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Editorial: Put down breed-specific laws
City officials will recommend that the Oak Harbor City Council repeal the city’s breed specific legislation that automatically designates pit bulls as “potentially dangerous dogs” warranting specific restrictions. It’s a good idea to abandon the section of city code for many reasons, not the least of which is the practicality of enforcing the rule. As the Humane Society points out, it can be difficult to identify a dog’s breed, especially when dealing with mutts.
The city’s current ordinance was adopted in 2006 and actually softened the language regarding pit bulls, changing them from dangerous to potentially dangerous. It was understandable that city leaders wanted to protect the public from a breed that seemed to pose a greater danger than most. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a small survey that found pit bulls and Rottweilers don’t bite people more than other breeds, but they account for more than half of the fatal dog attacks. It could be because those two breeds are strong dogs with powerful jaws, or it could be that people tend to identify really mean dogs as pit bulls. Most likely, people like Michael Vick mistreat pit bulls in order to make them aggressive.
Whatever the reason, the CDC, the American Medical Veterinary Association, the American Kennel Club, the Humane Society and the city’s insurance pool all advocate against breed-specific legislation. They all agree that there should be strong laws that protect the public from any dog that is aggressive.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the issue, and probably take action, during the regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. It’s undeniably a touchy issue. The city has received impassioned comments from people on both sides of the issue. Anyone who wants to add their two cents should attend the meeting.