During the fight over New York City’s Int. 655 (now law), Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. was one of the loudest voices opposing the law. In the hearings the Councilman painted himself as one of the staunchest defenders of New York City’s animals.
Now, two months later, Vallone is back to one of his favorite subjects: killing family dogs. In today’s New York Post, Vallone can be found scaremongering with the same tired old – and untrue – arguments. Pit bulls have “higher pain tolerance” (says who?) “stronger jaws” (many breeds have higher bite pressure including Shepherds and Rottweilers) and “refuse to submit”. Except mine, I guess.
The poorly written article also cites a discredited CDC study that even the CDC says should not be used when considering legislation and does not identify breeds more likely to bite.
I’m not sure how the Department of Health accounts for bites from “pure breed pit bulls”, because there really is no such thing. “Pit bull”, as it is commonly used, is slang for a number of breeds – it’s more of a type. It usually includes American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers, and American Bulldogs but it can include other breeds depending on who you’re talking to – it’s not uncommon to lump in some mastiffs, maybe Dogo Argentinos and Fila Brasileiros and a handful of others for good measure. So when you’re lumping together groups of breeds and counting them all as one, that inflates your numbers.
There is also no way to positively visually identify, say, an American Pit Bull Terrier. Even people who work with them every day cannot reliably identify them by eye. Unless you have a DNA test or papers from a breeder, the label means little. Newspapers, particularly, are notorious for labeling any dog that bites a “pit bull” even when the dog involved is clearly not.
Fortunately for me, New York State prohibits Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and any law the Councilman might dream up would be likely to be quickly struck down by the courts. It’s discouraging that he would want to pursue the failed policies of Denver, where their anti-pit bull BSL law has (and continues to) cost tons of money in court cases, killed thousands of family pets, and hasn’t made the city any safer.
Especially if you live here in New York City, please contact Councilman Vallone and ask him to leave our dogs alone. His time would be better spent figuring out ways to identify problem owners and prosecute those who mistreat animals and use dogs as weapons rather than condemning so many innocents.