New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. Wants My Dogs Dead

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.

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  • Sandi

    Message sent to Peter Vallone 🙂

  • Susan

    Sent one to him, too, (and to the NY Post) even though I’ve never owned a dog (or cat for that matter) in my life.

  • I live in MA and while thankfully Boston doesn’t ban pit bulls, they do make you pay more for a license ($50 versus $7 for other dogs) and they have a muzzle requirement whenever the dog is off your personal property.

    I don’t currently own a dog but will be adopting from a shelter sometime in the next probably year or so (after we finish some disruptive renovations at home) and given the amount of pit types in shelters, I’m more than likely to bring one home.

    This kind of scaremongering and ridiculous un-truthfulness in the media really makes me utterly insane. What I really don’t get is that the facts are readily available if the parties doing the scaring actually cared to look at them. Last time I heard there were many breeds higher on the list of number of bites than pit bulls. And anyone with any semblence of intelligence should be able to recognize that it’s ALWAYS the owner’s fault when there is a problem, NEVER the dog’s. Not to mention the fact that saying “all” of a dog breed (and as you point out, in this case, it’s not even a breed) is a certain way is the same as saying all of a certain type of people are a certain way. Really very stupid.

  • Terri Davison

    Pit bulls are dangerous! Mine regularly whips me in the shins with her wagging tail! She lays at my feet while I cook, causing a tripping hazard! She might suffocate me one day with her enthusiastic kisses! She hogs the blanket on the bed so I might catch cold! Dangerous, I say!

    • Hey Terri
      That was great 🙂
      Love your comment.

  • Babs (Arizona)

    First, let us stand up and applaud New York state for prohibiting Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). This Councilman is out of line. Is he up for re-election? Pit bull type dogs are the most loving dogs I have ever adopted, and I have three of them. Have you ever seen a cat chase a pit? I have, my cat does that. Anyone who has a pit, please consider getting that dog trained and tested for the CGC. It’s an AKC test that certifies the dog is a safe dog, and helps with insurance and getting into rentals with the dog. I don’t live in New York, so my contacting the Councilman won’t do any good.

  • Howard Wu

    Hi John,

    You’ve been an advocate for pit bull type dogs for a while and I am a fan. I just this posting from today (4pm, Jan 17, 2012) on Peter Vallone’s facebook page and thought you would be interested. It scares me what a “Dangerous Dog Board” would do…

    Peter Vallone, “as most of my animal lover friends know, i’ve been fighting for years to have the mayor re-establish the “dangerous dog board” to advise the city on animal policy. well he finally is and there are still 2 open positions, one for an animal trainer, and one for a member of the public. if you’re interested fax a letter and resume to and i will recommend the most qualified (pls dont tell me youre interested or ask questions here on facebook, email for a response)”


  • jbsibley

    Unfortunately, I believe Mr. Vallone is well aware of my opinion of him and I can’t imagine he’d recommend me. 🙂