Dear Council Members:
I have been following quite closely the discussions your council has been having regarding decisions on Breed Specific Legislation or Breed Profiling and it is with great interest and concern that I am writing you today. . I have visited Louisville many times with my dogs for dog shows, specifically the March cluster of shows each year at the Kentucky Fair Expo Center. I would like to give you some thoughts on how a breed profiling would impact your tourism industry and in turn your cities income.
But before I give you that information I would like to tell you a little about myself. I am a member of the American Rottweiler Club, the Medallion Rottweiler Club, and the Colonial Rottweiler Club. I am also the Medallion Rottweiler Club Legislative Liaison for the United States, the AKC (American Kennel Club) Legislative Liaison for the State of Illinois, one of 8 people on the American Rottweiler Club Legislative Committee, a member of PAIDO (Parents Against Irresponsible Dog Owners), and a Code of Ethics Rottweiler Breeder.
I am in my late 50ís and all of my life I have been around larger dogs. My parents bred, showed, and trained Collies. Throughout my married life of 26 years my husband and I have been involved in obedience training of large dogs (Samoyeds and now Rottweilers). During those years we have enjoyed showing our dogs in thousands of dog shows around the country. In the last 8 years we have also campaigned our dogs extensively each weekend in conformation shows and our dogs have been entered in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Show several times and invited to show at the Eukanuba Dog Show. Our dogs have won Best in Show, been in the top 20 Rottweiler dogs in the country, and our oldest male was the #5 U.S. Rottweiler in 2005. I have one Rottweiler that is a therapy dog and all our dogs all have numerous obedience titles and are shown in that venue also.
I tell you this because I want you to understand that dog showing is a weekly event for many of us in the sport/fancy. Last year in just the first 4 Ĺ months my husband and I spent $15,000.00 on advertisements, gasoline, meals, hotels, dog art, crafts and supplies at the show, bars, local veterinarians, not to mention the cost of the dog show entries (rental of the facility) and the payment of our in-the-ring dog handler.
In January of this year AKC finished and published a study regarding the economic contribution a dog show brings to each community. It was found that each person spends an average of $320.00 per show stay. Dog fanciers spend over $330 million a year at AKC dog shows nationwide.
I am very familiar with your city of Louisville. The 2 Louisville Kennel Club shows, the Mid Kentucky Kennel Club show and the Evansville Kennel Club Show and two specialty shows are held during the four day cluster. . Many people including myself and my husband stay at the Best Western on Brownhouse Road, the Econo Lodge, Super 8, Red Roof and the LaQuinta on Preston Highway. They also stay at the Baymont on Blairwood Road, the Candlewood Suites on Commonwealth and the one on Gardiner.
Last March during the cluster on Wednesday there were 177 dogs entered for a small specialty, Friday there were 4547 dogs entered in the Louisville KC show, plus an additional 1196 entered in the specialty program, on Saturday there were 4554 entered in the Evansville Kennel Club show, on Sunday at the Louisville KC show there were another 4547 entered with 1190 entered in the specialty division that day. (way over 16,000 entries for four days). AKC considers those numbers each day to be a LARGE show (2500 entries or above) and on an average, (for a three day cluster) at least 1,075,200 dollars for the community. This cluster is really a 4 day show and has twice as many dogs each day than the standard large show entry listed by AKC. So you can double and probably triple the above dollar amount as the economic benefit for your community. Dog shows are big business.
AKC registers nearly 1 million dogs a year and 44 million American households own dogs which translates to 74 million dogs owned in the US. AKC sanctions more than 16,000 events annually. More AKC dog shows are being televised every year adding to the increased attendance and spending in host communities. Money is also spent by exhibitors traveling companions (of which 74% of the exhibitors travel with one). It has been documented that dog owners that travel the farthest (at least 100 miles) to a dog show spend the most money.
Now I tell you this why? I tell you this because dog show people and those who travel with their dogs are very particular about where they spend their monies. If there is a breed ban in a town or breed restrictions, news travels fast in our circles. WE will not come to your area for a dog show, and we will not stop in your area when traveling. We do not feel safe with our dogs in your town regardless of whether our breed is on the list or not.
While traveling back from Texas after my sonís college graduation this year we traveled another 20 miles to not stay in a town that has breed restrictions. Our gasoline, food and lodging went to another community. We vote with our money.
I would venture to guess if you had a breed ban or breed restrictions on pit bulls (American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers, Miniature Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Boxers, Bull Mastiffs) and that grouping spans across 3 of the 7 dog groups in dog shows, numerous dog groups would boycott your town and the shows. (in just three days of the Louisville cluster that could mean 1/3 of the total of the dogs entered would not be coming to your city).
I realize that this is a long letter, but I am hoping that this information will help you to see how any type of breed legislation or profiling (dogs by height, weight, and body type) can affect a community not to mention RESPONSIBLE dog owners. Enacting this kind of legislation or ordinance tends to give the community a false sense of security.
If you must back legislation or ordinances please back legislation against IRRESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERS and place the burden of liability on ALL dog owners REGARDLESS of the breed. People need to be responsible for their actions. You should not condone actions of small toy dogs and condemn the same dog behavior in larger dogs. Breed or size honestly has nothing to do with dog safety, it is the actions of a dog owned by the owner. You must enforce the laws that you have on the books. Make penalties more stringent so people will realize their responsibilities and please be aware that outlawing breeds or making regulations (stiff insurance requirements etc) that make it impossible for families to have dogs of any breed will result in those dogs being dumped in vacant lots, forest preserves, pounds, rescue and the like. The domino effect will be devastating.
I thank you for your time. You may share this letter with the any of your colleagues. If I can be of any other help to you or you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
ARC Legislative Committee Member
MRC BSL ARC Liaison for Illinois
Member PAIDO (Parents Against Irresponsible Dog Owners)
AKC Legistlative Liaison for Illinois