White House: dog breed bans a bad idea

by Walter Olson on August 25, 2013

It isn’t really the federal government’s business one way or the other, but the Obama administration is at least lending moral support to the idea that animal control laws should not single out particular dog breeds as inherently ultradangerous. A court decision in Maryland establishing elevated liability for bites by pit bulls has resulted in continued pressure for pet abandonment and a resulting flow of related breeds into the animal shelter system. [Arin Greenwood, HuffPo; earlier here, here, etc.]

{ 11 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 08.25.13 at 11:46 am

We must outlaw the newest form of discrimination: breedism. Luckily Obama does not have any more important issues to worry about.

2 mtgroben 08.25.13 at 6:59 pm

Obama trivializes his office again.

3 Bumper 08.25.13 at 10:01 pm
4 Mannie 08.26.13 at 7:49 am

Blind pig finds a truffle.

5 MattS 08.26.13 at 10:12 am

Bumper,

The statistics behind that link are totally unreliable.

The only information on breed in dog bite cases relies on victim reporting of the breed with no effort to verify the accuracy the victims claim as to what breed the dog was.

Another problem with those statistics is that most of the breeds on the list are large to giant breeds or breeds with particularly strong jaws. These dogs are not necessarily more likely to bite than other breeds, but if they do bite the bites will tend towards being more serious.

6 Ron Miller 08.26.13 at 10:45 am

I think the President of the United States can offer opinions on subjects if he chooses. I think the 20 minutes he spends on it (I’m sure it as less than 5, tho) is just as important as the 20 minutes he spends greeting the women’s NCAA volleyball champions.

Do we really want to limit a president’s voice to things that only have federal ramifications?

Bumper, do you think the issue just might be more complicated that that? There are people who think the president in wrong about this but they don’t think it is simple as statisitcs you site from puppytoob.com. Do you really think the problem is his staffers just couldn’t find this link?

Sometimes, to the man with a hammer, everything is a nail.

7 Scott 08.26.13 at 2:02 pm

@MattS

“Another problem with those statistics is that most of the breeds on the list are large to giant breeds or breeds with particularly strong jaws. These dogs are not necessarily more likely to bite than other breeds, but if they do bite the bites will tend towards being more serious.”

That’s not a problem with the study but the whole point. A dog enthusiast pointed out to me once that chihuahuas are pretty nasty dogs. Gosh I don’t remember reading about any deadly chihuahua attacks in my local paper.

8 Walter Olson 08.26.13 at 3:26 pm

Scott>I don’t remember reading about any deadly chihuahua attacks in my local paper.

Unless you count the ones carried out by Senators and journalists….

9 Bumper 08.27.13 at 12:32 am

MattS & Ron,
I just hosted a July 4th celebration for approx. 15,000 of my closest friends. The ONLY trouble we had the whole evening was when a pit bull attacked a boxer for no apparent reason. Had it been a child the results would have been much worse. Coroners keep very good records on the cause of death. The stats may or may not be perfect, but they are within my own professional experience with people who have been attacked by dogs. I have friends who own pit bulls. They all admit that as a breed they often go off the reservation for no apparent reason, but quickly add, “not my dog.” The difference is the power and ferocity. So you can slice it and dice it anyway you want, the bottom line is still a higher percentage of “do bad things” dogs are pit bulls.

But if you like those stats try these:
http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2012.php

“38 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2012. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 600 U.S. cities, pit bulls contributed to 61% (23) of these deaths. Pit bulls make up less than 5% of the total U.S. dog population.”

There is more, much more, and with citations.

Scott,
Actually chihuahuas can wreak havoc, as you go jogging by they will start with the incessant yapping and while you are trying to access the situation they will encircle your ankles with their leash and “boom” down you go. The embarrassment is worse than the road rash.

10 Ron Miller 08.27.13 at 10:08 am

“…a higher percentage of “do bad things” dogs are pit bulls.”

I don’t disagree. Where there is debate is the cause and what to do about it.

11 wfjag 08.27.13 at 6:03 pm

@ Ron:

“Do we really want to limit a president’s voice to things that only have federal ramifications?”

Actually, I believe that the answer is “Yes”. The President is the head of the Executive Branch of the federal government. It isn’t his job (and he doesn’t have to time) to worry about who cleans the streets, whether a city or state should ban dog breeds or if dogs should get one bite, or whether a person, without ID who is trying to break into (what it turns out is the house he is renting) is entitled to act like a jerk to the cop who investigates (because it turns out he is a Professor and so entitled to deference that the unwashed masses are not), or whether a local possible crime should be magnified to national importance because the alleged perp’s ethnic background is changed into something no one has ever heard of before, or on whether local crimes involving black on white, black on black, white on black, etc., involve something more than local and state concerns (absent some evidence that the local police and DAs are, in fact, discriminating and the local US Attorneys aren’t dealing with that).

In other words, I am interest in whether the US should take military action against Syria and may do so; whether the best approach to the deficit and budget is spending cuts, program consolidations, tax increases and/or more borrowing, or if you’re dealing with interstate or international criminal operations (so that local and state officials cannot deal with them without help). These are federal issues. The trouble with dealing with local issues, is that what happens when the President fails to say “My Granddad looked like Shorty Benton and also was a WWII vet”?

It is time for the President (and this one isn’t the only one or first one who weighted into local and state issues) to confine him/her self to being the Chief of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, and remind people that they have local and state officials to address (more quickly and less expensively) local and state issues. Yes, I am concerned about crime in my town, but, I don’t think that the President should be. And, if the local or state officials do not effectively respond, it takes a lot fewer votes to change who is elected.

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