City Councilor Bill Eddy and his pit bull ordinance
By Pam Toomey
I am writing because as a owner of a pit bull I will be directly affected Worcester City Councilor Bill Eddy’s pit bull ordinance. I am hoping you can help me to get the word out that this is an unfair ordinance and that pit bulls are a very misunderstood breed. A little positive publicity and education of these wonderful dogs could do wonders.
My dog Carly is a perfect example of how great these dogs can be. I adopted her about 6 months ago after a failed attempt at fostering pit bulls. She is extremely sweet, gentle and the most understanding, want to please dogs I have ever met. It is no doubt to me that this is exactly what made the breed American Staffordshire Terriers so popular. Carly came into my life when I needed her most. I am a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and have been diagnosed with PTSD as a result. Since I have separated from the military in 2008 I have had problems adjusting to civilian life, regaining lost confidence and finding a way to do something meaningful for my fellow vets. Carly has helped me gain my confidence, I am more at ease when she is around. I know Carly is there for me, with me, through thick and thin, unconditionally like my old fellow soldiers were, a trait that is hard to find in the civilian world. Carly is currently in obedience training, soon to test to be Canine Good Citizen Certified. Once we complete that we will go through training and testing to be a certified therapy team. We will then do what we can for my fellow vets therapeutically. What better type of dog to do so with men and woman, hard as hell on the outside, but soft as can be on the inside, and often very misunderstood.
With the new legislation how am I to socialize Carly with a muzzle on? How will we do any good therapeutically with a muzzle on?
Councilor Eddy made a point when citing two news stories that were printed February 23 in the article detailing the ordinance, they were off leash. It seems we have a problem enforcing the mandatory leash law. Those that do not leash their dogs are clearly irresponsible owners. I have a hard time believing that these irresponsible owners would muzzle their dogs too, or that they even register them. Which brings me to another point, how can Councilor Eddy confidently state that only 2% of the cities dogs are pit bulls? Again, irresponsible owners probably do not register their dogs, making this statistic inaccurate.
Muzzling dogs based on a breed is wrong and unfair to those that have no aggression issues. It is the same as racism, and incarcerating an entire race because some of them are violent. In fact the city of Lynn which had a similar ordinance found that it was unconstitutional. Many other cities and countries that tried to use Breed Specific Legislation to control aggressive dogs have found them ineffective and overturned them.
Any dog is capable of being trained to be violent, unfortunately it is pit bulls that are the popular breed right now. Once these owners realize they will have to muzzle their intimidation tool they will turn to a new breed. Will we continue to keep adding dogs to the list of those that have to be muzzled? It seems a better solution would be to punish the owners.
Also, pit bull is a look of dog, it is not a breed. There are many breeds of dogs that resemble a pit bull, and many mixed breeds that have the look in them. How can we punish a look rather than behavior? If you look up what a pit bull is on the internet it will show you 14 or so breeds that fit the pit bull look. This law will put more breeds in muzzle’s than what the public understands. It will be based purely on what the accusor thinks a pit bull looks like.
I ask that you encourage your readers. This legislation will only instill more fear in people when it comes to these wonderful breeds. This law starts with pit bulls but will only make it easier for additional breeds to be added to the list. We need to punish who is truly responsible for this problem and that is the owner of dogs.
Lastly, Councilor Eddy stated that he is going to push this through with out a public hearing. It seems only fair and right to hear what the residents of Worcester feel about the issue before passing the law.