Great news in Ohio: The city of Garfield Heights has successfully repealed their obsolete ban on "pitbull-type" dogs in favor of more effective breed-neutral policies that are based on modern best-practices for preventing and reducing serious dog bite-related incidents. On January 28, the Garfield Heights City Council repealed the ban (which was enacted in 2007) in a majority 6-1 vote and ended the ineffective and discriminatory policy that banned dogs based only on their appearance or breed. The ban, or breed specific legislation (BSL), is being replaced with behavior-based, breed-neutral regulations that are more effective and more equitable because they address all potentially dangerous dogs, all irresponsible dog owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations - regardless of a dog's appearance or breed. Furthermore, repealing BSL puts Garfield Heights into compliance with Ohio state law which prohibits breed-specific ordinances and therefore exposes cities with BSL in Ohio to legal action and lawsuits. Congratulations to the City Council and the residents of Garfield Heights for improving public safety by repealing BSL - Garfield Heights joins a list of 10+ cities that have recently repealed BSL and are taking a decisive stand against ineffective policies and long-debunked myths and stereotypes about pitbull-type dogs.
Several key reasons why the trend against BSL is strong and enjoys robust public support:
Regardless of any personal opinions about specific breeds (or types) of dogs, multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded that BSL is an ineffective public safety policy and that any risk associated with pitbull-type dogs is fully in-line with other strong breed dogs of similar sizes and strengths; therefore, breed-specific policies are scientifically unfounded and not grounded in science, facts, or expert information. So it's really no surprise that when BSL is challenged by informed citizens and public officials, BSL is often repealed and replaced with stronger and more effective breed-neutral regulations that address all dangerous dogs, all irresponsible owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations - regardless of a dog's appearance or breed. A big congratulations to Garfield Heights and the 10+ cities and towns that have repealed BSL since 2018!
The American Bar Association urges all state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and governmental agencies to adopt comprehensive breed-neutral ... laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs, and to repeal any breed discriminatory or breed specific provisions.
Recent dog bite-related incident data confirms that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue; furthermore, the data validates what multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded such as breed does not determine risk and that safety is not a breed-specific issue. In fact, since only 2016, at least 28 different breeds and mixed breeds have been involved in fatal dog attacks (listed in Table 1 below) including: Akita, Belgian Malinois, Boxer, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Husky, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Rottweiler, and many others. While every serious dog bite-related incident is tragic, the number and variety of breeds implicated in fatal dog attacks is clear evidence that these incidents are not a breed-specific issue.
The dog bite-related fatality (DBRF) data for JAN/2016 through DEC/2018 confirms that:
Table 1 - Breeds involved in fatal dog attacks between JAN/2016 and DEC/2018 include:
(in alphabetical order, references to news sources with breed information provided in Table 2 below)
Table 2 - Incident date, breed(s) involved, location, and sources for the breeds listed in Table 1:
(excluding pitbull-type dogs, see "Notes" below)
The data, scientific studies, and risk rates all confirm that serious dog bite-related incidents are not a breed-specific issue. For canine regulation, it is important to understand the differences between the two major forms of regulation - Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and Breed Neutral Legislation (BNL). BSL is a limited, single-factor, appearance-based approach while BNL is a comprehensive, multifactorial, behavior-based approach. For public safety, BSL imposes regulations on a minority of dogs based only on their appearance or breed (regardless of a dog's behavior or responsible ownership) while breed-neutral regulations address all potentially dangerous dogs, all irresponsible owners, and all unsafe dog-related situations - regardless of a dog's appearance or breed. Consequently, multiple peer-reviewed studies have concluded that BSL is ineffective; furthermore, it is a discriminatory trend in decline evidenced by the vast majority (98%) of cities and towns that use breed-neutral regulations as their primary and only form of regulation because of the many advantages of breed-neutral regulations summarized on our Breed Legislation page.
Breed specific ordinances have proven ineffective in reducing the ... number of dog bites. Breed Specific Legislation ... has generally been discredited in actual experience of cities, professionals and academic research as being both ineffective and expensive.
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