Dear Mr. Henderson,
I am writing to request that you oppose the breed specific language in the 8th Draft of the Animal Control Ordinance. Breed specific laws, whether they are mandatory spay/neuter, or very restrictive, or outright bans have serious constitutional problems. Such laws are ineffective and unenforceable. Further, they are expensive, and actually reduce public safety. I would like to address some specific issues with the currently proposed breed specific law in Louisville:
There are legal issues with the definition of "pit bull." The AKC does not recognize 5 of the 7 named breeds, so there are no breed standards that may be obtained from that organization for those 5 breeds. The AKC does not own the standards describing the other two breeds. Instead, those standards are owned and copyrighted by the parent breed clubs. Since breed specific legislation has become an increasing threat to specific breeds of dogs, parent breed clubs have taken to sending "Cease and Desist" orders to municipalities that use their copyrighted standards to identify dogs of their breed--or mixes thereof. These clubs are prepared to go to court to show that the misuse of their copyrighted standards in this way harms the clubs, which have worked for many years to breed dogs to fit those standards, and whose very existence is threatened by misbegotten breed specific laws.
There is no scientifically objective or accurate way to determine breed in an unregistered purebred dog. There is no scientifically objective or accurate way to determine breed heritage in a mixed breed dog. Testimony to these facts has been presented in courts, which have then decided that breed specific legislation is vague and unenforceable.
Further, there is very strong precedent in the courts (including decisions handed down by federal courts up to and including the United States Supreme Court) that recognizes dogs as property. This recognition means that dogs, as property, are protected under the United States Constitution. No dog or other property may be seized by any government without due process and just compensation. This proposed breed specific law in many places ignores the property protections guaranteed in the United States Constitution. Instead, the 8th draft gives sweeping powers to the Director of Animal Control to seize dogs (property) and to refuse to return those dogs (property) to their owners. Does the Metro Council want the city to face the liability issues that will result from seizure of a valuable show or hunting dog, whose worth can go into 5 or even 6 figures?
This proposed legislation is unreasonable and unnecessary. Fatal dog attacks account for less than 0.076% of all dog attacks in this country. An average of 16 people per year die of dog bite related injuries--less than die annually from lightning strikes! Injuries from dog bites are more rare than injuries from bike accidents, and 92.4% of the time, less severe.
Please stop focusing on the red-herring issue of public safety from dog bites. Instead, fix the current ordinance so it no longer requires people to vaccinate their dogs with rabies vaccines approved by Kentucky's Department of Human Resources (which deals with personnel issues, not rabies vaccines), and the myriad other errors in the current ordinance.
In closing, I would like to bring your attention to the fact that Miami-Dade County, Florida has had a ban against "pit bulls" in place for 20 years. This month, two fatal dog attacks occurred there. Neither attack was committed by a "pit bull."