Fort Riley in Kansas Bans “Pit Bulls” from the Base

October 15, 2008

P.O. Box 1406 Newport, WA 99156
Web Site E-mail US
Blog E-mail List

Cherie Graves, Chairwoman, WA, (509) 447-2821
JSD, Assistant to the Chair,
Director at Large, GA
B. Pensgard, Executive Secretary, Illinois Director,
Hermine Stover, Media Liaison, Director at Large, CA,
Mary Schaeffer, Finance Director,
Arizona Director, John Bowen,
California Director, Jan Dykema,
Indiana Director, Charles Coffman,
Iowa Director, Leisa Boysen,
Mississippi Director, Dan Crutchfield,
Nevada Director, Ken Sondej,
Tennessee Director, Gina Cotton,
Texas Director, Alvin Crow,


The Commanding Officer

Dear Sir:

It was of great concern to hear that Fort Riley has banned “pit bulls,” American Staffordshire Terriers, and their mixes from the base, particularly as “pit bull” is not a breed recognized by any breed registry like the AKC, UKC, or ADBA. Indeed, the slang term “pit bull,” which has repeatedly been found by many courts to be unconstitutionally vague, can refer and has referred to at least 30 different breeds. One could argue that any medium- or large-sized breed could technically be called a “pit bull” since this seems to be the standard the media uses. As such, statistics on “pit bulls” are greatly skewed making it appear as if the “pit bull” “breed” is inherently vicious or more deadly. However, if actual breed determinations were made for attacking dogs instead of simply labeling them “pit bulls,” no one breed would emerge as more statistically likely to bite/attack/kill.

Worse, breed bans have been found to negate due process rights (meaning they are unconstitutional) by several courts in the United States. We are told that these wars fought in Afghanistan and Iraq are undertaken in order to spread democracy to lands where the notion of freedom is a foreign idea, and yet this arbitrary ban is a stark violation of the constitutionally-protected rights to due process and ownership and use rights. Are my colleagues and those we represent to understand that Fort Riley would negate the very rights that our soldiers are fighting for in foreign lands as we speak? Is this just?

Indeed, it is ironic that soldiers are fighting a war on several fronts in order to defend those constitutional rights; rights which in this instance may not be afforded to them. Also ironic is that Sgt. Stubby, a war dog whose breed was in 1917 referred to as a “Pit Bull Terrier” or an “American Bull Terrier,” was the most decorated war dog of World War I and the only dog ever to be promoted to sergeant through combat. Sergeant Stubby was decorated by two presidents and is preserved in the Smithsonian Institute. Yet, this is the breed that Fort Riley has banned.

What you refer to as the “pit bull” comprises several breeds with a long history of valor as Sgt. Stubby should show. But “pit bulls” also make excellent search and rescue (S&R) dogs. Perhaps you will remember the date Feb. 1, 2003, the day when the shuttle Columbia went down. On Feb. 3rd, when NASA and FEMA undertook the enormous task of recovering the astronauts’ remains, among those S&R dogs chosen was a dog named Dakota, a “pit bull.” According to Dakota’s handler,

“We were there for 10 days and the pressure to perform flawlessly was incredible. We had a duty to bring our astronauts home; to provide
closure for their families…and to our nation./Dakota, my “pit bull”, was hand picked by both FEMA and NASA for this mission because of her proven search skills, professionalism in chaotic situations, her never quit attitude and also her humor and charm” (

And yet this is a breed that Fort Riley has banned.

Another Army base we recently contacted regarding their consideration of a ban of eight breeds informed us that the reason for considering such a decision was the supposed need for safety. They claimed that the breeds they were considering banning/restricting were a threat to the safety of others on the base. Yet they offered no proof of such a claim, and strangely while they claimed the eight breeds in question that they sought to ban/restrict were a danger, they also noted that they could quite possibly decide to “grandfather” in current owners. We found it odd that they would claim these breeds were an impending threat and yet still allow these breeds they considered dangerous on the base, a move that seemed contradictory and irrational. So for the same reason, we must question Fort Riley’s rationale for grandfathering in current “pit bull” owners while maintaining that this “breed” is an impending threat.

Of course, we are well aware that there is no such thing as a “dangerous” or “vicious” breed. Nor is there any credible scientific evidence to back up the claim that any one breed presents as a danger to anyone on your base. We would, however, be interested in knowing how it is that Fort Riley can say with authority that “The pit bull, American Staffordshire terrier or a cross of this breed has a genetic propensity which may lead to unprovoked aggression or attacks.” Please Sir, would you provide us with the study or source for such a conspicuously false statement? We fear you have been misled by pseudoscientists who pass off junk science as fact.

More credible scientists who are actually respected in their field and not openly dismissed by their peers have said verifiable things like the following by Dr. I. Lerh Brisbin, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist with the Savanna River Ecology Laboratory, University of South Carolina Professor, and an expert in training, handling, behavior and the anatomy of bulldog breeds whose testimony to a trial court in Ohio is recounted in the following excerpt from the court’s decision:

“…pit bulls do not have locking jaws. Based on actual dog dissections and measurement of their skulls, the evidence demonstrated that pit bull jaw muscles and bone structure are the same as other similarly sized dogs. No evidence was presented to demonstrate that a pit bull’s bite is any stronger than other dogs of its size and build…[C]ontrary to information relied upon and perpetuated by earlier case law…and law review articles…assertions that a pit bull can bite with a “force of 2,000 pounds per square inch” have absolutely no basis in fact or scientific proof” (

Based on Dr. Brisbin’s and others’ testimonies the court concluded “that there is no evidence that pit bulls are inherently dangerous or vicious” and that “the city ordinance limitation on ownership [was] arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory.” The court concluded properly that there is no credible scientific proof that there is any one vicious breed, only careless, irresponsible owners who fail to train, socialize, and otherwise properly care for their dogs. These kinds of owners are not limited to any one breed, but thankfully they are limited in number.

Additionally, breed bans have long been proven ineffective. For instance, Brighton, Colorado decided against a breed-specific ordinance just last month because,

“several municipalities in the area instituted pit-bull bans with no reduction in vicious animal complaints and with a significant increase in the number of hours worked by animal control staff” (

In the end, Brighton decided simply to enforce the laws they already had on their books noting that “although the number of pit bulls has increased following the institution of bans in neighboring communities, vicious dog incidents involving the breed have not.”

Based on all the evidence provided in this letter, it is our hope that Fort Riley will reconsider the decision to ban “pit bulls,” American Staffordshire Terriers, and their mixes as no good can come from it.

For your further consideration, I have herein included Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States’ Position Statement on Breed-Specific Legislation.

Thank you very much for your time.


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

P.O. Box 1406 Newport, WA 99156
Web Site E-mail US
Blog E-mail List

Cherie Graves, Chairwoman, WA, (509) 447-2821
JSD, Assistant to the Chair,
Director at Large, GA
B. Pensgard, Executive Secretary, Illinois Director,
Hermine Stover, Media Liaison, Director at Large, CA,
Mary Schaeffer, Finance Director,
Arizona Director, John Bowen,
California Director, Jan Dykema,
Indiana Director, Charles Coffman,
Iowa Director, Leisa Boysen,
Mississippi Director, Dan Crutchfield,
Nevada Director, Ken Sondej,
Tennessee Director, Gina Cotton,
Texas Director, Alvin Crow,


Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States was formed October 15, 1989 to protect the rights, and interests of dog owners. Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States opposes breed specific legislation
(BSL) on legal, and moral grounds, and upon the Rules of Reason that all laws must meet. Our position is that every dog owner is responsible for protecting the public from his/her dog.

Our research shows that in the majority of severe or fatal dog attacks there had been numerous, previous reports made to Animal Control that were not acted upon. Our research further shows that as shocking, and
traumatic as severe or fatal dog attacks are, they are relatively uncommon occurrences in comparison to other causes of severe injury, or fatalities in the United States, given that the vast majority of Americans are dog owners. The likelihood of any pure-bred, registered dog being involved in a fatal attack upon a human being is infinitesimal.


-BSL is based upon the urban myth of the “pit bull”, which is not a recognized breed of dog. Under the guise of banning “pit bulls” any breed may be thus identified. There are at least seventy-five actual breeds, plus any mixed breed now either banned from ownership, or restricted in ownership in the United States. That is about 1/5 of all recognized breeds.

-BSL is inflammatory, and is based upon unproven beliefs, not facts.

-BSL is under inclusive in that it only recognizes a threat to society from certain breeds, or mixed breeds of dogs.

-BSL is over inclusive, as dogs are as varied within their breed, as are human beings within our ethnicity.

-BSL by stipulating, and naming specific breeds as being dangerous indemnifies all of the unnamed breeds as being safe by exclusion.

-BSL creates a false sense of public safety.

-BSL does not address the irresponsible dog owner.

-BSL punishes the law abiding dog owner.

-BSL orders the death of dogs based solely upon their physical appearance.

-BSL assumes that human beings are inferior to, and incapable of properly maintaining dogs of specific breeds, or appearance.


-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. Four Pit Bull Puppies (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 violative 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.

§ 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights . Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

§ 1982. Property rights of citizens All citizens of the United States shall have the same right, in every
State and Territory, as is enjoyed by white citizens thereof to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property.


a.. Laws must be reasonable.
b.. It is not reasonable to write animal behaviors, legal punishments, and criminal labels for animals into statutes that are enacted to structure human society.
c.. Animals must not be criminalized under laws that are intended to protect human rights, and to control human behaviors.
d.. It is unreasonable to write animal behavior into laws that no animal has the capacity to understand, answer to, or to function under.
e.. It is unreasonable to mete out criminal labels to animals, i.e. dangerous, or potentially dangerous. It is unreasonable to prescribe punishments to animals under our laws.
f.. It is unreasonable to remove the human owner from blame, or culpability for the actions of his/her animal(s).
g.. It is unreasonable to assume that every dog of a given breed, or physical appearance will behave in exactly the same manner.
h.. It is unreasonable to assume that every owner of every dog of a given breed, or physical appearance is irresponsible, negligent, or careless with his/her animal(s).
i.. Human error, carelessness, or negligence is the underlying factor behind every dog attack.
j.. 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.

2 Responses to “Fort Riley in Kansas Bans “Pit Bulls” from the Base”

  1. Chad said

    It’s a shame, but these BSL bans show an underlying problem with our society. The squeaky wheels get greased all the while the great majority remain silent

  2. selwyn marock said

    I have stopped writing about how EVIL and HEINOUS the ILLEGAL Law BSL is.
    If you wish to rid US of this law,then you have
    to stop trying to reason with political peanuts.
    The American animal lovers which do make up a substantial VOTING power have to mix politics with their love of their pets.
    I understand Mçann is in favour of BSL and Obama is not.Go to the top and tell both these gentleman that unless they undertake to rid the
    world of this ridiculous law you will not vote for them,make this a political issue,it is your only chance.Wasting effort trying to take on
    power hungry SCUM like K.Nelson of Denver(City of Shame)or M Bryant of OnsCario ,this TRASH
    enjoy the NOTORIETY and they use the animal lover’s TAX dollars to fight the battles.

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