«JOURNAL OF LAW, ECONOMICS & POLICY VOLUME 10 SPRING 2014 NUMBER 2 EDITORIAL BOARD 2013-2014 Steve Dunn Editor-in-Chief Crystal Yi Meagan Dziura Sarah ...»
A horrifying news story was published in 1983 where a child was mauled to death by his family’s pet pit bull.142 The community became enraged and urged legislators to ban pit bulls in the City of Cincinnati.143 It was later discovered that a local teenager had actually stolen the dog, perhaps hoping to train it for dog fighting, and had sold it on the street to the mauled boy’s father.144 The boy’s father bought the unsterilized dog and kept it chained in the yard, in hopes that it would mate with their already chained-up female dog.145 A ban on pit bulls would not have prevented this incident.146 There needs to be a different and broader approach to solving dog bite issues.147 Most importantly, there must be stronger enforcement of 138 Id.
140 Sherry Williams, Friendswood PD: Girl Attacked by German Shepherd; Charges Pending KHOU 11 NEWS (Mar. 29, 2012, 6:00 PM), Against Dog-Owner, http://www.khou.com/news/Friendswood-police-Girl-attacked-by-German-shepherd-charges-pendingagainst-dog-owner-144932825.html.
141 Donnie Johnston, Jack Russell Terrier Bites Off Infant’s Ear, FREDERICKSBURG.COM (May 2, 2012, 10:34 AM), http://blogs.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2012/05/02/jack-russell-terrier-bites-offinfant%E2%80%99s-ear/.
142 Medlin, supra note 10, at 1285.
146 See id. at 1310–11 (discussing the Cyclical Effect of Irresponsible Human Behavior and how this type of incident can happen with any other strong breed of dog).
147 See generally Position Statement on Breed-Specific Legislation, AM. SOC’Y FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, http://www.aspca.org/about-us/aspca-policy-and-positionstatements/position-statement-on-breed-specific-legislation (last visited Sept. 24, 2013) (giving a brief overview of better ways to curb dog on human attacks); Why Breed Specific Legislation Doesn’t Work, 2014] SHOULD WE BEWARE OF DOG OR BEWARE OF BREED? 483 Dangerous Dog Laws that are already in place.148 Greater enforcement, combined with a policy of strict liability for dog owners whose dogs are running lose and bite someone causing injury or death,149 would incentivize owners to follow leash laws and ensure that fences and enclosures are inescapable by their dogs.150 This will also allow for greater criminal liability for owners of dogs that have been declared “dangerous” by prior behavior.151 The most important first step is the stricter enforcement of regular dog licensing laws.152 However, the majority of people do not license their pets.153 When dogs lack proper registration, there is no way to keep track of how many dogs are in the city or who owns the dogs, making it harder to pinpoint culpability when the dog attacks someone.154 Once licensing is in place, there can be proper dog bite reporting for allocation of scarce resources and for better pinpointing what kinds of preventive strategies are working in which communities.155 Increased dog licensing regulations would also help curb the problem of dogs running at large in the community, as authorities could more easily determine an owner and therefore issue a citation. This would also decrease dog bites, as many dog-on-human attacks occur while the dog is running off its owner’s property.156 Studies have shown that aggressive behavior in dogs can be traced back to six categories of behavior157: (1) humans encouraging aggressive behavior in larger, stronger dogs by reinforcing aggressive behavior by their dogs toward other animals and humans;158 (2) humans abusing or neglecting larger, stronger dogs by limiting socialization;159 (3) dogs protectsupra note 137 (providing a brief overview of why the organization is against Breed Specific Legislation and the more effective ways to curb dog on human attacks).
148 See Hussain, supra note 12, at 2886.
149 Maryland House Gives Initial Approval to Dog Bite Bill, ABC 7 NEWS (Aug. 14, 2012, 5:39 PM), http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/08/maryland-house-gives-initial-approval-to-dog-bite-billhtml.
150 Hussain, supra note 12, at 2884.
151 See id. at 2876.
152 Id. at 2884 (reporting that Calgary, Canada, halved the number of aggressive dog incidents by stricter enforcment of their licensing laws).
153 Breed-Specific Law FAQ, DOGSBITE.ORG, http://www.dogsbite.org/legislating-dangerous-dogsbsl-faq.php (last visited Sept. 25, 2013).
154 See id.
155 See Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions, A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention, 218 J. AM. VETERINARY MED. ASS’N 1732, 1738–39 (2001).
156 Sacks et al., supra note 7, at 836.
157 McNeely & Lindquist, supra note 15, at 107.
158 Id. See also Medlin, supra note 10, at 1298 (“For the past 20 years, [p]it [b]ulls have been subjected to cruelty, abuse and mistreatment to a degree and on a scale that no other breed in recent history has ever had to endure.”) (citing KAREN DELISE, FATAL DOG ATTACKS: THE STORIES BEHIND THE STATISTICS 85 (2002)).
159 McNeely & Lindquist, supra note 15, at 107.
ing food or family members;160 (4) dogs that are ill;161 (5) dogs allowed to chase moving objects;162 and (6) dogs who have not been spayed or neutered and are looking for a mate.163 These six factors can all be attributed to human behaviors and many of them are considered animal cruelty or neglect under various state and federal statutes.164 However, better anticruelty laws are still needed in general.165 For example, chaining of dogs should be included under all anticruelty laws as it breeds isolation and makes the dogs more territorial and more prone to aggressiveness.166 Because most canine aggression can be traced to human behavior, especially cruel behavior, people already convicted of animal abuse should be banned from owning dogs in the future. States should enact animal abuse registries similar to one proposed in New York City.167 The registry would contain people convicted of “animal fighting, abandonment, aggravated cruelty, and failure to provide proper sustenance.”168 The bill proposing the registry would mandate that the abusers would be on the registry for five years after the first conviction and ten years after an additional conviction, and those on the list would be prevented from obtaining any new pets.169 Dog fighting is also a major contributor to dangerous dog behavior.
As dog-fighting sports evolved in England from bull and bear baiting to the cheaper dog-on-dog combat, fighting dogs were bred to be stronger and to have greater endurance for longer—and therefore more profitable— fights.170 When dog fighting came to the United States in the mid-1850’s, the promoters of dog fighting had bred the ultimate fighting dog, the American pit bull terrier.171 Though dog fighting has been outlawed in all fifty 160 Id.
164 See, e.g., MINN. STAT. § 343.40 (2012) (banning the keeping of dogs outdoors without proper shelter and protection against the elements); N.C. GEN. STAT. § 14-36061 (2012) (criminalizing cruelty to animals); VA. CODE ANN. § 3.2-6570 (2008) (criminalizing cruelty to animals).
165 See Hussain, supra note 12, at 2875–76.
166 Mcneely & Lindquist, supra note 15, at 108.
167 Animal Abuser Registry Bill Proposed by New York City Council Members, HUFFINGTON POST N.Y. (Sept. 19, 2012, 1:44 PM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/animal-abuse-registry-billnew-york-city-council_n_1897209.html?utm_hp_ref=new-york; see also Charles Rabin & Patricia Mazzei, Miami–Dade Commission Signs Off on Online Dangerous-dog Registry, THE MIAMI HERALD (Oct. 2, 2012), http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/02/3029298/miami-dade-commission-meetstuesday.html (Miami legislatures have approved an online dangerous dog registry that will include any registered dangerous dogs’ pictures along with the owners home address).
168 HUFFINGTON POST N.Y., supra note 168.
170 Monica Villavicencio, A History of Dogfighting, NPR (July 19, 2007), http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12108421.
2014] SHOULD WE BEWARE OF DOG OR BEWARE OF BREED? 485 states, and is a felony in all but Idaho and Wyoming,172 the Humane Society estimates that there are about 40,000 dog fighters in the United States and 100,000 “street fighters” (amateur dog fighters) as well.173 High-stakes dog fighting is a profitable industry that incentivizes the continued breeding of aggressive, fighting dogs.174 The most worrisome outcome of underground dog fighting is the profitability of “backyard” breeders, who are unregistered and unskilled, and breed dogs that are aggressive towards humans.175 The unrestricted breeding of fighting dogs has caused the overpopulation of a breed that many consider a symbol for power, tenacity, and aggression.176 Though dog fighting is banned in all fifty states,177 the penalties need to be stronger for those spectating, participating, and training dogs for competition in this heinous activity.178 The first step is making sure that dog fighting is a felony in all fifty states, and not just a misdemeanor.179 There should also be a restriction of ownership, specifically laws prohibiting those previously convicted of a felony from owning certain types of dogs.180 However, it is not just the actual dog fighting that must be legislated against; laws should prohibit the steps leading up to dog fighting, such as stealing other pets for “bait” animals to train future fighting dogs to kill.181 States should follow Arizona’s example and make stealing a dog for the purpose of dog fighting a felony regardless of the value of the dog.182 If the authorities are notified when the dog is stolen, the investigation begins earlier and the likelihood of discovering a dog-fighting ring, or a purveyor of dog fighting, becomes higher.183 172 Rankings of State Dog Fighting Laws, THE HUMANE SOC’Y OF THE U.S. (June 2011), http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/animal_fighting/dogfighting_statelaws.pdf.
173 Hanna Gibson, Dog Fighting Detailed Discussion, ANIMAL LEGAL & HISTORICAL CTR. (2005), http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ddusdogfighting.htm (last visited Sept. 21, 2012).
174 Dogfighting a Booming Business, Experts Say, CNN.COM (July 19, 2007, 9:32 PM), http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/07/18/dog.fighting/index.html.
175 Gibson, supra note 174.
176 Medlin, supra note 10, at 1298; Richard, supra note 10, at 13–15.
177 THE HUMANE SOC’Y OF THE U.S., supra note 173.
178 Id. (spectating at a dogfight is only classified as a misdemeanor in twenty-four states and legal in two. Possessing dogs for dog fighting is still only a misdemeanor in four states).
180 720 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5 / 12 (2013) (prohibiting felons from owning unspayed and unneutered dogs); OHIO REV. CODE ANN. § 955.54 (LexisNexis 2012) (banning felons from owning unspayed and unneutered dogs).
181 Maryann Mott, NAT’L GEOGRAPHIC NEWS (Feb. 18, 2004), http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0218_040218_dogfighting.html.
182 Bringing All Appropriate Charges, AM. SOC’Y FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS FOR PROF’LS, http://www.aspcapro.org/bringing-all-appropriate-charges.php (last visited Sept. 21, 2012).
Spaying and neutering pets can decrease aggression and territorial behavior especially when male dogs smell a nearby female in heat.184 Owners and potential owners should be educated on the benefits to spaying and neutering their dogs. Providing low-cost access to spay and neuter services by animal rescue and advocacy organizations may encourage dog owners to spay and neuter their pets since the high cost of these procedures may be a deterrent to owners.185 Education is a major element to curb dog attacks. This includes not just education for those desiring to own dogs, but community education as well.186 Dogs communicate with other dogs and humans in very different ways than humans communicate with other humans.187 Children are often overly enthusiastic with their canine friends, especially when interacting closely with a dog for the first time.188 As children between the ages of five and nine are the most likely dog bite victims,189 young children need to be educated about dog behavior and how to appropriately interact with dogs.190 In Sydney, Australia, 197 children, ages seven to eight, were selected to complete a thirty-minute school lesson on how to both recognize different dog behaviors and how to safely interact with dogs.191 Ten days after the lesson the children were surprised to see a dog tethered in their playground, sitting five meters from its owner.192 Of the 197 children who participated in the lesson, only 9% attempted to pet or play with the dog while 79% of the students in the control group, students who were not given the lesson, attempted to play with or pet the dog.193 Though this experiment was only done with a small group of children, the results were astounding. Though all of these elements together seem costly, they are actually just utilizing 184 Top Ten Reasons to Spay and Neuter Your Pet, AM. SOC’Y FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY ANIMALS, http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/spayneuter/spay-neuter-top-ten.aspx (last visited Sept. 21, TO 2012).
185 Spaying and Neutering, ANIMAL WELFARE LEAGUE OF ARLINGTON, http://www.awla.org/spayneuter-program.shtml (last visited Sept. 21, 2012); see also ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics, AM.
SOC’Y FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, http://www.aspca.org/aspca-nyc/mobileclinic/ (last visited Sept. 21, 2012) (offering $5 spay and neutering services to those receiving public assistance and free spay and neutering services to pit bulls and pit bull mixes).
186 Mcneely & Lindquist, supra note 15, at 104.
187 Id. (explaining the five categories of canine auditory communications).
188 Bruce A. McKenna, Breed Discrimination Laws: So Wrong in so Many Ways, FED. LAWYER, June 2011, at 4–5 (recalling a memory of attending a ten-year-old’s birthday party and seeing the birthday boy hug his brand new puppy-present so hard that the dog bit him).
189 Home and Recreational Safety: Dog Bite Prevention, CTRS. FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (Oct. 25, 2013), http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/dogbites/biteprevention.html#mostatrisk.
190 Medlin, supra note 10, at 1309.
191 Simon Chapman, et. al., Preventing Dog Bites in Children: Randomised Controlled Trial of an