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Best Friend's Animal Sanctuary
Dangerous Dog Summit
Randi Bolton ©
TheDogPlace.org October 2006
/ On October 27 - 29,
2006, I took the plunge and attended the "emergency" Dangerous Dog
Summit, sponsored by Best Friend's Animal Sanctuary (BFAS) held in
Lakewood, CO which lies in the shadow of Denver, CO and its breed
ban. Prior to attending the summit, I received numerous emails about
BFAS but attended the summit with an open mind.
Here is my summary of the 2.5 day summit:
One word -
On the evaluation I turned in, I was very honest
and let them know I could not support their efforts because of their
thoughts on potential model-dog legislation and their 3-point
national initiative. (*See Below) I feel that the AKC, UKC,
national & local breed clubs, any person who loves their dogs and
wants to have the right to keep them, need to band together to
develop our own initiative for model-dog legislation to counter what
BFAS will be proposing. BFAS has lots of backing, both from
volunteers as well as funders, and is very well organized. They are
approaching this like a political campaign and actually have two
very experienced campaigners in their ranks (Joe Trippi and John
The folks from BFAS talked about compromise but when we broke up
into discussion groups and started talking about potential
legislative points, the BFAS folks kept pushing their initiatives,
especially breeder/breeding regulations. It was my impression that
they have no intentions of compromising on any of their initiatives.
Debbie Stafford - from Denver - did an impromptu visit. I
spoke with her after her speech and offered my assistance to her in
fighting the breed ban in Denver, if she is re-elected. She had some
1) focus on
a single state where you know you have a good chance of winning
"dangerous dog" to "irresponsible owner" legislation
consequences (fines, jail time) for people involved in illegal
activities or have had a dog they own bite/attack, etc. (depending
on the circumstances)
Key takeaways (I won't go into my opinions on these as I believe all
or most of us share the same opinions):
up other type of legislation as an alternative to BSL
(breed-specific legislation), such as breeder/breeding restrictions,
anti-tethering laws (does the name Tammy Grimes ring a bell? Yes,
Ms. Grimes attended as a guest speaker. Her motivation behind
anti-tethering laws is that she was bitten by a tethered dog)
breeder/breeding restrictions - didn't get into specifics - did
mention mandatory registration of breeders and licensing. (called
them "exploitive" breeders). Sounds good on the surface for
curtailing BYB, puppy mills but this one really scared me
dogs as part of the family and nothing more - the BFAS person went
on to talk about the "cruelty" of dog events. No more dog shows -
conformation or performance, folks!
guardian language in any type of animal ordinances, do away with dog
"ownership"; elevating animals, specifically dogs, to the same level
public service announcements (no focal point at this time) - talked
about educating the public about safety around dogs
mandatory temperament testing
mandatory spay/neuter - any dogs that were not registered breeding
dogs would fall into this requirement. Gee, I guess those of us that
show in conformation but don't breed would either have to get a
breeder's license or stop showing and spay/neuter our dogs.
the Brandenburg Edict (** See Below) - this was coming from
BFAS's attorney - he evaded the issue of the breed specific language
as well as the height/weight restrictions. If you haven't read the
Brandenburg Edict, you need to. Close to 20 breeds are automatically
classified as dangerous dogs as are any dog over 15 inches or
weighing more that 44 pounds.
It amazed me that the premise of this summit was for good, sane,
well-written, enforceable breed-neutral dog ordinances and yet BFAS
came up with all these points that support breed-specific dog
legislation. Several points they want to propose are subjective
("exploitive" breeder, temperament testing, aggression) and may be
hard to define.
Michael Mountain, president and founder of BFAS, talked about a
recent poll they did. In one question, (can't remember the phrasing)
the result was that breeders are responsible and should be held
accountable for the actions of dogs they have bred. Another question
indicated by almost 70% that owners were responsible for dog bites
and attacks; less than 20% felt the breeder was responsible for the
dog's actions. The questions seemed to contradict each other. The
poll is the basis for many of the points BFAS wants to include in
their national initiative for dog legislation. I searched BFAS'
website and was unable to find the poll.
Many of the guest speakers quoted CDC statistics in supporting their
views. None of them acknowledged that the CDC does not support using
their statistics for developing dog legislation and even admits to
the inaccuracy of the data.
There was a tremendous focus on gang violence and dog fighting by
gang members. I pointed out that in Colorado and many other states,
that yes, dog fighting by gang members may be a factor, but they
also had to look at the cultural issues - in certain cultures, dog
fighting is a part of life. Dog fighting is legal in several states
and, though I am against dog fighting, until it is banned, there is
little that can be done legally. Several people pointed out that
it's not the dog-fighting dogs that are biting; it's the family pets
that have been improperly (or not) trained and socialized.
BFAS spent time commenting about Denver, its breed ban and the
number of pitties murdered here. However, they spent no time calling
out other cities that have breed bans and have murdered as many if
not more pitties than Denver. A shelter worker from Ohio indicated
that, so far this year, they have put down over 2,000 pitties in his
city. And, this is WITH a state-wide law declaring Pit Bulls as
BFAS is planning to build this into a grassroots movement - they
have over 300K members so the effort will be huge. They are
supported by prominent attorneys, legislators, people who
investigate dog bite fatalities (Jim Crosby), ACOs.
I believe most of the information from the summit will be posted to
their website. BFAS has a network community (basically blogs) and
they are encouraging people to join, comment, support their efforts
at breed-specific dog legislation.
People warned me before going to this summit but I never thought it
would be this frightening! BFAS picked the perfect weekend for this
summit (Halloween weekend.)
model-dog legislation and their 3-point national initiative
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