The High Cost of BSL!

Posted on 06/01/2009


The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary wrote an article about breed-specific banning. In a nutshell it does not work. Help defeat BSL in your town.

BSL is bad for dogs and people.

Ami Moore, NICE

The High Costs of Breed Discriminatory Legislation

May 29, 2009 : 3:58 PM
Study shows breed bans not only unfair, but expensive to enforce 

By Sandy Miller, Best Friends staff writer

Breed discriminatory legislation (BDL) is happening in cities across the country, and it usually begins with a dog attacking someone. If the dog is, say, a Labrador retriever or a springer spaniel, chances are people will hear little, if anything about it. If the dog is suspected to be a “pit bull”— even if it’s not—the media can’t get enough of the story. “If it bleeds, it leads” is a common mantra among most mainstream media organizations. They know their newspaper readers and television news viewers will eat it right up.

Studies Show Breed Bans Don’t Work
City leaders, anxious to pacify voters in their communities and quell fears, often enact laws banning pit bulls, and other breeds of dogs, from their communities. The problem is breed bans don’t do anything to keep their communities safer.

“We’ve had studies that show these laws don’t work,” says Ledy VanKavage, Esq., senior legislative analyst for Best Friends Animal Society. “The problem is the reckless owners, not the dogs.”

Julie Castle, Best Friends director of Community Programs and Services, agrees.
“What these laws create is a false sense of security,” Castle says. “People think they’re going to be safe from vicious dogs. What they need to do is focus on irresponsible owners.”

Taxpayers Pay for Breed Bans
But there’s another element to add to the mix—the costs to taxpayers to enforce these laws. And now, thanks to a groundbreaking study commissioned by Best Friends and funded by the National Canine Research Council, local lawmakers can find out just what those costs would be in their own cities, counties and states with a simple click of a mouse.

The study, “The Fiscal Impact of Breed Discriminatory Legislation in the United States,” conducted by the New York City-based John Dunham and Associates, shows it would cost governmental entities more than $450 million to enforce a nationwide ban on pit bulls. That number includes the costs of enforcement, kenneling, veterinary care, euthanasia and disposal, litigation and DNA testing.

There are an estimated 72.1 million dogs in the U.S. of which approximately 5 million—or 6.9 percent—are pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Pit bull is a generic name for American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and their mixes.

Tool Calculates Cost of Breed Ban in Your Community
The online calculator allows anyone to estimate by city, county or state the costs for implementing and enforcing a breed-specific law.

“It’s great we now have a tool that calculates these costs,” VanKavage says. “These laws are knee-jerk reactions that don’t work and are fiscally irresponsible. They cost taxpayers an arm and a leg, especially in a recession with unemployment soaring.”

The website page also contains information about how the study was conducted, facts about breed bans and their ineffectiveness, and talking points to help guide people while speaking with local lawmakers.

“It puts activism in the hands of the public and gives them the tools necessary to fight breed bans in their own communities,” Castle says.

[/b]Costs Vary Depending Upon Population[/b]
The costs of breed bans vary depending on the population of a community. For instance, take New York City, a city of more than eight million people. According to the study, there are an estimated 1,532,100 dogs in the city, of which 106,460 are pit bull-type dogs. A pit bull ban would cost New York City taxpayers a total of $12,895,950 annually, which includes $7,063,560 for enforcement, $2,446,590 for kenneling and veterinary care, $2,245,570 for euthanizing and disposal, $191,590 for litigation costs and $948,640 for DNA testing.

Compare those costs to those of Abbeville, Alabama, a small southern city with about 3,000 residents. According to the study, there are an estimated 840 dogs in the city, of which 60 are pit bull-type dogs. A breed ban would cost the town’s taxpayers $4,360 each year. That might not sound like a lot, but it is for small towns like Abbeville.

“The costs are significant,” says Dunham, who conducted the study. “Small towns don’t have the infrastructure to handle it.”

Dunham, whose firm has done economic analyses on all kinds of things, says what surprised him most while doing this study is how little data there is out there on pets.

“It shocked me that the facts are so scarce,” Dunham says. “Usually, I have too much data. In this case, I had very little to work with.”

Yet, Dunham says, cities are enacting everything from pooper scooper laws to breed bans and “basing it on nothing because they have no information.”

Better Way to Manage Dangerous Dogs
VanKavage hopes the study will convince government officials that there are much better ways to keep their communities safe than enacting breed bans, such as ordinances that focus on responsible pet ownership and work to prevent dog bites before they happen.

“Breed-discriminatory laws break the human-animal bond,” VanKavage says. “It’s un-American to go into someone’s house and take their pets away. And you can’t get to No More Homeless Pets by killing them.”

For More Information
• Visit Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog, one of four Best Friends campaigns aimed at reaching the goal of No More Homeless Pets.

• Read more about breed discriminatory legislation and other issues facing pit bulls around the country on the Best Friends Network.

• Read about Italy recently revoking its breed ban stating the ban had no scientific justification.

• Discover how Calgary, Canada has lowest dog bite rates in 25 years, without enacting breed discriminatory legislation.

Photos by Molly Wald, Best Friends staff photographer
Posted by Cheri Moon, Best Friends Network editor