Honorable Metro Council Members:
Although I am not a resident of Louisville, nor even of Kentucky, I
have been following the proposed ordinance concerning the banning of "pit bulls"
with much concern. I am the owner of a dog which I show in AKC
sanctioned meets, such as the Kentuckiana Cluster held annually in your
city. And while my breed (Akitas) is not on your banned list, who is to
say that it, along with numerous other breeds, might not be arbitrarily
added at some point?
While I applaud your efforts to protect the citizens of Louisville from
dangerous animals, I do not believe that your approach will accomplish
that, for several reasons.
1. These breeds are not, in and of themselves, necessarily aggressive. If you will look at the statistics
of the American Temperament Testing Society, you will see that breeds
such as American Staffordshire Terriers typically have a high percentage of passing scores.
These tests include measures of aggressiveness. Interestingly, they
generally do better than Chihuahuas and Dachunds. Granted, there are
flawed individuals of any breed that are simply too aggressive not to
pose a hazard. After all, there are human serial killers, aren't there?
2. Banning a group of animals based solely on appearance is a form of
profiling, much akin to proposing the banning of Mustang automobiles,
simply because they have been involved in fatal wrecks. The issue here
is not the brand of car, but the behavior of the driver. Profiling
fails when the proper predictor variables aren't identified. I don't
believe appearance is a valid predictor of behavior.
3. People who are determined to have an aggressive, dangerous animal will simply either
ignore the law, or find some other kind of dog. Once it was Dobermans, then Rottweilers. Now it is "pit bulls".
4. Any breed of dog can be made to be aggressive through
abuse, maltreatment, being kept on a chain, used for fighting, or in
other ways. Again, this has nothing to do with the breed, but the
actions of the owner. In summary, you would do much better to focus on
the actions of irresponsible owners, than a specific breed or breeds of
dogs. Breed bans will, in my opinion, do little to change the behavior
of irresponsible owners, and much to punish those who are responsible
owners and breeders, of any breed.
There are other very troubling provisions. The power invested in the
Animal Control officer seems excessive. If he seizes my animal, and I
have no recourse, is not that a violation of due process? The
provisions also seem vague and rather arbitrary, leaving much too much to his or her judgment.
According to my understanding of the ordinance, my dog could be seized
even if I'm merely traveling through your city.
Breed bans are typically supported by organizations who have the stated
goal of ending all human use of animals for any purpose whatsover. Will
you consider a ban on the racing of horses?
If enacted, this legislation could have a significant negative economic
impact. When I go to a show, I try to do it on a very limited budget,
but I estimate that food, lodging, gasoline, and other expenses run me
at least $100/day. I suspect that is a low figure, and that most may
spend more than that. Plus, I do it all by myself. Most have helpers,
bring other family members, and engage professional handlers. Each of
these persons add to the daily cost. If you add up all the exhibitors,
show personnel such as judges and show superintendent personnel,
handlers, groomers and vendors, a major show could involve a few
thousand people. If you only assume $100/day for 1000 people over a
five day period, it begins to add up, and I suspect that would be a low figure.
I would at some point, like to consider exhibiting my dog in the
Louisville show cluster, one of the major shows in the country.
However, if this legislation passes, I will not. I would not feel that
either I or my dog would be safe in your city.