Indianapolis Proposal Punishes Pitbulls and Low Income Owners

There has been all sorts of controversy surrounding the profiling of Pitbulls in Indianapolis under a proposed ordinance which targets the breed for mandatory neuter, among other things. The Indy Star breaks down the proposal as follows:

» Require pit bull owners to spay or neuter their dogs.
» Prohibit residents from owning more than two pit bulls more than 8 weeks old.
» Require pit bull owners to register their dogs with the city.
» Allow the city to revoke an owner’s pit bull permit if that owner mistreated the dog.
» Allow the city to require any dog it declared dangerous — usually for attacking a person or animal — to be muzzled in public.
» Allow the city to require any owner who mistreats a dog to purchase liability insurance.
» Fine the owner of any dog running loose that is not spayed or neutered.
» Restrict the ways owners can chain their dogs.

In a misguided attempt to justify a bad proposal, the article continues:

An Indianapolis Star review of dog bite data for 2008 revealed that pit bull bites soared 33 percent from the previous year and were three times higher than in 2006. Pit bulls also account for more bites and more severe bites than any other breed. Animal control officials say they often find pit bulls in the hands of neglectful owners who view them as a status symbol or, worse, train them to fight.

I suggest the Star provide its dog bite data in a complete form, including who identified the breeds involved, how many incidents were investigated, and how the severity of the bites was determined. While I may take AC at their word that they “often” find Pitbulls owned by people who neglect or fight them, I would be interested to know how “often” they find them living with responsible owners. Maybe AC doesn’t have any idea how many Pitbulls are well cared for pets because they have no reason to encounter those situations. I don’t know but it is irresponsible to report only one side of the story.

As for the proposed ordinance, I see it as not only discriminatory toward Pitbulls but also toward low income owners. Will the city provide low/no cost neuter services to those in need? If not, I can imagine a good many people would be unable to pay for neuter surgery as well as the cost of complying with the chaining provision and whatever the registration fee might be.

What will happen to owners and rescues who have more than 2 Pitbulls? They will apparently have to decide which ones to keep and which ones to rehome. If quality homes can not be found in time, presumably the city will seize the dogs. More Pitbulls at the pound. Great.

The proposal will appear on the agenda at the May 4 City County Council meeting, but will not be discussed until subsequent committee meetings. During those meetings, council members will lay out a procedure for accepting public input.

Watch this space.

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