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Debates rise concerning county pit bull ban

Discussion in 'Laws & Legislation' started by Marty, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. Marty

    Marty Banned

    Gaithersburg, MD -- Two weeks ago, Hyattsville resident Cynthia Way had a frightening encounter with dogs she believed to be pit bulls.

    Way and her family were walking home with their two dogs one night after visiting a friend. Noticing a man sitting on the sidewalk with a dog at his side, the family crossed the street. Suddenly, two other dogs came out and attacked one of Way’s leashed dogs.

    The owner, Way said, remained seated with the third dog at his side as Way struggled to pull her dog up the stairs to a neighbor’s porch away from the dogs.

    ‘‘I was screaming to him, ‘Come get your dogs!' He just sat there and watched,” Way said.

    The two dogs backed off but then turned their attention to Corinne Rothblum, who was walking down the street, Way said.

    The dogs, including the one that had been seated next to the man, surrounded Rothblum, snarling and growling, she said.

    ‘‘I began shouting, ‘Are these your dogs? Can you get them under control?’” Rothblum said speaking to the owner, still sitting on the curb.

    ‘‘I really didn’t believe one of them was going to bite me,” she said.

    But one of the dogs, which were all later identified as a German shepherd-Rottweiler mix, bit Rothblum in the back of her leg while the owner sat 20 feet away, she said.

    Steel, one of the dogs that attacked, had bitten before. As a penalty for the first attack, the owner was required to have the dog microchipped, post signs on his property warning of a vicious dog and the dog was to be muzzled and leashed when outdoors, according to Animal Control. After the Sept. 12 attack, Steel was euthanized. The other two dogs are in custody with Animal Control until a hearing next month. The owner could lose the dogs and may have to pay up to $400 in fines.

    Despite the harrowing experience, Way and Rothblum are both in favor of ending the pit bull ban Prince George’s County passed in 1996.

    ‘‘The ban on pit bulls doesn’t take care of the problem,” Way said. ‘‘The problem is with the owner.”

    The new legislation aims to lift the county’s pit bull ban and would enact a $1,000 penalty for vicious dog owners with the possibility of jail time.

    The measure, sponsored by County Councilman Thomas R. Hendershot (D-Dist. 3) of New Carrollton, is expected for consideration by the Prince George’s County Council in the next few weeks. The bill was voted out of committee without the usual recommendation in support or opposition.

    Council members will weigh how effective the ban is at improving public safety and the cost to enforce it.

    M.H. ‘‘Jim” Estepp, who was the District 9 council member when the original bill passed, said the measure was prompted by a series of pit bull attacks in the 1990s. ‘‘The feeling was these dogs were being bred specifically to fight and injure,” he said.

    ‘‘[Isaac] Gourdine was very passionate about it,” said Estepp of the late District 8 councilman who led the legislation.

    Hendershot’s position against the breed-specific ban is based largely on the findings of the Vicious Animal Legislative Task Force commissioned by the previous council to investigate the ban’s impact. The group found the policy to be inefficient and costly.

    A recent audit of the costs connected to impounding and euthanizing the county’s pit bull population found the regulation generated $30,510 in revenue for 2003-2004 from licenses and permits, while costing the county $681,978.

    Despite the cost, Estepp said the county should weigh opposition from the Department of Environmental Resources and the Prince George’s County police heavily. Both departments favor stronger penalties for owners of vicious dogs but also want the pit bull ban to stay in tact.

    ‘‘If the experts are saying that this is a breed being used by those ill-intended, we have to listen to the experts. The principal function of government is to protect the public, and you’re not going to be able to specifically recoup the cost of public safety services,” Estepp said. ‘‘That’s why we have taxes.”

    A letter from Donna M.P. Wilson, the director of Department of Environmental Resources, which oversees the Animal Control Division, stated, ‘‘A breed-specific ban will not address all of the problems Prince George’s County has with vicious animals ... Pit bull terriers are the breed of choice for those citizens and residents who participate in illegal enterprises such as gang activity, dog fighting, gambling and drug dealing ...Lifting the ban will likely create an untenable enforcement situation.”

    But dog advocates assert that people involved in criminal activity will simply train another type of dog to be vicious.

    ‘‘The whole problem is this law addresses what a dog looks like instead of what a dog does,” said Adrianne Lefkowitz, president of the Maryland Dog Federation. ‘‘Dogs don’t understand the laws, the owner does.”

    Even with increased penalties for owners of vicious dogs, Way said, the bill should address liability on the dog owner for medical expenses, and first-time offenders should be required to attend dog training with their pet. Repeat offenders, she said, should not be permitted to own any more dogs.

    County Councilman Tony Knotts (D-Dist. 8) of Temple Hills acknowledged the bill still needs work. ‘‘There are still some unclear points that CB-10 needs to address in order for it to pass scrutiny,” he said. ‘‘You can’t group dogs in the same family and assume that if one is bad they are all bad. That’s the impasse that I think many of us are at right now.”
  2. miakoda

    miakoda GRCH Dog

    The dogs weren't even pit bulls? Amazing how the media can corrupt anything. And personally, I'd like to punch the lady in the face for saying they were & calling the media just to make sure she got her 15 min. of fame............
  3. ghost 1

    ghost 1 CH Dog

    thats the problem now days if it resembles a pit then it must be,,, they don't even have a clue what a pit bull is,THIS IS WHAT IS KILLING OUR BREED,,,
  4. jawbones

    jawbones Top Dog

    people like this sometimes makes me ashamed i'm human
  5. pulldoginks

    pulldoginks Banned

    That so very true. I hate the B.S. games the media likes to play.

    You know in the 80's Doberman's we're the bad guys the 90's Rottweilers now Pit Bulls It is a vicious cycle of fear in the mind of the close minded.
  6. once again it comes dpwn to owner education that guy who owned them pits sounded like a real asshole, i mean if my pit bull ever attacked someone or another dog id be chasing her down the street, pulling her off of whatever she was attacking and have her checked out at the vet, find out why she snapped and have her euthanized if neccessary, it sounds like that gut owned those pits only to attack and that is wrong!
  7. miakoda

    miakoda GRCH Dog

    Ilovepitbulls, they weren't even pit bulls! They were mixed breed dogs & were told so by the owner.
  8. rocksteady

    rocksteady I'll drink to that..

    Cant we focus on the postive side of the issue now?? People who were probably FOR the pit bull ban in the first place have learned the hard way that banning a specific breed of dog isnt going to solve problems!!

    This is actually a GREAT news article!!! It shows just how STUPID Bans on APBTs really are..not to mention how the a.c. cannot enforce its OWN rules where a dog that had bitten was suppsoed to be muzzled and leashed..yet the owner not only failed to do that, just sat there and watched ;)
  9. ghost 1

    ghost 1 CH Dog

    thats what i was saying,,,90% of the time its a dog that looks like a pitbull and they assume it so to be,,,, ppl like that is what is damning our breed ,,, most of the time they don't know what it is ,,, just looks like a pitbull,, ppl voted for bush again hell that says enough,,,lmao

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