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I am a supporter of National Pit Bull Victim Awareness. We advocate for the victims of pit bulls, including people, other animals and communities. We strive to make victims’ voices heard so policy makers can understand the very real threat posed to our communities by pit bulls.
I would like to put forward three resources as you deliberate the pressure from pit bull activists to do away with the pit bull ban currently protecting Ottumwa. Please take just a moment to scan the material:
(1) 38 peer-reviewed medical studies documenting the disproportionate frequency and devastating severity of pit bull bites: https://www.nationalpitbullvictimawareness.org/articles/medical-studies-on-pit-bulls/
(2) A bank of first-person witness testimonies from the victims of pit bulls: https://www.nationalpitbullvictimawareness.org/victim-stories/
(3) A database of severe pit bull attacks recently in the news: https://www.nationalpitbullvictimawareness.org/attacks/pit-bull-attack-database-keywords
For legislators looking for advice about the safety of pit bulls, I recommend consulting medical experts who through their dealings with the victims of these animals in emergency rooms and in reconstructive surgery operations see and tabulate the effects of pit bulls on communities. The claim by pit bull advocates that pit bulls are just like any other dogs and pose no increased risk to children is a fabricated falsehood. This dangerously unsupported claim is part of what is getting so many innocent children mauled or even killed by these dogs.
Reputable voices can be found in peer-reviewed medical journals. An increasing number of hospital studies show the clear risk of pit bulls to children and indeed to everyone in a community – in over 20 studies in the last 10 years alone doctors in the US and Canada are raising the alarms about pit bull attacks as a public health concern. https://www.nationalpitbullvictimawareness.org/articles/medical-studies-on-pit-bulls/
The medical data is clear. Pit bulls make up less than 6% of the dog population, but cause over 50% of the severe injuries to children, and in most cases the very worst of the injuries and death. The truth is that someone in the United States and Canada is killed by a pit bull every 11 days on average. Children are affected the most. In the past two months alone, a baby girl was killed by her aunt’s pit bull in Mississippi; a four-year old boy mauled to death by his uncle’s pit bulls in Texas; and a seven-month old girl killed by her great-grandmother’s pit bull in Georgia. https://www.nationalpitbullvictimawareness.org/attacks/pit-bull-attack-database-keywords
The majority of other dog breeds don’t even remotely pose this actualized risk. The vast majority of dog breeds have never killed or mauled a child — no matter how they are raised or how “educated” or “uneducated” or how bad their owners are in handling them.
Not every pit bull will attack. But, unfortunately, you can’t tell which ones will. And if they do — and enough of them do, often enough — that one moment can mean the difference between life and death of a child or a disfiguring injury and a life of pain, scars and emotional trauma. Victim stories submitted to us every day attest to the pain and trauma of these attacks. https://www.nationalpitbullvictimawareness.org/victim-stories/
You will have been hearing falsehoods that breed specific legislation (BSL) is costly and ineffective with regard to reducing dog bites. The myth that “BSL costs too much” originates from one report produced by Best Friends, a pit bull advocacy organization in Utah, devised for them by a former tobacco industry person. In 2012, those cost calculations were discredited by a government committee in Florida (Miami-Dade). Their examination of the estimates revealed that actual BSL enforcement costs were in fact 65 times lower than those claimed. Pit bull advocates continue to shamelessly present them to unsuspecting legislators who aren’t aware that study was been resoundingly discredited several years ago.
You will also hear pit bull advocates equate “bites” with “maulings”, in an attempt to gaslight you on the devasting full meaning of “mauling”. In terms of population health, BSL is not designed to reduce bites from dogs or any other household pets: it is designed instead to reduce severe, life-changing maulings, which are in a category to themselves. Most dog bites (or other pet bites) usually just require a wash and a bandage, and maybe in the worst case scenarios a few stitches: pit bull maulings often require air ambulances, just the start of a long series of costly medical interventions.
What is expensive to government is the cost to the taxpayer of these severe, life-changing maulings from pit bulls. Many victims require several rounds of surgery over several years, the cost of which can approach hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars per case. Often, survivors simply never recover fully and require taxpayer income supports for the rest of their lives, even after the most onerous healthcare costs have been incurred.
You may be seeing reference to “scientific” information sourced from something called the “National Canine Research Council” (NCRC). This “research institute” is wholly owned by a pit bull advocacy organization (Animal Farm Foundation), with the goal of publishing paid-for reports in favor of pit bulls. In 2016, the Quebec Association of Veterinarians was forced to apologize publicly for submitting “studies” from the National Canine Research Council to the Quebec Provincial government when it was pointed out the studies were in fact literally paid-for propaganda.
At the very least, I would advise you not to rush into this. This could be the exact wrong moment to rescind your ban – just as serious pit bull attack injuries are on the rise all around you. Dr. Robert Lober, a Pediatric Neurosurgeon in Ohio, commenting on the rising wave of serious pit bull attacks happening there, says: “In my mind, this is an epidemic”. Dr. K. Craig Kent, dean of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, in a May 2019 report on pit bull attacks says that they have now become “a significant public health issue.”
It would be a mistake to consider pit bull supporting organizations as the only relevant stakeholders in this. Victims of pit bulls and the medical community are stakeholders, too, and should be heard. An environmental scan of pit bull attacks as a public health issue in jurisdictions around you should be conducted, as well as a review of the medical literature, and factored into any decision. It would be regrettable to lift your protections against an epidemic just as it is reaching your doorstep.
Many cautionary tales exist. After Pawtucket, Rhode Island was forced to lift its longstanding ban in late 2013, pit bull attacks increased by over a ten-fold in just 5 years. In 2021, just one short year after Denver, Colorado lifted its 30-year ban, Denver Animal Protection identified already 117 attacks from pit bull breeds. https://www.axios.com/local/denver/2022/01/05/pit-bull-bites-denver-outnumber-breeds The same day the province of Ontario attempted to ease its restrictions in response to campaigning by pit bull advocates, a boy was mauled in the face resulting in a public outcry against officials forcing a backtrack. https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ontario-eased-a-pit-bull-ban-then-a-boy-was-bitten-by-dog-in-the-face
Please study our database carefully, read victim stories, review medical evidence, and err on the side of caution.
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