A lot of news regarding Breed Specific Legislation this week, but first, a great story of brains and brawn working together . . .
How Brains Saved Brawn
Drivers and pedestrians watched with apprehension last week as two young pit bulls slowly struggled through a busy intersection in West Palm Beach, Florida. One of the two, an emaciated brindle male puppy dragging a 20 pound chain around his neck, stumbled as he walked and frequently stopped.
Bystanders reported he could barely lift his head and walk. Fortunately, his companion, a black female, stayed with him. She waited for him when he stopped and nudged him to get up and continue forward, carefully guiding him through traffic.
Two construction workers stopped to pick up the pit bulls and took them to a nearby shelter, where they were named "Brains" and "Brawn." It is believed the dogs escaped from an abusive environment, as they were found near a neighborhood known for dog fighting and because oversized chains like the one Brawn was wearing are frequently used as a "conditioning tool" by people training dogs to fight.
While Brawn requires treatment for heartworm and malnutrition, the dogs did not appear to have been psychologically damaged by their upbringing. Shelter workers reported that both were friendly toward humans and other animals. They were still in danger of being euthanized, however, as only one shelter in South Florida accepts pit bulls and that was not where the pit bull puppies had been taken.
Fortunately, the West Palm Beach shelter notified Kay-Lynette Roca, the founder of Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill shelter that does accept pit bulls. Brains and Brawn were transferred to Safe Harbor's state-of-the-art, charitable veterinary hospital, before being taken to the sanctuary's newly-opened 28 acre ranch. Roca has stated that the two dogs are clearly best friends and will only be placed in a home where they can stay together.
If you're interested in adopting Brains and Brawn, or making a donation for their medical care, call (561) 747-5311 or visit the sanctuary's website.
Breed Specific Legislation: The Battle Continues
A lot of news regarding BSL lately, some good, some bad. Sioux City, Iowa seemed set to lift their ban on pit bulls and "pit bull types" but at Monday's city council meeting, the ban was upheld by a 3-2 vote.
Even before the vote, Mayor Mike Hobart, who initially supported the ban but has since changed his mind, said "I think that there are two councilmen who haven't heard all the facts as we did when we went to the hearings in council." Sadly, it turned out there were three members who didn't have all the facts, but at least some minds have been changed, and hopefully the next vote will come soon and have a better outcome.
Also on the downside, Denmark's new law banning 13 breeds of dogs, including pit bulls, goes into effect on July 1. This law flies in the face of recent studies in Europe (discussed in detail in the linked article) demonstrating the ineffectiveness--and in some places, outright counterproductiveness--of breed specific bans. Fortunately, other countries in Europe seem to be reversing the BSL trend.
Back in the USA, Topeka Helping Hands Humane Society executive director Stacy Hensiek is leading the charge to change the BSL in Topeka to a more informed law. Later this summer, the Topeka city council will vote on replacing their current BSL--centered on pit bulls, as usual--with tighter regulations for dogs that have individually proven to be dangerous, while no longer targeting any specific breeds.
"I have a pit bull, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with this breed of dog," said Hensiek, adding that the pit bull regulations lead to overflowing shelters, increasing the risk of euthanasia for all dogs.
Assistant City Attorney Kyle Smith also favors changing the law. Smith said the Topeka animal control unit has been over budget an average of about $27,000 a year for the past decade, with the vast majority of those overruns being caused by the unit's needing to pay for the confinement of dogs suspected of being pit bulls.
"These are not dogs that exhibited vicious behavior," he said. "They're just running loose or otherwise in violation of our breed-specific ordinances."
Let's hope the city council in Topeka proves more enlightened than politicians in Sioux City and Denmark.