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June 25, 2005

Comments

OK - maybe I jumped the gun. According to an article in The Independent this morning, breed-specific regulations are currently banned by state law. Jackie Speier introduced a bill this week which would change this, allowing municipalities to enact prohibitions or other regulations specifically targeting violent breeds.

Short of banning pit bulls outright, there are other options suggested such as requiring them to be spayed/neutered, not allowing owners to keep them unsecured in backyards, etc.

Jenn

That is very interesting, typical California. Good for Jackie to take that on. To me, those dogs are so unstable, they are like loaded guns. Owners should be completely responsibility for any damage/death they inflict. There are a handful of pits around town, and one white one in particular is often off leash. Even if that dog is completely harmless, it is quite nervy of the owner to take the dog into areas with kids and where everyone else has been responsible and leashed their dogs. It is an insult to law-abiding dog owners. The neutering issue would help I think, not only with that breed, but with others. Besides, it isn't appropriate to be breeding pets on a 50X120 lot in Burlingame. But that's another issue. Wasn't the pit that attacked Diane Whipple a female? In that case, nothing would have changed the outcome.

The one that attacked Diane Whipple was female, but it was a Presa Canario, which is another breed of dog which I understand is often bred and trained specifically to fight. I think if they were to be banned, you'd want to look at a range of similar breeds.

Rover Bob

I have long been under the impression that Joe Galligan was Burlingame's own pit bull. At least, that's what I've thought after seeing him in "action" at city council meetings. Sometimes there are positives, sometimes there are negatives. Though I think his bark is often worse than his bite.

Jenn

You are right, Ian, that was a different breed, though same issue. There are probably rots and shepherds that could fall under that catagory, too. It's always amazing how dog owners come up with excuses for the dogs' behaviour no matter what. I love dogs, but this is ridiculous.

An article in today's Chronicle on the popularity of pit bulls in the Bay Area makes a few interesting points:
- Pit bulls rank No. 1 among breeds in Oakland, No. 3 in both San Francisco and Contra Costa counties and No. 6 in San Jose the article doesn't have stats for San Mateo County
- Both San Francisco and San Jose estimate that only 10% of dogs are licensed anyone know how many dogs are licensed in Burlingame?
- There's a great example of Jenn's point It's always amazing how dog owners come up with excuses? one pit bull owner in the article, after describing her dog as docile and sweet? and saying he sleeps in bed with her children, then goes on to say that he's so strong she can't walk him, and then describes an incident where he chased a cat into the neighbour's yard and killed it: "I felt really bad,'' she said, "but dogs will be dogs."

How are Burlingame's existing dog licensing laws enforced? I looked on the city website and learned that it costs $30/yr to license a dog, but didn't find any instructions on how to do so. I also didn't find any contact info for dog-related issues (e.g. dogs running loose in playground). I saw a reference to Animal Control Officers in the city bylaws, but no info anywhere on how to contact them.

Quincy

New game: Find a blog where someone doesn't rip on Joe Galligan. A smear can be managed no matter how off-topic the subject.

Jenn

Apparently Denver has somehow gotten around the "breed-specific" rules. Someone mentioned they also have some kind of contract about liabilities related to certain breeds where owners need to sign in agreement before they are allowed to own a specific type of dog. There is no home breeding allowed, and dogs need to be neutered. I feel sorry for people who are living in neighborhoods full of potentially vicious dogs, where any one of them can snap at any time. Leave a dog chained up in front of a house to be a guard dog, and it's just a matter of time before any dog develops a poor character.

Cathy Baylock

I contacted Ken White at the Peninsula Humane Society and here is what he had to say: "Hi Cathy I tried to find it but was unable to see the discussion you were referencing. FYI, licensing is directly a County matter, not a function we manage under contract; stray animal complaints should be called into our main number (340-7022) and then follow the prompts. Hope that helps!

All best!
Ken"

Pit bull

Don't you have more important things to do as a Council member Cathy?

Cathy Baylock

Pitbull,
Would you like to make a suggestion?

Angela

Pitbull, What is more important than public safety?

Jenn

It isn't stray dogs necessarily, and licensing is a joke, who does that? I'm most concerned about a proliferation of those dogs, even around here. Today I saw a new one, dragging it's 20 something male owner down the street, with three little kids along for the walk. The Humane Society has a bunch of these dogs in cages, too, at least they did a year or so ago. They are not adoptable and in many cases and are being held as "evidence" in court cases. It is truly alarming and just seems like a vicous cycle.

Jenn

By the way, "Pitbull". Such a topic was indeed an agenda item two or three years ago when a couple asked Council for permission to own three dogs, instead of the legal two, 'something about two families becoming one. I believe one of the dogs, was a pit, rescue dog. It wasn't as easy of an issue as you may like to believe. The couple prevailed by convincing the majority on the split Council that the three dogs were fenced in and safe. That's a hefty decision to bear. Imagine something happens to somebody down the road, the dog gets out and hurts someone. Is the Council responsible for allowing this family to do something technically against the law? I would have voted otherwise.

Barbara

Jenn:

If you were determine who to vote for in the next election by the "Pitbull" vote three years ago, then you would have to support the Pitbull himself, because Galligan voted NO and Baylock voted YES. In fact, if you listen to the tape, Baylock said, "If the dogs get out and hurt someone, I will accept responsibility for my decision".

Jenn

I actually remember it (perhaps wrongly) that both Baylock and Galligan voted with a third (sorry, don't remember who) in favor of the couple, but I could certainly be wrong. It was awhile ago, before the heated Pit events. In any case, I wouldn't have voted with the majority, no matter who they were. I am also fairly sure that there are many more residents who own more than three dogs and that probably wouldn't even be an issue, normally. Potentially vicious animals change the equation, though. My sister was almost killed by a supposedly well-natured Doberman about 15 years ago, un-neutered, that we had taken in to help out a breeder. I still remember the excuses, only later to find out that the dog had bitten part of an ear off another acquaintance. We often never really hear the whole stories.

Barbara

The internet is great. Jan 7, 2002 meeting. Pitbulls. Baylock voted yes along with Janney and Coffey. O'mahoney and Galligan voted NO. Oh wait, the puppets didn't follow Galligan's lead. There must be a misprint.

Thanks for that info, the internet is great. Now I'm wondering when Diane Whipple was mauled. I'm thinking around the same time? Those people had nothing but excuses, too. Remember the parfume one?

Diane Whipple was killed on 26 Jan 2001. There's a site with a lot of info on the case and the subsequent legal wrangling here.

Thanks, I'm posting part of the City of Akron municipal code provision requiring proof of insurance for certain breeds of dogs:

(6) Pay a fee and annually, between January 2 and January 20, and whenever a dog is a newly obtained register the dog with the customer service division; at the time of registration provide proof of liabilty insurance with an insurer authorized to write liabilty insurance in the state providing coverage in each occurrence, subject to limit, exclusive of interest and costs, of not less than $50,000 because of damage or bodily injury to or death of a person caused by the vicious dog and shall provide a certificate of insurance to customer service at the time the collar required by 2.25(E)(1) is obtained;

Seems like there are plenty of regulatory options (neutering, insurance, physical security/kennels, muzzles, etc) - the one thing they all have in common is that they're useless without enforcement. There's no point in having a law that says you need to provide evidence at the time of licensing if the licensing requirement is routinely ignored.

Any serious discussion about the introduction of a new law to address this problem should include a realistic plan for implementing and enforcing it.

Interesting editorial on the Pit issue today in the Daily Journal. But I'm noticing that the Daily Journal is omitting the authors of their editorials more and more often. If anyone from the paper reads this blog, perhaps they could let us know why.

There are many problems with enforcing breed specific bans on pitbulls, not the least of which is identifying them. Pit Bulls are not a recognized AKC breed. Today's pit bulls are generally traced back to American Staffordshire terriers although the fanciers are quick to tell you they aren't pit bulls. Even experts have trouble identifying what is and isn't a pitbull. I believe in San Mateo county, Peninsula Humane Society will pay residents $10.00 to have their pitbull spayed/neutered (for free). Also, they have stringent requirements for adoption of pit bulls that mandate obedience classes and home checks. It makes a lot more sense to act responsibly than to sentence a breed to death because some owners act irresponsibly.

Here's an interesting site to test your knowledge of what is and isn't a pitbull:
http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html

Jenn, our two dogs are licensed and always have been. They are pretty good about sending us reminders when we forget!

Jim

As exampled above, didn't the puppets always follow each other and that is why they were called the MMs? To make the puppet show more interesting the puppeteer who was pulling the strings varied from issue to issue!

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