? Wouldn’t it be more effective to stop the dog fighting problem in Toledo at its source by cracking down on the dog fighters instead of the dogs they abuse?

There are effective ways to go about ending dog fighting in one’s community. It would not be terribly difficult to send out extra patrols where dog fighting is suspected. Dog fighting is often noisy and frequently draws a large number of people who are involved in prostitution, who deal drugs, or who gang bang. While dog fighting (and its accompanying criminal behavior) is an underground activity it cannot be too difficult to find and infiltrate if even undercover cameras from Inside Edition can get into a fight and record footage.

Please consider free-roaming “pit bulls” not as a problem in and of itself but indicative of a more serious problem in Toledo involving not just dog fighting but possibly gang and drug problems as well.

For your further consideration, I have herein included Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States’ position statement on mandatory spay/neuter. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you very much for your time.

Respectfully,

Elizabeth Pensgard
Executive Secretary and Illinois Director, Responsible Dog Owners of
the Western States
Director, Responsible Dog Owners Group of Illinois

http://www.povn.com/rdows
https://rdows.wordpress.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BSL56-UAOA
http://www.unitedAnimalownersalliance.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RDOWS

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