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Jamey Medlin

56 DePaul L. Rev. 1285 (2007)
Publish Date:
Place of Publication: DePaul University
Printable Version

DePaul Law Review
Summer 2007



Jamey Medlin [FNa1]

Copyright (c) 2007 DePaul University; Jamey Medlin (reprinted with permission)


In September 1983, a horrific story dominated news headlines in Cincinnati: a local child had been mauled to death by his family dog, a pit bull. [FN1] The attack enraged the community and drove the local government to ban pit bulls from the city. [FN2] Several days after the boy's death, details about the events leading up to the attack quietly emerged on the back pages of local newspapers. [FN3] The “family dog” actually belonged to someone else; a neighborhood teenager had stolen the male pit bull a month earlier from its owner's backyard. [FN4] There was speculation that the teen may have abused the pit bull in hopes of “turn[ing] him into a fighting dog.” [FN5] The teenager feared being caught, so he offered the dog for sale on the street. [FN6] The victim's father bought the dog and took him home to mate with his female pit bull, [FN7] keeping both dogs chained in the family's yard. [FN8] One day, the boy wandered near the chained dogs while the female was in heat; the male dog attacked and killed him. [FN9] The dog had been with the family for less than two weeks. [FN10] When the rightful owner was reunited with his dog, he noted that the pit bull looked much thinner and was in very poor health. [FN11]

The debate over pit bulls [FN12] in America is a heated one. Most of the media coverage suggests that pit bull attacks, such as the one in Cincinnati,*1286 are occurring at an alarming rate. [FN13] Local governments have responded by passing laws banning pit bulls, [FN14] much to the relief of worried citizens. Opponents of breed-specific legislation, however, say that pit bull bans are unreasonable and ineffective. [FN15] They argue that the circumstances surrounding most dog attacks point to a much deeper problem--one that lies in human irresponsibility and cruelty rather than the specific traits of a breed. [FN16]
One point of controversy is whether a dog can be classified as dangerous or vicious solely on the basis of its breed. [FN17] Pit bull bans stem from the belief that the dogs are unpredictable and inherently dangerous. [FN18] Supporters of these bans believe that these dogs pose such a great risk to public safety that a ban is necessary, even if innocent dogs and owners are penalized in the process. [FN19] Opponents, however, claim that breed alone is not a good indicator of canine behavior. [FN20] Health professionals and animal behaviorists point out that breed is only one of “[s]everal interacting factors” that determine a dog's likelihood to attack. [FN21] In fact, many of the factors that affect a dog's demeanor depend on humans, including proper training, socialization, and the “quality of ownership and supervision” of the dog. [FN22] Moreover, the legislative history of pit bull bans also recognizes these human factors. [FN23] Therefore, it is not clear that legislation addressing breed alone will curb the number of dog attacks. [FN24]

*1287 This Comment examines the reasons for breed-specific legislation and looks at some of the human factors behind the “breed” problem. It argues that instead of targeting specific breeds, municipalities should enforce existing animal control laws and punish the human behavior that leads to dog attacks. This Comment focuses solely on the pit bull, because this dog is at the center of the controversy today. [FN25] But twenty years ago, much of this Comment could have applied to the Great Dane or the Doberman Pinscher, and in the future it could apply to any other large, strong breed that falls into the hands of irresponsible owners. [FN26] Part II discusses the evolution of the pit bull's public image and provides some examples of pit bull bans and other breed-specific legislation. [FN27] Part III weighs the arguments surrounding pit bull bans and discusses the human factors underlying canine behavior. [FN28] Part IV questions the effectiveness of breed bans and addresses possible alternative solutions. [FN29] This Comment concludes that laws addressing human behavior, rather than breed bans, are a better long-term solution to further public safety and animal welfare.

II. Background

Man and dog have been living together for over 10,000 years. [FN30] Over that time, different breeds of dogs have been considered more dangerous than others. [FN31] Today, the pit bull is considered the most “dangerous” breed and has become the target of numerous laws. [FN32] This Part first explores the history of the pit bull, its journey to America, and the evolution of its public image. [FN33] It then provides specific examples of pit bull bans passed in various localities. [FN34]

*1288 A. The Pit Bull

Since the time the pit bull came to America, its public perception has undergone a radical transformation. Once regarded as an ideal family pet, the pit bull today is feared and reviled. A look at public attitudes toward the pit bull over time reveals how the changing social landscape of America has also changed the pit bull's public image.
1. Origins of the Pit Bull

Pit bull breeds descend from ninteenth-century bulldogs, which were used in England for the popular sport of bullbaiting. [FN35] The bullbaiting dogs led bleak lives at the hands of humans who viewed brutality and bloodshed as entertainment. [FN36] In a bullbaiting match, bulldogs were set loose to attack a restrained bull. [FN37] The dogs and the bulls severely injured each other during these matches. [FN38] Bullbaiting was eventually banned as inhumane, and people turned to dogfighting for their entertainment. [FN39] Consequently, people began breeding smaller, more agile dogs to satisfy the country's dogfighting habit. [FN40] Breeders aimed to create dogs that were aggressive to other animals but friendly to people, so they could be easily handled. [FN41]
When Britons came to the United States, they brought their dogs and their dogfighting tradition. [FN42] But as families moved west, pit bulls earned appreciation on the frontier as farm dogs and family companions rather than as fighting dogs. [FN43] Pit bulls gradually came to be revered for their mild temperaments and loyalty. [FN44]

2. The Pit Bull's Reputation in the Early Twentieth Century
In the first part of the twentieth century, pit bulls were known as the all-American family pet. [FN45] Helen Keller had a pit bull, as did President Theodore Roosevelt. [FN46] Petey of the Little Rascals and Tige *1289 from the Buster Brown shoe commercials both belonged to pit bull breeds. [FN47] Patsy Ann, a pit bull dubbed the “the official greeter of Juneau,” won countless hearts in the Alaskan capital by welcoming ships and greeting passengers as they came into port. [FN48] A pit bull named Stubby served in World War I, locating wounded soldiers and serving as a therapy dog. [FN49] During one overnight gas attack, he awoke and alerted his sleeping regiment, saving numerous lives. [FN50] After the war, Stubby received a purple heart and General John Pershing awarded him the Gold Medal of Valor. [FN51] Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge all honored Stubby at White House ceremonies. [FN52] In addition to these “celebrity” canines, countless pit bulls outside of the public eye enjoyed the adoration of family members and neighbors. [FN53]

3. The Pit Bull's Reputation Today
Pit bulls today have been called “[w]alking horror shows,” [FN54] “predators of the defenseless,” [FN55] and the “Ted Bundys of the canine world.” [FN56] These modern references to the pit bull show just how far the breed's reputation has fallen. [FN57] Images of gentle pit bulls on television have given way to footage of snarling, dangerous beasts being corralled into animal control vans. [FN58] What has caused the demise of the pit bull's public image? Some blame the media, [FN59] as well as the breed's growing popularity with irresponsible and even criminal owners,*1290 such as gang members and drug dealers. [FN60] Others say the reputation is deserved, citing well-publicized attacks as evidence that the pit bull is an inherently vicious beast. [FN61] Whatever the cause, the pit bull's current bad reputation has made it a popular target of breed-specific legislation. [FN62]

B. Breed Bans

Today, breed bans are a popular way for local governments to deal with the problem of dog attacks. A few major cities have banned pit bulls, and smaller municipalities throughout the country are beginning to follow suit. As the prevalence of breed bans continues to grow, these laws have stirred up great controversy.
Cities and counties all over the country have enacted laws either banning or closely regulating pit bull ownership. An estimated two hundred counties throughout America ban pit bulls, [FN63] and some large cities do as well. [FN64] For example, Denver resumed enforcement of its 1989 pit bull ban in May 2005, after a state law prohibiting breed-specific legislation was overturned. [FN65] Denver's ban makes it illegal for anyone to “own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport or sell” a pit bull in the city. [FN66] The ban was originally passed after separate pit bull attacks on a local minister and a young boy. [FN67] The city suspended enforcement of the ordinance in 2004 after the state passed a law prohibiting breed-specific legislation. [FN68] Denver sued, and in 2005 a Colorado state court found that the law “violate[d] Denver's home rule authority under the Colorado state constitution.” [FN69] Denver renewed its enforcement of the ordinance without enacting an updated grandfather clause, so all pit bulls in the city as of *1291 2005 had to be removed or surrendered. [FN70] The bill cites the selective breeding of pit bulls for dogfighting, the pit bull's physical dominance, and “an alarming increase in attacks by pit bulls against humans nationwide” as reasons for the ban. [FN71] The bill also declares that “the mere possession of pit bulls poses a significant threat to the health, welfare and safety of Denver citizens,” and that “current methods of control by pit bull owners, judging by the large number of incidents involving pit bulls, have proved to be insufficient in protecting the public.” [FN72]

Both the City of Cincinnati and Miami-Dade County also ban pit bulls. [FN73] The Miami-Dade County ordinance states that no pit bull may be “kept, maintained or otherwise harbored within” county limits. [FN74] The legislative history behind the ordinance cites “the unique history, nature and characteristics” of pit bulls as necessitating the ban. [FN75] Similarly, Cincinnati's law classifies pit bulls as “vicious,” [FN76] and forbids anyone to “own, keep, possess, control or harbor” one in the city limits. [FN77] Owners who registered their pit bulls by November 1, 2003, however, are exempt if they comply with certain regulations, including re-registering the dog annually, microchipping the dog, and obtaining $50,000 in liability insurance. [FN78]

In a different approach, California enacted a law in 2005 allowing municipalities to impose spay and neuter programs [FN79] and breeding restrictions. [FN80] The law is permissive, allowing communities to regulate breeding “provided that no specific dog breed, or mixed dog breed, shall be declared potentially dangerous or vicious under those ordinances.” [FN81] Therefore, a municipality in California may require owners *1292 to sterilize their dogs, [FN82] or it may choose to regulate breeders. [FN83] For example, a city may require breeders of certain dog breeds to obtain a license issued pursuant to the city's guidelines. [FN84] The law also requires communities adopting breed-specific legislation to report quarterly statistics on dog bites in the community, including the bite's severity, the breed of the dog responsible, and the dog's reproductive status. [FN85] Rather than blaming the breeds, the California law cites the problems caused by “irresponsible breeding,” as well as “the growing pet overpopulation and [unregulated] animal breeding practices,” as justification for the law. [FN86]

III. Analysis

Whether one is for or against banning the pit bull, there is no doubt that both sides of the debate are emotionally charged. At the same time, the problem encompasses a number of issues unrelated to breed. Rather, several cruel and irresponsible human behaviors can produce dangerous dogs. This Part first looks at the arguments on both sides of the pit bull debate, and then looks at some of the human factors that contribute to dangerous canine behavior. [FN87] Finally, this Part examines the concerns raised by leaving these human behaviors unchecked, and reviews the evidence suggesting that breed bans are ineffective and expensive. [FN88] Laws targeting breed alone cannot eradicate dangerous dog attacks; municipalities must pass laws targeting irresponsible human behavior and enforce existing animal control laws.

A. Support for Pit Bull Bans

Supporters of bans generally cite the pit bull's physical stature and dangerous reputation as evidence of the need to ban these dogs. [FN89] They argue that the community's safety trumps a dog owner's right to keep his or her dog. [FN90] In demonstrating the pit bull's dangerous disposition, supporters of pit bull bans acknowledge that human behaviors contribute to the development of dangerous dogs. [FN91]
*1293 1. Concerns Related to Genetics

Legislatures, along with supporters of pit bull bans, have expressed concern about the pit bull's nature. [FN92] Many statutes rely on the pit bull's alleged inherent aggressiveness and its physical stature. [FN93] Denver legislatures cited “[a] combination of agility, stamina, and strength, together with a genetic predisposition to aggressiveness, that makes pit bulls uniquely dangerous, even to their owners, among all breeds of dogs, especially where improperly raised or trained.” [FN94] The pit bull's “[p]owerful jaws capable of crushing bones” and “strong fighting instinct” are also named as reasons for the Denver ordinance. [FN95] Likewise, the bill enacting a ban in Prince George's County, Maryland cites the pit bull breed's “unpredictable nature” and “extraordinarily savage behavior and physical capabilities” as necessitating the ban. [FN96]
Public support for pit bull bans reflects similar concerns. [FN97] Supporters claim that all pit bulls are aggressive and unpredictable, and that even a seemingly friendly pit bull can attack without warning. [FN98] They note that the pit bull's high tolerance for pain and its tendency to “fight to the death” make pit bull attacks particularly dangerous when compared to attacks by other breeds. [FN99] Others say that the problem is not necessarily the pit bull's propensity to attack but the amount of damage it can inflict. [FN100]

Whether concerned about the frequency or the severity of pit bull attacks, ban supporters agree that these gruesome incidents, coupled with a lack of enforcement of existing dangerous-dog laws, require drastic action. They argue that traditional legislation, which classifies dogs as dangerous only after they display vicious behavior, is ineffective. [FN101] One may not know that a pit bull has a vicious temperament *1294 or an irresponsible owner until after the dog attacks. [FN102] Therefore, generic legislation fails to protect citizens until after the damage has been done. [FN103] Ban supporters worry that the public will remain at risk unless communities eliminate potentially vicious pit bulls before they attack, even if this means punishing nonthreatening dogs and responsible owners at the same time. [FN104] They argue that the great threat pit bulls pose to public safety far outweighs the rights of responsible owners. [FN105]
2. Concerns Related to Human Behavior

Support for pit bull bans also identifies troubling human behavior. [FN106] The Denver ordinance notes that “pit bulls have been selectively bred for the purpose of dogfighting.” [FN107] This observation highlights two human-related problems: (1) humans using and abusing pit bulls for dogfights, and (2) irresponsible breeders producing aggressive dogs to supply the dogfighting world. [FN108] Moreover, Denver's ordinance points out that pit bulls are uniquely dangerous, “especially where improperly raised or trained”; [FN109] it thus recognizes that irresponsible ownership can exacerbate problems arising from a dog's genetic makeup. [FN110] California's ordinance, which allows for restrictions on breeding, cites the animal welfare and public safety problems that irresponsible breeders have created. [FN111] Acknowledging these troubling human behaviors, some ban proponents claim that alternatives, such as stronger animal control laws targeting human behavior, may be too expensive and difficult to enforce. [FN112] Furthermore, they argue that cities have “more important concerns” than attempting to *1295 enforce more stringent animal control laws. [FN113] Thus, they claim that bans are the most effective and efficient way to ensure public safety. [FN114]

B. Opposition to Pit Bull Bans

Those who oppose pit bull bans emphasize that the history of the pit bull does not support the conclusion that the dog is inherently dangerous. Rather, they argue that irresponsible owners are at the core of the problem. To that end, opponents favor legislation that encourages responsible ownership and applies to all breeds.
1. Concerns Related to Genetics

Ban opponents question the idea that the pit bull is inherently aggressive. They argue that the pit bull's reputation suffers from media overexposure, [FN115] which has increased the pit bull's popularity among irresponsible owners. The pit bull's former role as a gentle and beloved family pet belies the idea that the ferocity is an innate breed-wide trait. [FN116] Problems with unstable pit bulls only began surfacing in the 1980s; this suggests something other than genetics--perhaps human influence--is at work. [FN117]
Opponents also point out that fatal dog attacks are not actually on the rise; the total number of fatal dog attacks has remained constant, averaging about twenty per year. [FN118] Moreover, the breed responsible for the most fatal attacks has varied over the years, as the popularity of different breeds has varied. [FN119] For example, German Shepherds were responsible for the highest number of fatal attacks in the late 1970s, [FN120] while Great Danes took the lead in 1979 and 1980. [FN121] Rottweilers and pit bulls caused 60% of fatal attacks between 1997 *1296 and 1998. [FN122] Today, pit bulls seem to be responsible for the highest number; they have caused 45 of 145 fatal attacks since 1999. [FN123]

The numbers may seem dramatic, but experts have noted that the number of pit bulls participating in fatal attacks is miniscule in light of the millions of pit bulls that live in the United States. [FN124] Dr. Julie Gilchrist of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the problem of fatal pit bull attacks statistically insignificant. [FN125] Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist from Berkeley, California, quips that more people die every year “tripping over their own slippers” than from fatal dog attacks by all breeds. [FN126]
Moreover, tests show that the pit bull boasts a stable temperament. The breeds most commonly classified as pit bulls, [FN127] the American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and American Staffordshire terrier, all achieved above-average passing rates on the 2004 American Temperament Test, [FN128] at 84.1%, [FN129] 85.2%, [FN130] and 83.9%, [FN131] respectively. These percentages place the temperament of the pit bull breeds near or above that of the Golden Retriever, which achieved an 83.8% [FN132] passing rate on the test. The variation in breeds responsible *1297 for attacks over time, the temperament scores, and the pit bull's former reputation as an affable companion refute the assertion that pit bulls are naturally and universally aggressive. [FN133]

2. Concerns Related to Human Behavior
Opponents of pit bull bans argue that legislation should target human behavior, which is at the heart of the problem. [FN134] Breed is only one factor that determines whether a dog is likely to attack; [FN135] other factors include “sex, early experience, socialization, training, [medical and behavioral] health, reproductive status, quality of ownership and supervision, and victim behavior,” as well as genetics. [FN136] As Randall Lockwood of the Humane Society of the United States has noted, genetics is the only one of these factors that is “directly relevant” to pit bull bans, as bans regulate on the premise that all pit bulls are “genetically uniform and predictably aggressive enough to warrant special restrictions.” [FN137] But most of the factors that determine a dog's likelihood to attack are human ones. [FN138] Therefore, laws addressing a specific breed may not be the answer to public safety concerns about vicious dog attacks. [FN139]

C. The Human Behaviors Identified by the Ban Debate

A closer look at the factors cited in arguments for and against breed bans shows how greatly human behavior affects canine behavior. [FN140] Since humans began domesticating dogs, they have selected the physical and behavioral traits that they have desired in their canine companions.*1298 [FN141] In this manner, different dog breeds have emerged. [FN142] Whether through proper training and supervision, or through abuse and misuse, dog owners determine the manner in which their dogs behave. [FN143] Unfortunately, dogs often fall into the hands of cruel and irresponsible owners who abuse them in hopes of making them tough or mean. [FN144] Even well-intentioned owners may fail to properly socialize their dogs or make them part of the family. [FN145] The way irresponsible or even abusive dog owners treat their pets raises concerns of both animal welfare and public safety. [FN146]
1. Abuse and Irresponsibility: The Pit Bull's People Problem

Karen Delise, author of Fatal Dog Attacks, has stated, “For the past 20 years, Pit Bulls 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.” [FN147] The current popularity of the pit bull with criminals and other irresponsible owners has resulted in the creation of a number of unsound dogs. [FN148] The pit bull's once-revered characteristics of loyalty and tenacity have been manipulated by those looking for a dog to ruthlessly defend their homes [FN149] or make them rich by fighting to the death in dogfighting matches. [FN150] In the process of making their dogs vicious, these owners abuse their dogs in unthinkable ways. [FN151] This inhumane treatment can indeed make a pit bull (or any *1299 other breed of dog) aggressive and dangerous, thereby driving the pit bull's negative media image and fueling support for pit bull bans. [FN152]
a. Dogfighting and Other Misuse

The most abhorrent owners are those who abuse their pets in hopes of turning them into fighting dogs. [FN153] These owners show little regard for the well-being of their pets, and their inhumane treatment can indeed produce dogs with dangerous dispositions. [FN154] Unfortunately, due to extensive media exposure and the current popularity of the pit bull among those who are looking for a fierce dog, the pit bull suffers more unthinkable abuse and mistreatment than any other breed.
i. The dangerous world of dogfighting

The mistreatment of pit bulls and other breeds for the practice of dogfighting raises special concern, because a dog's propensity to attack is affected by quality of ownership and supervision, early experience, training, and socialization. In fact, much of the unease about the pit bull surrounds the dog's historical and current misuse in dogfighting. [FN155] For example, Denver cites as support for its ban that “pit bulls have been selectively bred for the purpose of dogfighting.” [FN156] Today, pit bulls are extremely popular among criminals who engage in dogfighting. [FN157] A closer look at this “sport” reveals alarming animal welfare and public safety concerns that municipalities have struggled to control.
A pit bull who has been bred and trained for dogfighting suffers a short and violent life. [FN158] Dogfighters subject their dogs to extraordinary*1300 abuse in order to make them vicious. [FN159] They may burn, hit, and stab the dogs. [FN160] They deprive their dogs of food, water, and shelter. [FN161] They may feed smaller dogs and other animals to their dogs so they learn to enjoy the taste of blood. [FN162] They may inject their dogs with steroids and other drugs to make them better fighters. [FN163] The dogs generally “live on chains their entire lives”; they are unsheltered from the elements and experience human contact only in the context of training or fighting. [FN164]

Dogfighting matches may last fifteen minutes or several hours. [FN165] Regardless of the match's outcome, both dogs generally end up losing. [FN166] During a dogfight, a dog may have its ears or its face ripped off. [FN167] It may even have its stomach ripped out. [FN168] If a dog refuses to fight or loses a fight, it is killed [FN169] or left to die. [FN170] “Winning” dogs also may sustain severe injuries from which they may not recover; they may die “hours or even days after the fight” from “blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection” from wounds sustained during the fight. [FN171]
Professional dogfighting is highly organized and pervasive throughout the country. [FN172] Internationally, it is a billion-dollar industry. [FN173] Professional dogfighters treat their dogs as business investments, as they stand to earn a hefty sum breeding a winning fighting dog, even if the dog is unable to survive after the fight. [FN174] Dogfights may occur in *1301 remote fields or in abandoned buildings with hundreds of people in attendance, [FN175] and they occur in both urban and rural areas. [FN176] The problem is not limited to the poor; doctors, lawyers, and teachers participate in dogfighting. [FN177] Many dogfighting participants are hobbyists, who wager on the fights but do not breed fighting dogs. [FN178] Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that children are often present at dogfighting matches, raising concerns about desensitizing children to violence and animal cruelty. [FN179]
Also troubling is street fighting, which is a growing problem among juveniles and gangs. [FN180] Street fighters engage their dogs in impromptu fights against rivals' dogs to prove their toughness and superiority. [FN181] Street fighters generally either steal their dogs or buy them from backyard breeders. [FN182] Dogs that fall into the hands of street fighters are subjected to severe abuse and mistreatment. [FN183] Even more alarming is that children as young as eight are subjecting their own dogs to street fights. [FN184] Evidence shows that these children have become *1302 highly desensitized to animal abuse and violence. [FN185] Most of them believe that cruel treatment of animals is the norm. [FN186]

ii. The glorification of dogfighting
Certainly, the glorification of dogfighting in the media and its endorsement by high-profile celebrities only exacerbate the problem. Rap stars glorify dogfighting in their videos. [FN187] Similarly, Nike advertisements have featured images of snarling and fighting pit bulls. [FN188] Moreover, high-profile sports figures have participated in animal cruelty and dogfighting. For example, Qyntel Woods of the Portland Trailblazers was found guilty of animal abuse after his dog was found abandoned in Portland, with wounds that appeared to be from dogfighting. [FN189] Woods also was arrested for leaving dogs outside without food, water, or shelter for days at a time in the middle of January. [FN190] Former NFL player Leshon Johnson was arrested on racketeering and conspiracy charges in connection with an Oklahoma dogfighting ring after police found more than eighty pit bulls--many injured, bleeding, and malnourished--at his residence. [FN191] Celebrity endorsement of the illegal activity greatly increases its popularity and contributes to further animal abuse. [FN192]

*1303 iii. Dogfighting laws and difficulty of enforcement
Dogfighting is a felony in every state except Idaho and Wyoming, where it remains a misdemeanor. [FN193] But enforcement has proven difficult, and prosecution has yielded such light punishment that police officers and prosecutors are reluctant to pursue offenders. [FN194] Additionally, professional dogfighting is so highly organized that fighting rings are difficult to infiltrate. [FN195] Organizers of professional fights often use police radios to monitor law enforcement activity in the area. [FN196] Spectators must show identification before entering, and armed guards keep watch over the venue. [FN197] Moreover, prosecutors must prove that a defendant intentionally used his or her dogs in dogfighting; evidence of fighting wounds is not enough because a defendant can simply claim that his or her dog unintentionally got into a scuffle with another dog. [FN198] Even if prosecution is successful, defendants generally face light punishment that fails to deter their behavior. [FN199] In one case, a dogfighter was arrested on charges of animal cruelty when police discovered evidence of dogfighting materials at his residence. [FN200] His dog was seized and euthanized, but he was sentenced to only six months of unsupervised probation. [FN201] Because dogfighting rings are so difficult to detect, and because prosecution is so unlikely to yield effective punishment, police officers and prosecutors generally focus on cases they know they can win. [FN202] Thus, this dangerous underworld continues to thrive.

*1304 The societal ills related to dogfighting run deep and wide. From illegal drugs and weapons to gang activity and animal abuse, the culture of dogfighting creates serious dangers to communities. [FN203] The practice also creates unstable animals that present a potential threat to anyone they encounter. [FN204] Some argue that opponents of breed bans contribute to this danger by allowing dogfighters their dog of choice. [FN205] Opponents point out that a pit bull ban would not deter dogfighters from obtaining pit bulls. [FN206] They note that dogfighters are generally not law-abiding citizens; instead, those who comply with breed bans are responsible owners who have registered, socialized, and trained their dogs. [FN207] Therefore, the dogs being confiscated and destroyed are the well-behaved ones, while the aggressive and unstable pit bulls continue to be bred under the control of these criminal owners. [FN208] Moreover, even if dogfighters were to lose access to pit bulls, their lust for dogfighting is not likely to subside--they would simply find another breed to abuse and make aggressive. [FN209] Therefore, a breed ban would only shift the problem of dogfighting and vicious dog attacks to another breed. [FN210] Instead of a ban, tough enforcement of dogfighting laws that target the abusive humans participating in the practice is required to address both the dogfighting epidemic and the resulting dangers to the community. [FN211]
b. Irresponsible Breeding

Even a dog's genetics and heredity are largely controlled by human behavior. [FN212] Humans mold breeds of dogs by selecting the different behaviors and physical traits they desire. [FN213] Humans continue to control the behavior and physical traits of their dogs in this way. [FN214] Irresponsible breeding can create unhealthy, unstable, and dangerous dogs. [FN215] This problem is closely related to the problem of dogfighting, *1305 as those who breed aggressive dogs usually do so to supply the dogfighting industry. [FN216]
Some supporters of bans argue that the nature of pit bulls makes them more akin to wild animals than household pets. If people are not allowed to keep tigers or bears as pets, the argument goes, they should not be able to keep pit bulls either. [FN217] But pit bulls are not, in fact, wild animals; dog breeds have been manipulated by humans. [FN218] When a dog displays a particular behavioral trait, it is because man, intentionally or not, has bred the dog in a way that encourages that trait to continue. [FN219] Thus, if a dog displays aggression, one must look to the human behavior that has enabled that aggression to exist. Simply eliminating a single breed will not prevent those who want an aggressive dog from developing this trait in another breed.

Man's desire for aggressive, “macho” dogs has indeed created some pit bulls with unstable temperaments. [FN220] As the dogfighting industry continues to flourish, irresponsible breeders continue to breed bigger, stronger, and more aggressive dogs to supply the cruel sport. [FN221] In the past, pit bulls were bred to be exceedingly friendly. [FN222] Today, aggression and other similar characteristics are highly coveted by certain owners, and dogs are therefore bred for these traits. [FN223] These irresponsible breeding practices threaten public safety and the future of the pit bull by encouraging unstable temperaments and eliminating sound ones. [FN224]
Irresponsible breeding also contributes to the pet overpopulation crisis. Unchecked breeding has landed countless pit bulls in local animal shelters. [FN225] For example, 40% of dogs in Los Angeles shelters and 33% of dogs in San Francisco shelters are pit bulls. [FN226] Most of *1306 them are euthanized. [FN227] In fact, an estimated three million pit bulls are euthanized across the country every year. [FN228] Moreover, many pit bulls are abandoned on streets and in alleyways if they fail to display the requisite will to fight. [FN229] In 1999, over four thousand injured and abandoned pit bulls were found on the streets of Philadelphia alone. [FN230]

As is the case with underground dogfighters, a pit bull ban is unlikely to deter irresponsible breeders who profit from breeding pit bulls with aggressive temperaments. [FN231] While countless responsible pet owners turn their docile pit bulls over to the authorities, these breeders will continue to produce dangerous animals. [FN232] Thus, pit bull bans may eliminate stable dogs and punish responsible owners, while unstable temperaments continue to develop in the hands of these breeders. [FN233]
Pit bull bans also fail to consider how responsible human behavior can have a positive effect on canine genetics. Aggression, like all other behavioral traits, can be greatly lessened or eliminated in a breed through selective, responsible breeding. [FN234] For example, both Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds were once well known for their fierce, aggressive temperaments. [FN235] Yet once this trait became undesirable, breeders began to select against it. [FN236] Today, both breeds are popular dogs, but without the ferocious temperaments that they once possessed. [FN237] Instead of bans, laws and programs that encourage responsible breeding can ensure that all dogs are bred with the best interests of the dog and the public in mind. [FN238]

*1307 c. Irresponsible Ownership
Legislative reasoning behind pit bull bans also acknowledges the great public safety risk that an irresponsible dog owner can pose. [FN239] Moreover, “quality of ownership and supervision,” “socialization,” and “reproductive status” are important factors that determine a dog's likelihood to attack. [FN240] Even if an owner does not physically abuse his or her dog to the extent that a dogfighter or other criminal might, irresponsible or indifferent treatment of a dog can constitute inhumane behavior that may in turn create a public safety risk. [FN241]

i. Socialization and chaining
A lack of socialization can produce an unpredictable and dangerous dog. Dogs are social creatures that require human contact. [FN242] Without it, a dog may become anxious and withdrawn or aggressive. [FN243] Adding to the danger is the fact that owners who do not interact with their dogs are unaware of their dog's temperament. Owners who do not know their dogs' temperament cannot know how the dogs will react to children or strangers. [FN244] Thus, any interaction with a dog who is not truly a family pet can present a risk. [FN245]

Banishing one's dog from the family home and chaining it to a tree presents a unique animal welfare and public safety danger. [FN246] A chained dog is denied necessary opportunities for exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, and bonding with its owner. [FN247] It may become bored and frustrated with its lack of mobility. [FN248] Moreover, chained dogs have been known to hang themselves by jumping over fences in an attempt to escape their confinement. [FN249] Additionally, a *1308 dog's chain may sometimes become embedded in the animal's skin, causing great pain to the animal and creating a safety risk to anyone encountering the injured dog. [FN250]
The loneliness, frustration, and pain that chained dogs endure create a dangerous situation. Chained dogs are often very territorial because their space is limited and clearly defined. [FN251] A chained dog is likely to feel particularly threatened if a human comes close to this defined space. [FN252] In fact, chained dogs are more likely to bite than unchained dogs. [FN253] Given the effects of chaining on a dog's physical and mental well-being, as well as the statistics on attacks, chaining puts the public at a great risk. [FN254] Pit bull bans fail to target this human behavior, and therefore allow an irresponsible person to own any other breed of dog. [FN255] This inattention to the importance of owner responsibility creates an untenable animal welfare and public safety situation. [FN256]

ii. Spaying and neutering
A dog's reproductive status is a strong indicator of the dog's likelihood to attack. [FN257] Unaltered dogs (those which have not been spayed or neutered) react to hormonal urges and are much more likely to bite than are altered dogs. [FN258] Unaltered male dogs are 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs. [FN259] In fact, 95% of dogs involved in attacks since 1999 were unaltered. [FN260] In light of the current overpopulation crisis and the behavioral problems caused by leaving a dog unaltered, there is little reason outside of legitimate breeding purposes not to spay or neuter one's dog. [FN261]

*1309 California has departed from the standard approach by enacting legislation that allows breed-specific regulation of spaying, neutering, and breeding only. [FN262] The state's ordinance acknowledges the unique dangers presented by unaltered dogs and irresponsible breeding. [FN263] The pit bull bans in Cincinnati and Miami-Dade County do not cite sterilization as a concern. [FN264] These bans fail to address the importance of a dog's reproductive status as a factor contributing to attacks. Although California's ordinance allows for breed-specific restrictions, it also targets human behavior by controlling irresponsible breeding and requiring sterilization. Ideally, laws that address spaying and neutering of all breeds can be passed to reduce dog attacks driven by hormonal urges.
iii. Unsupervised children and dogs

The protection of children is often a special concern driving pit bull bans. Children are overwhelmingly the most frequent victims of serious dog attacks. [FN265] Because of their small size, they are less able to protect themselves from an attacking dog. [FN266] The size difference also means that an attacking dog is more likely to bite a child in a critical area such as the face or neck, while an adult is more likely to be bitten on the leg or thigh. [FN267] Finally, a child is less likely than an adult to understand warning signs from an aggravated dog or recognize that his or her behavior may appear threatening to a dog. [FN268]
Because children face a higher risk of attack, no young child should ever be left unsupervised with a dog of any breed. [FN269] Even the Pomeranian, a dog with an average weight of three to seven pounds, [FN270] has *1310 been responsible for a fatal attack on a child. [FN271] Numerous attacks on children have occurred while the child was unsupervised. [FN272] Pit bull bans do not address the danger of adults failing to supervise interactions between children and dogs; they identify the dog as the sole culprit. But just as a child may not know that his or her behavior may provoke a dog, a dog cannot be expected to understand that a child who is teasing it does not present a threat. [FN273] Only an adult is equipped with the requisite mental capacity to understand the true nature of an interaction between a dog and a young child. [FN274] Animal control legislation that reflects the importance of adult supervision is necessary to ensure that dog owners are held accountable for the supervision of their animals when children are present. [FN275]

2. Concerns About the Failure of Breed Bans to Address Human Behavior
Laws that ignore the role of human behavior create a false sense of security and are ineffective and expensive. [FN276] These bans unfairly discriminate against specific breeds of dogs and responsible dog owners. [FN277] Human behavior is at the core of the dog bite problem; therefore, a ban on a specific dog breed will not help decrease dog bites. [FN278] Breed bans allow the human problems driving aggressive dog behavior to fester as different breeds bear the punishment for their owners' behavior. [FN279] Moreover, breed bans send the wrong message to the community by failing to encourage responsible human behavior. [FN280]

a. The Cyclical Effect of Irresponsible Human Behavior
Many opponents of pit bull bans point out that the current controversy surrounding the pit bull points to a much larger social problem *1311 that cannot be fixed with a breed ban. [FN281] Animal abuse and dogfighting, as well as related crimes like drug and weapons trafficking and violence against humans, are deeply ingrained in our society. [FN282] Moreover, the problems of animal abuse and animal aggression appear to occur in a vicious cycle. Dogs that are abused and misused may become aggressive. This aggressive nature helps create their tough and dangerous image and helps cultivate their popularity among owners who are looking for a tough dog. [FN283] These owners will get a dog that they believe fits this image and abuse the dog to intensify its aggression. [FN284] As the cycle continues over time, the human behavior does not change; the only change is the breed of dog caught in the cycle. [FN285] Until irresponsible behavior is targeted, this cycle of animal abuse and aggression will continue. [FN286] Irresponsible breeders will continue to foster only the most aggressive behaviors in their dogs, whatever the breed. [FN287] Dogfight participants will continue to abuse their dogs to intensify their vicious temperaments. [FN288] Irresponsible owners will fail to make their dogs a part of the family, and cast the dog out to the backyard where it becomes frustrated and unstable. [FN289] An aggressive dog will attack an unsuspecting child. [FN290] The community will be horrified, and the public will cry out for a breed ban. [FN291] Even if the breed is successfully eradicated, breeders, fighters, and irresponsible owners will develop aggressive traits in yet another breed and mistreat those dogs until they are unstable and unsafe. [FN292] The breed responsible for the highest number of attacks will change, but the number of attacks will not.

b. Sending the Wrong Message
Those most affected by pit bull bans are the responsible owners who have properly trained, socialized, registered, and raised their *1312 dogs. [FN293] These owners tend to obey the law while criminal and irresponsible owners ignore it. [FN294] In light of the dangers created by irresponsible owners, it is particularly troubling that breed bans prevent responsible owners from keeping their dogs. As a policy matter, breed bans seem to send the wrong message. [FN295] Breed bans neither encourage responsible owner behavior nor discourage irresponsible behavior; they render responsible ownership irrelevant. [FN296] Taking the time to socialize one's dog, taking it to obedience training, having it spayed or neutered, and keeping it under control are punishable behaviors in a jurisdiction that has a breed ban. [FN297] To make owner responsibility irrelevant when setting animal control policy does nothing to foster safe interactions between people and dogs.

3. Evidence That Breed Bans Are Ineffective and Expensive
Despite the current popularity of breed bans, there is substantial evidence that the laws are ineffective and costly. Denver city officials estimate that 4500 pit bulls still live in the city. [FN298] Miami-Dade County is home to an estimated 50,000 pit bulls, despite its ban. [FN299] In addition, there is evidence that the bans have dissuaded responsible owners from owning the breed. [FN300] Therefore, the pit bull population in these areas lies primarily in the hands of irresponsible owners. [FN301] In fact, the banning of a specific breed arguably reinforces that breed's “tough” image among irresponsible owners in search of a status symbol. [FN302] Moreover, there is no evidence that pit bull bans can actually reduce the number of attacks in a community. [FN303]

Evidence also exists that breed bans are expensive and difficult to enforce. [FN304] There are many inherent difficulties in attempting to identify a pit bull. [FN305] Because the pit bull is not an actual breed, it is difficult*1313 to determine which mix and proportion of physical and genetic features constitutes an actual pit bull. [FN306] Some cities' physical descriptions of a pit bull are very broad, naming features that are shared by many breeds. [FN307] Costly litigation generally ensues when a community tries to enforce a breed ban against a dog that the owners claim is not a pit bull. [FN308] All the while, the community must pay for the dog to be housed at an animal shelter while the litigation continues. [FN309] Often, the dog's past behavior is not in question. [FN310] Therefore, communities often face this costly litigation and housing process for a dog who presents no actual threat to the community. [FN311] Prince George's County considered, but later rejected, a repeal of its pit bull ban when a task force found that it was difficult to enforce. [FN312] These difficulties resulted in expensive impoundment fees and litigation. [FN313] The task force also found that the ban was removing well-behaved dogs from responsible homes, while not catching irresponsible owners and dangerous dogs. [FN314] Nevertheless, the council voted to retain the ban without comment. [FN315]

IV. Impact

Breed bans are spreading rapidly, as pit bull attacks continue to get extensive coverage in the news. The continued controversy and debate draw more attention to the question of whether a breed ban can truly make a community safer. This Part looks at the spread of breed *1314 bans throughout the country and proposes regulatory alternatives to protect communities and animals alike. [FN316]

A. The Spread of Breed Bans

Today, more and more communities are following the leads of cities such as Denver and Cincinnati in enacting breed bans. The controversy and media attention surrounding pit bull attacks mean that communities throughout the nation are clamoring to protect their citizens through breed bans. [FN317] This trend may create a false sense of security in communities, when in fact dogs of any breed may be dangerous. [FN318] At the same time, well-behaved pit bulls are being taken away from responsible owners and destroyed. [FN319] Some owners are fleeing cities that have enacted breed bans so that they can keep their pets. [FN320] As breed bans spread throughout the country, “evidence is mounting that breed-specific legislation doesn't work.” [FN321]

B. Alternatives to Breed Bans

Protecting communities from dangerous dogs is an important and necessary goal requiring the full attention of local governments. [FN322] Breed bans, however, do not seem to be the most effective solution. By leaving the human behavioral elements unchecked, bans fail to adequately protect the safety of communities and animals. Several proposed alternatives would address the root of the problem and help eradicate animal abuse and dangerous dog attacks. These alternatives involve a combination of legislation and community education. [FN323]
*1315 1. Passage and Enforcement of Laws Targeting Human Behavior

First, local authorities must make enforcement of existing animal cruelty and animal control laws a priority. [FN324] Authorities can take stock of existing legislation to determine what types of laws are already on the books. [FN325] Proper enforcement of existing leash laws and other animal control laws can reduce the number of dog attacks by all breeds. [FN326] Moreover, animal control laws should also address the importance of adult supervision for children interacting with dogs. [FN327] Laws against chaining would protect both the community and dogs from the consequences of the practice. [FN328] Passage of these laws will send a message to dog owners that humane and responsible pet ownership and supervision is important. [FN329] Enforcement of animal control and cruelty laws must be consistent, and the penalties must be stiff enough to deter irresponsible owners. [FN330] The existence of stiff penalties may also persuade dog owners to seek professional obedience training for their pets. [FN331] Penalties should be more severe for repeat offenders; the most egregious offenders should not be allowed to keep their pets or acquire new ones. [FN332]
Community protection also requires local governments to recognize the scope of the dogfighting problem and aggressively prosecute those *1316 who participate in this cruel “sport.” [FN333] As with other animal control and cruelty laws, a lack of enforcement cripples the effectiveness of dogfighting laws. [FN334] Although dogfighting is a felony in forty-eight states, officers require better resources to allow them to investigate dogfighting rings. [FN335] Currently, most police departments do not teach officers how to investigate and gather evidence for successful dogfighting prosecutions. [FN336] A substantial effort to inform citizens of the prevalence and danger of dogfighting can get the community involved in uncovering dogfighting rings. [FN337] For example, the Nebraska Humane Society has a dogfighting hotline where citizens can report suspected dogfighting activity; tipsters can remain anonymous and collect a cash reward. [FN338] Because of the difficulty in uncovering dogfighting rings, cooperation between authorities and the community is crucial. [FN339]

2. Sterilization Programs and Breeder Licensing Requirements
Strategies for encouraging safe interactions between people and dogs should address the importance of sterilizing one's pet. Educational programs and laws that encourage owners to spay and neuter their dogs can help reduce pet overpopulation and alleviate sexual aggression in canines. [FN340] Some communities charge higher licensing fees for unaltered dogs and provide low cost spay and neuter programs, making sterilization both socially responsible and financially attractive. [FN341] Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of dogs that *1317 bite are unaltered. [FN342] Therefore, education programs and laws that encourage or require spaying or neutering for dogs that have displayed aggressive tendencies seem to be a logical step in limiting dog bites.

Additionally, tighter control over breeding practices can help ensure that only sound temperaments will be selected for continuation. [FN343] Prohibitions on the pit bull cannot dissuade those who breed for extreme aggression from fostering that trait in another breed. Rather than focusing on certain dog breeds, laws must focus on allowing only responsible people to act as dog breeders, [FN344] perhaps through a screening process. [FN345] Laws requiring breeding licenses can help eliminate unsound and aggressive dogs by restricting the privilege of dog breeding to those who will do so with only the best interests of the breed and the community in mind.
3. Better Screening Process for Potential Dog Owners

The problem can also be alleviated by restricting dog ownership. Eric Sakach of the Humane Society of the United States has proposed that offering dogs to minors for sale or adoption be made illegal. [FN346] He has also proposed that those on probation or parole for violent or drug-related crimes be forbidden from owning or living with a dog. [FN347] He points out that the threat of a revoked probation may be effective in keeping dogs out of the hands of drug dealers and other criminals. [FN348] Unlike a breed ban, these approaches attach restrictions to unfit owners, not a particular breed of dog. Therefore, these proposed restrictions properly emphasize responsible ownership of all dog breeds.
4. Community Education and Research

A community outreach program that educates the public about responsible dog ownership, humane animal treatment, and safe human-canine interactions can be a valuable tool in fighting a dog aggression *1318 problem. [FN349] Programs for children and adults can teach potential owners about the importance of socialization and training in raising a pet. [FN350] These programs can also educate potential owners about the role of gender and reproductive status in aggression, thereby allowing them to make educated choices about the pets that are right for their household. [FN351]
Making prevention a priority also requires active researching and reporting to identify dog bite trends and statistics in the community. [FN352] This information is vital to developing effective legislation, [FN353] and requires gathering information after a dog bite occurs and investigating all of the circumstances that led to the bite. Instead of passing a breed ban, a community that truly wants to make its citizens safer must be willing to invest time and resources into a comprehensive plan to address the problem of dog attacks. [FN354]

V. Conclusion

There is no question that the reduction of dog bites is an important issue that requires government attention and action. Breed bans, however, gloss over the complexity of the issue and apply a superficial fix to an expansive problem. The proper attention to the pit bull problem requires the study of regulatory alternatives that will root out the causes of the problem, rather than the symptoms. Irresponsible human actions will continue to produce dangerous dogs as long as legislation leaves human conduct unchecked. Banning an entire breed from existence will not alter irresponsible human behavior, nor will it reduce the number of dangerous dogs resulting from this behavior. A true solution requires bringing the issue of irresponsible and inhumane ownership to the forefront.
Communities cannot continue to cite the protection of citizens from dangerous animals as a paramount concern, while at the same time declaring that they have “more important concerns” than making the enforcement of animal control laws a priority. [FN355] Responsible dog ownership must be made a socially significant issue on which communities are willing to spend time and resources. As Lockwood has said, *1319 “This is a social issue, it's a law enforcement issue, but it's not a dog issue.” [FN356] Until it is treated as such, the safety of the public and the welfare of its animals will remain unprotected.

[FN1]. Karen Delise, Fatal Dog Attacks: The Stories Behind the Statistics 29 (2002).

[FN2]. Id.; Ozzie Foreman, Dogowner's Guide: Banned in Cincinnati, (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN3]. Foreman, supra note 2.

[FN4]. Delise, supra note 1, at 29.

[FN5]. See Foreman, supra note 2.

[FN6]. See Delise, supra note 1, at 29.

[FN7]. Id.

[FN8]. Id.

[FN9]. Id. at 29-30.

[FN10]. Id. at 30.

[FN11]. Id.

[FN12]. The pit bull is not a breed of dog. Rather, “pit bull” is a term used to describe several dog breeds, most commonly the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and mixed breeds of these dogs. See Randall Lockwood & Kate Rindy, Are “Pit Bulls” Different? An Analysis of the Pit Bull Terrier Controversy, Anthrozoös, Jan. 1987, at 2.

[FN13]. See Judy Cohen & John Richardson, Pit Bull Panic, 36 J. Popular Culture 285, 285-87 (2002) (discussing how the media's negative portrayal of the pit bull affects public perceptions of pit bulls and pit bull-related incidents).

[FN14]. See Karyn Grey, Comment, Breed-Specific Legislation Revisited: Canine Racism or the Answer to Florida's Dog Control Problems?, 27 Nova L. Rev. 415, 417 (2003).

[FN15]. See Steve Dale, Pit Bulls in the City: A Revealing Discussion on Breed Specific Legislation, Surprising Comments from the Director for the Center for the Human Animal Bond, Part Two, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN16]. See, e.g., Randall Lockwood, Humane Concerns About Dangerous-Dog Laws, 13 U. Dayton L. Rev. 267, 275-76 (1988).

[FN17]. See Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 2.

[FN18]. See Devin Burstein, Breed Specific Legislation: Unfair Prejudice and Ineffective Policy, 10 Animal L. 313, 314 (2004).

[FN19]. See Tim Jones, Restrictions on Pit Bulls Gaining Momentum, Chi. Trib., Oct. 5, 2005, at C11.

[FN20]. See Dale, supra note 15.

[FN21]. Jeffrey J. Sacks et al., Breeds of Dogs Involved in Fatal Human Attacks in the United States Between 1979 and 1998, 217 J. Am. Veterinary Med. Ass'n 836, 839 (2000).

[FN22]. Id.

[FN23]. See Denver, Colo., City Council Bill No. 434 (1989) (citing the fact that pit bulls were “selectively bred for the purpose of dogfighting” as one reason for the ordinance); Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122330 (West 2007) (citing “uncontrolled and irresponsible breeding” as one reason for the ordinance).

[FN24]. See Tiesha Higgins, Council Revisits Pit Bull Ban, Gazette.Net (Sept. 15, 2005), 31887.shtml. The County Council considered repealing a pit bull ban in Prince George's County, Maryland, after a task force found that the ordinance was ineffective and expensive. Id. The County Council eventually voted against the repeal without debate. Ovetta Wiggins, Pr. George's Council Keeps Ban on Pit Bulls, Wash. Post, Oct. 26, 2005, at B4.

[FN25]. See Julie Richard, Dangerous Breeds?, Best Friends, Sept.-Oct. 2004, at 12, 14.

[FN26]. See id. at 13-14 (discussing how the breed responsible for the highest number of fatal attacks has varied over the years as the popularity of different breeds fluctuates).

[FN27]. See infra notes 30-86 and accompanying text.

[FN28]. See infra notes 87-315 and accompanying text.

[FN29]. See infra notes 316-354 and accompanying text.

[FN30]. See Adam J. Fumarola, With Best Friends Like Us Who Needs Enemies? The Phenomenon of the Puppy Mill, the Failure of Legal Regimes to Manage It, and the Positive Prospects of Animal Rights, 6 Buff. Envtl. L.J. 253, 257 (1999).

[FN31]. See infra notes 234-236 and accompanying text.

[FN32]. See infra notes 63-86 and accompanying text.

[FN33]. See infra notes 35-62 and accompanying text.

[FN34]. See infra notes 63-86 and accompanying text.

[FN35]. Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 3.

[FN36]. Delise, supra note 1, at 83-84; Joe Stahlkuppe, The American Pit Bull Terrier Handbook 25 (2000).

[FN37]. Delise, supra note 1, at 84.

[FN38]. Id.

[FN39]. See Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 3.

[FN40]. Id.

[FN41]. Delise, supra note 1, at 84.

[FN42]. Stahlkuppe, supra note 36, at 26.

[FN43]. Id. at 29.

[FN44]. Bad Rap: Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN45]. See id.

[FN46]. See, e.g., Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Pit Bulls Get Bad Rap (Feb. 5, 2004),

[FN47]. See Bad Rap, supra note 44.

[FN48]. See, e.g., Patsy Ann: Famous Alaskan Bull Terrier, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN49]. First Company, Connecticut Governor's Foot Guard, A Connecticut Hero: Sgt. Stubby, (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN50]. Id.

[FN51]. Off the Chain: A Shocking Exposé on America's Forsaken Breed (Off the Chain Productions 2005) [hereinafter Off the Chain].

[FN52]. Id.; see also Delise, supra note 1, at 84.

[FN53]. See Bad Rap, supra note 44.

[FN54]. Cohen & Richardson, supra note 13, at 285 (quoting Inara Verzemnieks, Pit Bullish on Their Pets; Owners of Controversial Breed Stand by Their Dogs, Wash. Post, Aug. 19, 1996, at B1).

[FN55]. Id.

[FN56]. Editorial, Let's Outlaw Killer Dogs, Denver Post, June 12, 1989.

[FN57]. See generally E.M. Swift, The Pit Bull, Friend or Killer?, Sports Illustrated, July 27, 1987, at 72 (discussing the pit bull's former reputation for affability and current reputation for aggressiveness).

[FN58]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN59]. See Richard, supra note 25, at 16.

[FN60]. Steve Dale, Pit Bulls in the City: A Revealing Discussion on Breed Specific Legislation, Surprising Comments from the Director for the Center for the Human Animal Bond, Part One, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN61]. Kerry Dougherty, Opinion, Pit Bulls Have Earned Their Bad Reputation, Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 6, 2005, at B1, available at http://

[FN62]. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 839.

[FN63]. Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN64]. Elizabeth Weise, Pit Bull: Canine Non Grata, USA Today, Aug. 22, 2005, at 6D, available at

[FN65]. Animal Care and Control--Frequently Asked Questions, http:// tabid/377943/Default.aspx (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN66]. Denver, Colo., Revised Mun. Code § 8-55 (1989).

[FN67]. Associated Press, Denver Pit Bull Owners in a Panic over Ban (July 21, 2005),

[FN68]. Id.

[FN69]. Animal Care and Control, supra note 65.

[FN70]. See id.

[FN71]. Denver, Colo., City Council Bill No. 434 (1989).

[FN72]. Id.

[FN73]. Cincinnati, Ohio, Mun. Code § 701-6(2) (2003); Miami-Dade County, Fla., Code § 5-17.6(b) (2003).

[FN74]. Miami-Dade County, Fla., Code § 5-17.6(b).

[FN75]. Id. § 5-17.

[FN76]. Cincinnati, Ohio, Mun. Code § 701-1-V.

[FN77]. Id. § 701-6(2).

[FN78]. Id. §§ 701-6, 701-8 to -9.

[FN79]. Spaying is a procedure by which a female dog's reproductive organs are removed; neutering is a procedure by which a male dog's testicles are removed. Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet, Humane Society of the United States, pet.html (last visited June 17, 2007). Pets who have not been spayed or neutered tend to “exhibit more behavior and temperament problems than do those who have been spayed or neutered.” Id. A spayed or neutered dog is less likely to bite or get into fights with other dogs. Id.

[FN80]. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122331(a) (West 2007).

[FN81]. Id.

[FN82]. See id.

[FN83]. Id.

[FN84]. See id.

[FN85]. Id. § 122331(b).

[FN86]. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122330.

[FN87]. See infra notes 89-275 and accompanying text.

[FN88]. See infra notes 276-315 and accompanying text.

[FN89]. See infra note 97 and accompanying text.

[FN90]. See infra note 105 and accompanying text.

[FN91]. See infra notes 106-114 and accompanying text.

[FN92]. See, e.g., Miami-Dade County, Fla., Code § 5-17 (2003).

[FN93]. See, e.g., id.

[FN94]. Denver, Colo., City Council Bill No. 434.

[FN95]. Id.

[FN96]. Prince George's County, Md., County Council Bill No. CB-106-1996 (1996).

[FN97]. See Jones, supra note 19.

[FN98]. Sallyanne K. Sullivan, Banning the Pit Bull: Why Breed-Specific Legislation Is Consitutional, 13 U. Dayton L. Rev. 279, 283-84 (1988) (discussing incidents in which pit bulls have attacked their owners and stating that they should not be trusted as pets).

[FN99]. Id. at 283-84.

[FN100]. See Kory A. Nelson, Denver's Pit Bull Ordinance: An Overview of the Court's Rulings, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007) (quoting Colo. Dog Fancier, Inc. v. City & County of Denver, 820 P.2d 644 (Colo. 1991)).

[FN101]. See C.W. Nevius, We Need Tough Laws on Pit Bulls, S.F. Chron., June 11, 2005, available at c/a/2005/06/11/BAG1AD78041.DTL.

[FN102]. See id.

[FN103]. See id.

[FN104]. See id.

[FN105]. Sullivan, supra note 98, at 288.

[FN106]. See Jeff Kass, Denver Pit Bull Ban Draws Dog Lovers' Ire, Boston Globe, July 6, 2005, at A3, available at http:// lovers_ire/ (quoting Denver City Councilwoman Carol Boigon as saying that the problem with pit bulls is that they are “used for dogfighting and to protect drug premises,” and “[t]hey're trained to be rough”).

[FN107]. Denver, Colo., City Council Bill No. 434 (1989) (internal quotation marks omitted).

[FN108]. See Richard, supra note 25, at 14.

[FN109]. Denver, Colo., City Council Bill No. 434.

[FN110]. See id.; see also Lockwood, supra note 16, at 270 (stating that a dog with a predisposition for aggression may present little threat in the hands of a responsible owner, while a dog with no innate tendency toward aggression may nonetheless present a danger in the hands of an irresponsible owner).

[FN111]. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122330 (West 2007).

[FN112]. Kass, supra note 106. For example, some have suggested that increased “penalties for dogs that are caught running loose” or otherwise causing problems will be too expensive. Id.

[FN113]. Id.

[FN114]. See id.

[FN115]. See Cohen & Richardson, supra note 13, at 285-86 (discussing the negative portrayal of the pit bull in the media). Cohen and Richardson noted that when they worked at an animal shelter, the majority of pit bulls that came in were strays who had been used as status symbols and fought on the street. Id.

[FN116]. See Jones, supra note 19 (contrasting the pit bull's twentieth-century image with its image today).

[FN117]. See Lockwood, supra note 16, at 275-76.

[FN118]. Erin McCormick & Todd Wallack, Data on Pit Bulls May Be Skewed by Popularity, S.F. Chron., July 3, 2005, at A21, available at http://

[FN119]. Id.; see also Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 839.

[FN120]. McCormick & Wallack, supra note 118.

[FN121]. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 839.

[FN122]. Id.

[FN123]. McCormick & Wallack, supra note 118. Because there is neither a central reporting system for dog bites in the United States, nor an accurate population count of different dog breeds, it is difficult to calculate the rate of dog bites by breed. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 838-39. These factors, coupled with the difficulty of identifying a breed with scientific accuracy, mean that data on breed-specific bites may not always be probative of which breeds pose the highest bite risk. Id. The number of dog bites attributable to a specific breed are likely to increase with the breed's popularity. See id. (stating that Rottweiler-related deaths have increased with the dog's popularity).

[FN124]. See Dale, supra note 15.

[FN125]. Id.

[FN126]. Id.

[FN127]. See Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 2.

[FN128]. ATTS, American Temperament Test Society, Inc., TT Test Description, (last visited June 17, 2007) (“The ATTS Temperament Test focuses on and measures different aspects of temperament such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness as well as the dog's instinct for protectiveness towards its handler and/or self-preservation in the face of a threat.”). The test evaluates a dog's response to both friendly and hostile “visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli.” Id. During the test, a handler takes the dog on a simulated walk on a loose leash. Id. The dog is evaluated under ten “subtests” for behaviors such as reaction to strangers, reactions to unexpected noises such as gun shots, and propensity to investigate unexpected sights and sounds encountered along the way. Id. The dog fails a subtest if it displays “unprovoked aggression,” “panic without recovery,” or “strong avoidance.” Id.

[FN129]. ATTS, American Temperament Test Society, Inc., ATTS Breed Statistics (Dec. 2006),

[FN130]. ATTS, American Temperament Test Society, Inc., ATTS Breed Statistics (Dec. 2006),

[FN131]. ATTS, American Temperament Test Society, Inc., supra note 128.

[FN132]. ATTS, American Temperament Test Society, Inc., ATTS Breed Statistics (Dec. 2006),

[FN133]. See Marcy Setter, Punish the Deed, Not the Breed, Pit Bull Educ. Packet (2004), available at

[FN134]. See Maryann Mott, Breed-Specific Bans Spark Constitutional Dogfight, Nat'l Geographic News, June 17, 2004, available at http://

[FN135]. Jeff Kass, Denver's Pit Bull Ban Roils Owners, Christian Sci. Monitor, June 17, 2005, at USA 01, available at http:// (quoting Stephanie Shane, spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States).

[FN136]. Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 839; see also Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 7.

[FN137]. Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12.

[FN138]. Id.

[FN139]. Lockwood, supra note 16, at 276-77 (stating that “companion animal problems are ultimately the result of human ignorance and greed” and that laws addressing the dog-bite problem must therefore address human behavior); see also Randall Lockwood, The Ethology and Epidemiology of Canine Aggression, in The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour, and Interactions with People 131, 134 (James Serpell ed., 1995) [hereinafter Lockwood, Canine Aggression] (stating that the “multiplicity of interacting factors in dog bite makes it difficult and often meaningless to base predictions of a particular animal's aggressive behavior on a single characteristic, such as breed”).

[FN140]. See supra note 116 and accompanying text.

[FN141]. Lockwood, Canine Aggression, supra note 139, at 132.

[FN142]. Id.

[FN143]. See Setter, supra note 133, at 3.

[FN144]. See Burstein, supra note 18, at 323-24.

[FN145]. See Lockwood, Canine Aggression, supra note 139, at 134 (stating that a dog's socialization and quality of supervision “strongly influence[ ]” a dog's propensity to attack).

[FN146]. See supra note 116 and accompanying text.

[FN147]. Delise, supra note 1, at 85.

[FN148]. Stahlkuppe, supra note 36, at 8.

[FN149]. In 1988, the San Diego Police Department reported that its officers encountered pit bulls being used as guard dogs in two out of three drug raids. Steven F. Viegas et al., Pit Bull Attack: Case Report and Literature Review, Tex. Med., Nov. 1988, at 40.

[FN150]. See Stahlkuppe, supra note 36, at 9.

[FN151]. The online animal cruelty database tracks reports of animal abuse and organizes the information by animal., Database of Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases, database.php (last visited June 17, 2007). The database divides abuse against dogs into two categories: pit bulls and all others. Id. New stories of abuse on pit bulls appear nearly daily, including stories about pit bulls being thrown out of apartment windows to their deaths, pit bulls being burned or starved to death, and pit bulls being kept and abused for dogfighting. See, Animal Abuse Database, Search Results, (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN152]. See Stahlkuppe, supra note 36, at 9 (discussing how the public's fear of the pit bull has increased the popularity of the dogs as status symbols among gang members and criminals, and has driven municipalities to ban the dogs).

[FN153]. See infra notes 159-171 and accompanying text.

[FN154]. See infra note 204 and accompanying text.

[FN155]. See, e.g., Kass, supra note 106 (quoting Denver councilwoman Carol Boison as saying that “[t]he problem is when you have a specific breed used for dogfighting”).

[FN156]. Denver, Colo., City Council Bill No. 434 (1989) (internal quotation marks omitted).

[FN157]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN158]. See Rebecca Simmons, Dog Eat Dog: The Bloodthirsty Underworld of Dogfighting, the_bloodthirsty_underworld_of_dogfighting.html (last visited June 17, 2007) (discussing the miserable life of a fighting pit bull and noting that “every fight has the potential to be a dog's last”). The article describes evidence of a pit bull fighting operation, providing some insight into the life of a fighting dog: “Scarred pit bulls [living] on painfully short chains, tires designed to strengthen dogs' jaws hung from trees, treadmills to increase endurance, and, most chillingly, pits that hold dogs while they maul each other until one of the animals is unwilling, or unable, to continue.” Id.

[FN159]. The Reality of Dog Fighting, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN160]. Scott Kirkwood, Dogfighting: Sheltering the Victims, Animal Sheltering, July-Aug. 1997, at 4, 5.

[FN161]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN162]. Id.

[FN163]. Id.

[FN164]. See Simmons, supra note 158.

[FN165]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN166]. After a dogfight, “if the wounded dog does not die, [dogfighters] will throw it alive on a garbage dump or leave it in a vacant lot or apartment to die a slow death” and “people will set dogs on fire when they lose a fight, or something worse.” The Reality of Dogfighting, supra note 159.

[FN167]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51; see also Delise, supra note 1, at 86.

[FN168]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN169]. Regularly, pit bulls are “found tied to concrete blocks and thrown into rivers, or ... doused with gasoline and torched,” most likely because they embarrassed their owners by losing a fight or refusing to fight. Diane Carman, Pit Bull Ban Is a Start, Not a Panacea, Denver Post, Nov. 6, 2005, at C1.

[FN170]. Delise, supra note 1, at 86.

[FN171]. Dogfighting Fact Sheet, Humane Society of the United States, fact_sheet (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN172]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN173]. Id.

[FN174]. Kirkwood, supra note 160, at 5.

[FN175]. Id. at 4.

[FN176]. See American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Fight Cruelty: Pitbulls, pitbull (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN177]. Id.

[FN178]. Kirkwood, supra note 160, at 5.

[FN179]. See Dogfighting Fact Sheet, supra note 171; see also Hanna Gibson, Dog Fighting Detailed Discussion, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007) (when the author interviewed several ninth-grade classes, nearly all the children said that they had witnessed a dogfight and only a few children thought that dogfighting was wrong); The Reality of Dogfighting, supra note 159 (when a Chicago animal control officer visited a fourth-grade classroom on the city's west side, every child in the class said that he or she had witnessed a dogfight); Steve Brownstein, See Spot. See Spot Killed, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007). Chicago Police Sergeant Steve Brownstein states that he has seen children snap a puppy's neck. Id. Brownstein also reports that on one occasion a fifth-grade boy, in describing a dogfight he had attended, told him “that when the losing dog urinated and defecated upon itself before it died, he was the only one in the crowd who did not explode with laughter.” Id.

[FN180]. Dogfighting Fact Sheet, supra note 171.

[FN181]. Id.

[FN182]. Id.; see also Gibson, supra note 179.

[FN183]. Street fighters generally give their dogs little care. The dogs “may have been hit, stabbed or poked with a fork, even burned, all in an effort to ‘make them mean.”’ Kirkwood, supra note 160, at 5 (quoting Lockwood).

[FN184]. William Hageman, A Child, a Pup, a Blood Sport, Chi. Trib., May 11, 2004, at C1.

[FN185]. Id. When Brownstein went to a local apartment to investigate a dogfighting complaint, he discovered two pit bulls living in an “unlit, trash and feces-filled, 9-by-12 foot electrical closet.” Id. When he asked a 13-year old occupant, who claimed to be watching the dogs for a friend, if he had ever owned dogs, the child answered in a “matter-of-fact” manner that his dogs had died in fights. Id. The child further stated that he was not bothered when someone broke into his house and killed another one of his dogs. Id.

[FN186]. See id.

[FN187]. Hip-hop stars 50 Cent and Snoop Dog feature dogfighting in their music videos, while DMX was convicted of animal cruelty and actively promotes dogfighting. Richard, supra note 25, at 14. One of DMX's albums, Grand Champion, is named in reference to fighting dogs. John Goodwin, Humane Society of the United States, Jay-Z and Other Artists Need to Step up Against Dogfighting, round/jayz_and_other_artists_need_to_step_up_against_dogfighting.html (last visited June 17, 2007). “One major record label” markets its own dog food called “Game Dog Professional,” with an image of a pit bull on the package. Id.

[FN188]. Richard, supra note 25, at 15.

[FN189]. Shannon Cheesman et al., New Details Surface About Qyntel and Pit Bulls (Oct. 7, 2004),

[FN190]. Id.

[FN191]. Frank Rusnak, NIU Hall of Famer Gets Arrested, N. Star Online, July 20, 2004,

[FN192]. Humane agencies emphasize the special influence celebrities have over children that might participate in dogfighting. See Fighting Back, Animal Sheltering, July-Aug. 1997, at 14. In the 1990s, the Danville, Virginia, Area Humane Society ran an anti-dogfighting campaign featuring posters with a photograph of NBA star Johnny Newman and the caption “Johnny Newman Says No to Dog Fighting.” Id. The Humane Society distributed the posters throughout the community. Id. Many teenagers took the posters down from public postings and hung them up in their lockers and bedrooms. Id. Moreover, as the Humane Society successfully pushed to have the issue of dogfighting featured in the media, the public became outraged upon learning of the prevalence of the illegal sport and demanded that the police department increase enforcement of dogfighting. Id. at 15. Soon after, the police department made two dogfighting arrests. Id.

[FN193]. Humane Society of the United States, Dogfighting: State Laws, (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN194]. Unless officers witness the dogs in the act of fighting, a dogfighter can be charged with only a misdemeanor. Off the Chain, supra note 51; see also The Reality of Dogfighting, supra note 159 (noting the lack of dogfighting prosecutions because the charges are difficult to prove, officers may not be properly informed of dogfighting laws, and dogfighting cases are a low priority).

[FN195]. Kirkwood, supra note 160, at 4.

[FN196]. See Off the Chain, supra note 57.

[FN197]. Id.

[FN198]. Gibson, supra note 179.

[FN199]. Professional dogfighters generally factor in as business expenses fines for misdemeanor dogfighting- or cruelty-related charges. Humane Soc'y of the U.S., The HSUS on Animal Fighting: The Final Round (2001), available at

[FN200]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN201]. Id.

[FN202]. Richard, supra note 25, at 39.

[FN203]. Simmons, supra note 158.

[FN204]. See id.

[FN205]. See Comments by Denver Senior Assistant Attorney Kory Nelson on S.B. 861,

[FN206]. One dogfighter has matter-of-factly stated that “if they banned the pit bull in my state, it would do nothing to keep me away from the dog.” Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN207]. See, e.g., Pet Pitbull, Breed Specific Legislation, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN208]. See id.

[FN209]. See, e.g., Grey, supra note 14, at 440.

[FN210]. Id.

[FN211]. See Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 8.

[FN212]. See Mott, supra note 134 (“Dogs are bred and created by people.”).

[FN213]. Delise, supra note 1, at 53.

[FN214]. Id.

[FN215]. See Fumarola, supra note 25, at 262.

[FN216]. Richard, supra note 25, at 15.

[FN217]. See Dale, supra note 60 (quoting Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human Animal Bond at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine as saying that “[p]it bulls are different; they're like wild animals”).

[FN218]. See Delise, supra note 1, at 53.

[FN219]. Id.

[FN220]. See id. at 33.

[FN221]. Weise, supra note 64.

[FN222]. See Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 4.

[FN223]. Stahlkuppe, supra note 36, at 13.

[FN224]. Cf. John Koopman, Pit Bull's Demeanor Depends on Who's Holding the Leash, S.F. Chron., June 12, 2005, at A4, available at http:// (stating that poor breeding of pit bulls and poor quality of ownership can lead to aggressive dogs).

[FN225]. Delise, supra note 1, at 86 (noting that “[t]he Humane Society of Michigan ... destroyed over 1,820 Pit Bulls in 2000”).

[FN226]. See id.

[FN227]. See id.

[FN228]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51.

[FN229]. Delise, supra note 1, at 86.

[FN230]. Id.

[FN231]. See, e.g., Grey, supra note 14, at 440.

[FN232]. See id.

[FN233]. After the Aurora, Colorado City Council passed a pit bull ban by a 6-3 vote, dissenting councilwoman Sue Sandstrom stated, “What I see is this ordinance punishes responsible owners. Irresponsible owners will ignore these rules.” Jeremy Meyer, Aurora Council Bans New Pit Bulls, Denver Post, Oct. 11, 2005, at B5.

[FN234]. Peter L. Borchelt, Dog Bites-Basic Behavioral Principles and Misunderstood Words, Animal Law and Dog Behavior 299 (David Favre & Peter L. Borchelt eds., 1999).

[FN235]. See Weise, supra note 64.

[FN236]. See id.

[FN237]. Id.

[FN238]. Lockwood, Canine Aggression, supra note 139, at 136-37.

[FN239]. See Denver, Colo., City Council Bill No. 434 (1989); Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122330 (West 2007).

[FN240]. See supra note 139 and accompanying text.

[FN241]. See Dale, supra note 15 (quoting Dunbar as saying that “[a]ny kind of dog not socialized is indeed a potential danger”).

[FN242]. Unchain Your Dog, Chaining Is a Form of Animal Cruelty, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN243]. See id.

[FN244]. See Delise, supra note 1, at 29.

[FN245]. See id.

[FN246]. Unchain Your Dog, supra note 242 (“A dog kept chained alone in one spot for hours, days, months, or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious, and often aggressive.... [F]rustrated by long periods of boredom and social isolation, he becomes a neurotic shell of his former self ....”).

[FN247]. Delise, supra note 1, at 23.

[FN248]. See Unchain Your Dog, supra note 242.

[FN249]. Unchain Your Dog, Animal Cruelty Photos, Chained and Neglected Dogs, (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN250]. See Unchain Your Dog, supra note 242.

[FN251]. Id.

[FN252]. Id.

[FN253]. Kenneth A. Gershman et al., Which Dogs Bite? A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors, 93 Pediatrics 913, 915 (1994).

[FN254]. See supra note 259 and accompanying text.

[FN255]. Off the Chain, supra note 51 (interviewing Shain).

[FN256]. See Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 7-8. As the authors note, “Problems of irresponsible ownership are not unique to pit bulls, nor will they be in the future. For this reason, ... effective animal control legislation must emphasize responsible and humane ownership of sound animals as well as responsible supervision of children and animals when they interact.” Id.

[FN257]. Between 2000 and 2001, there were twenty-six fatal attacks by single male dogs. Twenty-one of these dogs were positively identified as unneutered; the reproductive status of the other five dogs was unknown. Delise, supra note 1, at 14.

[FN258]. Id. at 10.

[FN259]. Id. at 14.

[FN260]. Dean Schabner, ABC News, Is Breed to Blame in Fatal Attack? (June 7, 2005),

[FN261]. See Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Pet, supra note 79.

[FN262]. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 122331 (West 2007).

[FN263]. Id. § 122330.

[FN264]. See Miami-Dade County, Fla., Code § 5-17 (2003); Cincinnati, Ohio, Mun. Code § 701-1-V (2003).

[FN265]. Children under the age of twelve “are the victims in 79% of all fatal dog attacks.” Delise, supra note 1, at 14.

[FN266]. Id.

[FN267]. See Richard H. Polsky, Dog Bite Statistics, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN268]. Vicki DeGruy, Kids and Dogs: A Common Sense Approach, Dog Owner's Guide, available at (last visited June 17, 2007); see also Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions, American Veterinary Medical Association, A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention, 218 J. Am. Veterinary Med. Ass'n 1732, 1741 (2001) (explaining that “[c]hildren's natural behaviors,” such as running, yelling, and making jerky movements, may provoke a dog attack).

[FN269]. See DeGruy, supra note 268.

[FN270]. American Kennel Club, Pomeranian Dog Dogs Puppy Puppies, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN271]. Baby Girl Killed by Family Dog, L.A. Times, Oct. 9, 2000, at B5. The uncle of the baby left her on a bed while he went to another room to prepare her bottle. The Pomeranian was on the bed attacking her when he returned. Id.

[FN272]. In one case, a woman left an emaciated German Shepherd in an apartment with a six-day-old. The dog killed the baby; afterward, the woman admitted that she had not fed “the dog for at least six days.” Delise, supra note 1, at 43.

[FN273]. See DeGruy, supra note 268.

[FN274]. See id.

[FN275]. See supra note 270 and accompanying text.

[FN276]. See supra note 24 and accompanying text.

[FN277]. See Burstein, supra note 18, at 313.

[FN278]. Lockwood, Canine Agression, supra note 139, at 137 (“The breeds of dogs that have been chosen to reflect our aggressive impulses have changed over the millennia. In the last 20 years the choice has moved from German shepherds, to Dobermans, to pit bulls ....”).

[FN279]. See supra note 256 and accompanying text.

[FN280]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51 (interviewing Shain).

[FN281]. See Richard, supra note 25, at 39.

[FN282]. See Dogfighting Fact Sheet, supra note 171.

[FN283]. See Stahlkuppe, supra note 36, at 9.

[FN284]. See Foreman, supra note 2.

[FN285]. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 839 (explaining that a breed ban will only make those who want a dangerous dog create that trait in another breed).

[FN286]. See id. (“Breed-specific legislation does not address the fact that a dog of any breed can become dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive.”).

[FN287]. See id.

[FN288]. See supra note 155 and accompanying text.

[FN289]. See supra note 246 and accompanying text.

[FN290]. See Richard, supra note 25, at 14.

[FN291]. See id.

[FN292]. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 839.

[FN293]. See Meyer, supra note 233.

[FN294]. Id.

[FN295]. See Off the Chain, supra note 51 (interviewing Shain).

[FN296]. Id.

[FN297]. See id.

[FN298]. Schabner, supra note 260.

[FN299]. Punish the Deed, Not the Breed!, Understand-A-Bull, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN300]. See Setter, supra note 133, at 4 (explaining that breed bans force responsible owners to either become criminal by keeping their dogs or to give up their dogs to animal shelters).

[FN301]. See id.

[FN302]. See Stahlkuppe, supra note 36, at 9.

[FN303]. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 839-40 (stating that no formal scientific “evaluation of the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing fatal or nonfatal dog bites” exists).

[FN304]. See Higgins, supra note 24.

[FN305]. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 839 (noting that methods of breed identification are “time-consuming and complicated”).

[FN306]. Id. (stating that “[o]wners of mixed-breed or unregistered ... dogs have no way of knowing whether their dog is one of the types identified and whether they are required to comply with breed-specific ordinances”).

[FN307]. Richard, supra note 25, at 13. Dr. Gail Golab of the American Veterinary Medical Association has stated that “[s]ome of the ‘appearance laws' are so vague that any dog in the world could fit their descriptions.” Id.

[FN308]. April M. Washington, Pit Bull Ban Under Scrutiny; City May Consider Repeal After Study, Rocky Mountain News, May 16, 2005, at 4A (noting that the money that the city of Denver spends on litigation and impoundment of pit bulls could be better spent on enforcing legislation that targets irresponsible owners).

[FN309]. See id.

[FN310]. A task force assigned to study the pit bull ban in Prince George's County, Maryland found that “70 percent of the pit bulls being picked up by animal management [were] ‘nice dogs”’ and that the most dangerous dogs remained in the community because law enforcement was focused on impounding only pit bulls. Olivia Wiggins, Showdown Intensifies on Pit Bull Ban, Wash. Post, Sept. 25, 2005, at C8.

[FN311]. See id.

[FN312]. See Higgins, supra note 24.

[FN313]. See id.

[FN314]. See Wiggins, supra note 310.

[FN315]. See Higgins, supra note 24.

[FN316]. See infra notes 317-354 and accompanying text.

[FN317]. See supra note 63 and accompanying text.

[FN318]. Burstein, supra note 18, at 313.

[FN319]. In the first four months of Denver's renewed enforcement of its pit bull ban, the city seized and destroyed over four hundred and fifty pit bulls. Jeff Kass, Dog Lovers Work to Save Pit Bulls from Death,, Nov. 14, 2005,, 0,3943793.story?coll=NY-nation-promo.

[FN320]. Id.

[FN321]. See Dale, supra note 15.

[FN322]. See Rebecca Simmons, Humane Society of the United States, Pooch Prejudice: Why Breed Bans Aren't the Answer (June 3, 2005), http://

[FN323]. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends a comprehensive community program that includes both legislative and education pieces for an effective dog bite prevention strategy. See Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions, supra note 268.

[FN324]. See Heather K. Pratt, Comment, Canine Profiling: Does Breed-Specific Legislation Take a Bite out of Canine Crime?, 108 Penn St. L. Rev. 855, 876-77 (2004); see also Richard, supra note 25, at 39 (discussing the fact that dogfighting is a felony in almost all states, but that dogfighting nonetheless thrives because enforcement is lacking).

[FN325]. See Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions, supra note 268, at 1734 (suggesting that local governments look at their existing dog ordinances and determine “whether enforcement or revision could increase their effectiveness”).

[FN326]. See Humane Society of the United States, HSUS Statement on Dangerous Dogs and Breed-Specific Legislation, affecting_our_pets/dangerous_dogs.html (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN327]. See Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 7-8; see also Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions, supra note 268, at 1741 (“Seventy percent of fatal dog attacks and more than half of bite wounds requiring medical attention involve children.”).

[FN328]. See supra note 246 and accompanying text. For example, Little Rock, Arkansas has a law prohibiting the chaining or tethering of one's dog. Little Rock, Ark., Mun. Code § 6-16(d) (2003). A Denver anticruelty ordinance allows a dog to be chained for no longer than one hour. Denver, Colo., Revised Mun. Code § 8-131(b)(3) (1992). After a chained dog froze to death in its owner's backyard in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, the borough passed a law limiting the time a dog may be chained. Regina Rosenello, “Joe's Law” Dedicated to New Jersey Boxer Who Froze to Death, http:// (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN329]. See Humane Society of the United States, supra note 326 (explaining that laws targeting human behavior are more effective in reducing the number of dog bites in a community than are laws targeting dog breeds).

[FN330]. See Pratt, supra note 324, at 876-78.

[FN331]. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 840.

[FN332]. See id. (stating that laws should target “chronically irresponsible dog owners”).

[FN333]. See Lockwood & Rindy, supra note 12, at 8.

[FN334]. See supra note 324.

[FN335]. See Richard, supra note 25, at 39.

[FN336]. Id.

[FN337]. See Fighting Back, supra note 192.

[FN338]. Pit Bull Rescue Central, (last visited June 17, 2007).

[FN339]. See Fighting Back, supra note 192. Recent arrests show that positive steps are beginning to be taken to uncover and prosecute the heart of the dogfighting underworld. Ariana Huemer, Humane Society of the United States, New Attitude Toward Cruelty Laws Has Animal Fighters on the Run, activities/animal_fighters_on_the_run.html (last visited June 17, 2007). In 2004, dogfighter David Ray Tant received a thirty-year prison sentence. Id. Moreover, in 2005 the “Godfather of dogfighting,” Floyd Boudreaux, was arrested and “charged with fifty-seven felony counts of dog fighting and two counts of animal cruelty” after a three-month investigation. Ariana Heumer, Humane Society of the United States, Dog Fighting Kingpin Toppled in Louisiana Raid, kingpin_toppled_in_louisiana_raid.html (last visited June 17, 2007). However, dogfighting's booming popularity makes it clear that the fight to eradicate the sport will be difficult; it will require great persistence and dedication to investigate and aggressively prosecute those involved. See Huemer, supra.

[FN340]. Delise, supra note 1, at 10.

[FN341]. For example, Stanislaus County, California charges $28 per year to license an altered dog, while it charges $100 per year to license an intact dog. Stanislaus, Cal., County Code § 7.50.010 (2005). The county also prohibits a person from breeding his or her dog without a permit. Id. § 7.54.030.

[FN342]. See supra note 259 and accompanying text.

[FN343]. See Lockwood, Canine Aggression, supra note 139, at 137.

[FN344]. See supra note 238 and accompanying text.

[FN345]. See supra note 341.

[FN346]. Richard, supra note 25, at 39. Sakach points out that minors generally lack the proper level of responsibility or financial means to care adequately for a dog. Id. Similar laws prohibiting dog ownership by minors exist in Europe. Id.

[FN347]. Id.

[FN348]. Id.

[FN349]. See Lockwood, Canine Aggression, supra note 139, at 137.

[FN350]. See Sacks et al., supra note 21, at 840.

[FN351]. Id.

[FN352]. Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions, supra note 268, at 1735 (stating the importance of appointing a community task force to research occurrences of dog bites, interpret data, and develop a plan for the community).

[FN353]. See id.

[FN354]. Id.

[FN355]. See supra notes 112-113 and accompanying text.

[FN356]. Dale, supra note 15 (quoting Lockwood).

[FNa1]. J.D. 2007, DePaul University College of Law; B.A.J. 1998, Indiana University-Bloomington. I would like to thank Professor Margit Livingston for all of her guidance and the editors of the DePaul Law Review for their help throughout the writing and publication process. Special thanks to Mark, my parents, and my family for their unconditional love, support, and sense of humor.

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