Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All about money? Saginaw BSL not an outright ban

Yesterday, I posted about an ordinance being considered by the Saginaw City Council to ban 10 dog breeds.
I did a little more digging this morning and discovered it's not an outright ban of the breeds, but breed specific legislation all the same.
The BSL being discussed, according to AKC, to would require anyone owning one of the breeds to pay a $50 registration fee, place a warning sign on their property and muzzle their dog while in public places. Another proposal would limit all residents to owning no more than three dogs.
The breeds on the list, which the AKC believes will be declared "dangerous", are: Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Great Danes, St. Bernards, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, pit bulls and Presa Canarios.
So what is this legislation really about? It's hard to fathom that it's about safety with the long, unusual list of breeds singled out.
Personally, I think it's all about money. A $50 registration fee for every dog on that list? Well, I'd say they designed that list based on the fee, honestly. There probably wouldn't be enough money raised by requiring the fee for pit bulls and Rottweilers alone, which are the two breeds usually discriminated against with bans, so perhaps the council added a bunch of other breeds hoping people wouldn't question the "dangerous nature" of dogs like St. Bernards and Great Danes and just along with it. They widened their circle of discrimination, I think, for a bigger payoff.
Going back to yesterday's statements about this being a case-and-point of how BSL is a slippery slope, the idea that this ordinance may be largely motivated by money makes this slope even scarier.
Could we, as local governments all over our state struggle with their finances, see more of this type of crap? Is it feasible that a community could decide to charge each dog-owning resident an additional fee just for owning the dog?
In dire economic times like these, anything is possible.
The only way to combat this slippery slope is to make your voice heard. Tell your community officials, your representatives in both the state and federal government that breed specific legislation is unnecessary, unwanted and unacceptable. And while you're at it, drop a line to those Saginaw council members too (visit the links below for contact information).
According to information being reported on this Saginaw ordinance, the breeds chosen are those on the CDC's top 10 most dangerous breeds list. This is crap. The CDC no longer tracks bite data by breed in large part because of how the data was being misconstrued by BSL advocates. Do a Google search for "CDC 10 most dangerous dogs." Skip past all the blogs and BSL advocates that come up as the top search results and look for the actual CDC website. The page I was brought to was about bite prevention, I could find absolutely nothing on the "Top 10 most dangerous breeds" but I did find this:

"A CDC study on fatal dog bites lists the breeds involved in fatal attacks over 20 years (Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998 Adobe PDF file). It does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic. Each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities; about 0.0002 percent of the total number of people bitten. These relatively few fatalities offer the only available information about breeds involved in dog bites. There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.
Many practical alternatives to breed-specific policies exist and hold promise for preventing dog bites. For prevention ideas and model policies for control of dangerous dogs, please see the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions: A community approach to dog bite prevention Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon. *"

Maybe someone should let Saginaw officials in on the CDC's stance regarding BSL since they're trying to use CDC data as the reason to enforce BSL anyhow.

Here's a news report from a local TV station on the issue:

Read more about this topic
American Kennel Club, Saginaw, MI Seeks to Restrict Ten Large Dog Breeds
Pets and Other Critters Blog, Picking on the big dogs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dog Bite Fact Sheet
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dog Bite Prevention
City of Saginaw, City council homepage and contact information for council members, Poll: Do you favor Saginaw's proposed 'dangerous dogs' ordinance


  1. Quite so, it is not a ban but a punishment tax for a breed deemed dangerous. Who deems it thus? As I discussed in my blog, it is a list of dogs seemingly plucked out of someone's...well, you know.

    Karen is right. Speak up people! Government is supposed to work for us NOT abuse us. This Saginaw fiasco is an example of Government's abuse of power.

  2. I am disturbed to again hear these ancient CDC stats being used as justification to discriminate against dog breeds. People like to tout these statistics, but completely disregard the CDC's own disclaimers about how the statistics shouldn't be used as evidence to support BSL. Also forgotten? The fact that the CDC has stopped compiling breed-specific data as it relates to bites and fatalities. The last study concluded in 1998 — that's 13 years ago now — and the breed data hasn't been collected since then.

  3. It is stunning to the honorable but alas, not surprising when someone cites out of date, unrelated, or invented statistics that favor their postion. In this case it is an attempt to justify blatant prejudice against certain dog breeds and their owners.

    Thanks for bringing out the actual CDC data, Karen.