At the start of this year, the City Council of Medford, Ore., proposed a ban on pit bulls on the grounds that they are a dangerous breed. Care2 member Tyler Woodard considers his pit bull, Smokey, just like his son, so he started a Care2 petition to stop such a ban in its tracks. More than 8,600 Care2 members joined his fight and, two and a half months later, the Medford Police Advisory Committee has decided that it will not recommend any dangerous-dog ordinance that target specific breeds.
As Maureen Swift, who co-chairs Medford’s Police Advisory Committee, said, such a ban “would not be enforceable in any realistic fashion.” Breed-specific legislation has therefore been declared “off the table.”
According to the Medford police, half of the 89 dog attacks in the past few years involved pit bulls. Calls for the pit bull ban rose earlier this year after residents raised concerns about dog attacks.
But banning one breed of dog would not, Swift noted, be any sort of solution as “another breed would take its place” and “you could create dangerous dogs out of breed.” Instead of a ban, the committee will be making recommendations in April for a “stair-stepped enforcement measure” that dog owners can follow. In addition, Swift has called for the creation of an “educational component … to help explain how to better manage dogs.” Such pro-active measures could include teaching children to learn about animal behavior so they can better detect warning signs. Barbara Talbert, manager of the Jackson County Animal Care and Control Center, has also suggested that the Medford City Council enact a “progressive structure for fines that could lead to a possible misdemeanor.”
Care2 member Tyler was one among a number of animal welfare activists who raised concerns about the pit bull ban when it was proposed back in January. Tyler started his Care2 petition, which quickly gained support, and others made their voices known at a meeting of the Medford Police Advisory Committee; a public hearing was also held in February.
Calling for a ban on one particular dog breed unfairly stereotypes all those dogs as violent and aggressive. That’s why more than 8,600 Care2 members took action and saw their efforts be successful. As Tyler noted in his Care2 petition, it is ultimately owners who have been irresponsible when a pit bull acts aggressively. In testing done by the American Temperament Test Society, the American Pit Bull Terrier scored 86.8 percent on their temperament rating scale, beating out the Golden Retriever, who scored 85.2 percent.
Kudos to the city of Medford and its police force for listening to animal welfare activists and so many Care2 members. While there have been recent reports that attitudes against pit bulls are softening and that some communities are calling for a repeal on pit bull bans, there are still some that are considering such laws. Consider taking action yourself and starting a Care2 petition to oppose discriminatory breed-specific legislation.
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