In 2003, Prince George County, Maryland comprehensively examined BSL. A Vicious Animal Task Force was formed to scrutinize the merit of the local pit bull ban to inform the county on its effectiveness and to recommend improvements on the legislation. The Task Force began with an extensive review of dog bites and exposure statistics provided by the Department of Health. The results concluded that the information on dog bites prior to the adoption of CB-106-1996 (BSL defining Pit Bull Terrier dogs).
After thorough review, the Task Force noted that the statistics were designed to track rabies and not a breed. It also advises that the breed identification that wer given by dog bite victims were often vague. The Task Force also noted that the dogs referred to as “pit bulls” were originally a product of mix-breeding, which complicates correct identification. The overall validity of the bite-statistics were deemed questionable, at best.
The statistics relating to complaints and nuisances calls and euthanasia were also examined by the Task Force. When reviewing the complaints, the number and types of cases that came before the Animal Control Commission were discussed. The Animal Management Division was receiving about 27,000 calls for service per year. The number of calls pertaining to pit bulls were about 3,000 per year. The lists of the total number of pit bulls impounded annually from 1997 through June 2002, were also analyzed to include those euthanized versus those returned to their owners. Even though collectively “pit bull type dogs” were responsible for less than 12% of complaints and more than 80% of the animals were euthanized.
The Associate Director of the Animal Management Division presented the Task Force with the groundwork regarding to the financial impact on the county for housing a pit bull. The cost analysis shows that over a two-year period (2000-2001), the cost to the Animal Management Division for the maintenance of pit bulls regularly exceeded one-quarter of one-million dollars each year. The number would be higher if other factors were quantified, such as utilities, manpower, overtime, etc).
The Task Force raised considerable concern over the overall effectiveness and economic impact of the county’s BSL. It found that the BSL of Prince George’s County was effective in only keeping the number of pit bulls in the county at a low number, but otherwise, they deemed the legislation “ineffective, costly, difficult to enforce, subjective, and questionable.”
The breed ban is ineffective due to several factors.
- Cost to county/direct and indirect revenue loss
- Cost in manpower and staff time
- Cross-agency overlap in responsibility: police must respond and arrest in certain situations
- Difficulty determining the breed
- Definition of a pit bull is subjective
- Limits space at shelters, as each pit bull must be housed separately
- Increases the number of animal control commission cases causing a backlog
- Limits education resources
- Difficult to enforce
- Bite statistics are difficult to interpret
- No improvement in public whatsoever
The Task Force concluded that the Animal Control Ordinance is generally effective on its own merit and laws and regulations randomly targeting so-called “vicious dogs” are costly and unproductive. They recommended developing an Inter-Agency Task Force that works simultaneously to enforce and educate- adopting a legislation that focuses on educating dog owners and members of the community and enforcing animal control laws that are intended to protect all citizens. Legislations with a potentially dangerous dog needs to address all canine and human behavior in order to truly protect the public’s health and safety.
The Task Force highly recommended to repeal the ban.
BSL Expense – Stop BSL