BEST FRIENDS, POLITICAL TERRORISTS
Undercover report on Best Friends agenda of dog breeder and ownership restrictions as in Denver's infamous breed specific legislation Breed Ban.
Best Friend's Dangerous Dog Summit
Randi Bolton, ARC (American Rottweiler Club), AKC Legislative Liaison, October 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 is in the shadow of Denver's deadly 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 - scary.
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 Best Friends Animal Society is proposing.
BFAS has lots of backing 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 (Democratic strategist who worked for Jerry Brown, CA Governor) and John Hinko.
The folks from Best Friends Society 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 great ideas:
Key takeaways (I won't go into my opinions on these as I believe all or most of us share the same opinions):
It amazed me that the premise of this summit was for good, sane, well-written, enforceable breed-neutral dog ordinances and yet Best Friends Animal Society 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 Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, 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 poll question indicated 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.
Best Friends summit 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 pit bulls than Denver. A shelter worker from Ohio indicated that, so far this year, they have put down over 2,000 pit bulls in his city. And, this is WITH a state-wide law declaring Pit Bulls as dangerous dogs.
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! Best Friends Animal Sanctuary picked the perfect weekend for this summit (Halloween weekend.)
(**) Brandenburg Edict (editor's note: this refers to an obscure proposed piece of ancient, foreign legislation having nothing to do with dogs. It is a wild-goose chase perpetuated by gung-ho animal rights people, most of whom who are only parroting something stupid in order to sound informed. Mr. Bolton does not fit that category, he only quoted what Best Friends is promoting.
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