By Ben Brown
<!–By Ben Brown
–>Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010
On Monday, The Lantern discussed springtime student dog ownership. As the second of a three-part series, today’s article explores Ohio’s legislative treatment of dogs.
April is National Prevent Animal Cruelty Month. And from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday on the South Oval, Paws for a Purpose will raise animal awareness.
The fair will feature a dog agility demo as well as local animal shelters and other animal rights groups like Pet People, Animal Outreach and PetPromise.
For the collective sake of canines, these activists hope McKenzie’s Law will be passed. It would eliminate dog auctions in Ohio, which is one of the few states that still allows them.
“Dog auctions act as a means for puppy millers to dump unprofitable pups and females,” said Molly Stancliff, president of Buckeyes for Canines. “They take place every month in Farmerstown, Ohio, drawing shady breeders from across the nation.”
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals named Ohio one of the worst states for animal cruelty laws. In February, the Humane Society of the United States followed suit by ranking Ohio as one of the worst 10 states in America.
“Stopping dog auctions would keep convicted animal abusers from flocking to the state,” Stancliff said. “People don’t realize that puppies are being killed.”
The Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions is working to collect 120,700 signatures by Dec. 1, 2010 to place the Ohio Dog Auctions Act on the 2011 ballot. More information can be found on banohiodogauctions.com.
McKenzie’s Law would also stop the puppy mills that provide 99 percent of pet store dogs, Stancliff said.
Such kennels that sell dogs over the Internet are not federally regulated. As such, dogs are often raised in horrible, caged conditions and sold with unreported diseases or congenital defects, according to the Animal Law Coalition.
“Ohio has the second-most puppy mills of any state,” Stancliff said.
Stancliff and Alysha Noorani started Buckeyes for Canines last spring. Its main mission is to raise awareness about breed-specific legislation, which heavily restrains the ownership of allegedly dangerous dogs.
Karen Delise’s book, “The Pit Bull Placebo” traces 150 years of public perceptions of canine aggression beginning with the Bloodhound. Society next antagonized German Shepherds, then Doberman Pinschers followed by Rottweilers.
Each new enemy sprang from an isolated but publicized event that unfairly painted other dogs of the same breed, Stancliff said.
Peaceful bloodhounds were initially targeted after newspapers printed the story of one crazed Bloodhound killing a boy in Trenton, N.J. in 1864, for example.
Legislation now targets Pit Bull type dogs including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, English Staffordshire Terriers and American Bulldogs.
Pit Bull legislation is not objective, as it covers any dog that looks like a Pit Bull.
“Millions of loving family members are being killed in the U.S. every year based solely on physical appearance,” Stancliff said.
“Breed bans single out dogs based on features, not individual temperaments or backgrounds. And most cities require that all Pit Bulls or Pit mixes be euthanized even if they are in a loving home,” she said.
According to the National Canine Research Council, 720 of the 900 Pit Bulls euthanized from 2001-2002 as part of a Pit Bull ban in George’s County, Md., were found to have been nice family pets.
Apparently, their barks were bigger than their bites.
“Because of the Pit’s drive to please and its high pain tolerance, they have become an easily manipulated breed,” Stancliff said. “These endearing traits made it the most popular fighting breed in the country.”
Although many such Pit Bulls live in a literal dog-eat-dog world, activists point out that any dog can kill. In Los Angeles in 2000, for instance, a 10-pound Pomeranian killed a baby.
“Obviously that was a problem with that particular dog, not the breed,” Stancliff said.
In fact, the 17 fatal dog attacks over the past 42 years in Ohio were committed by 11 different dog breeds, according to the National Canine Research Council.
To lend some objectivity to the issue, the American Temperament Test Society measures stability, shyness, aggressiveness and friendliness in dog breeds. It also tests a dog’s protectiveness toward its handler and self-preservation in the face of a threat.
If a dog shows unprovoked aggression, panic without recovery or strong avoidance, it fails the test. In comparing one of the most beloved family dogs to an allegedly dangerous killer, the Test Society found that Golden Retrievers are worse in temperament than Pit Bulls.
Of 665 Pit Bulls tested, 567 passed for a temperament score of 85.3, which edged out the Golden Retriever’s 84.6.
The point, Stancliff says, is that government funding is wasted on breed-specific legislation that stagnant dog-attack statistics have proven ineffective.
In a 10-year period, the Cincinnati Police Department spent more than $160,000 per year trying to enforce a Pit Bull ban.
Yet such bans do nothing to curb bite statistics or Pit Bull ownership, according to defend-a-bull.com.
Nevertheless, Ohio spends $17,751,210 yearly enforcing breed-discriminatory legislation, according to the Best Friends Animal Society Fiscal Impact Calculator. That includes $1,647,260 spent annually in Franklin County alone.
House Bill No. 79 would remove Pit Bulls from the definition of “vicious dog” in Ohio state law. The bill was introduced more than a year ago by Rep. Barbara Sears, but has yet to be enacted.
OSU dog activists try to get students who want a dog off the scent of breeders and pet stores.
“Getting a dog from a breeder is not good for anyone but the breeder,” Stancliff said. Because breeders aren’t federally regulated, they yield no taxes for the state, either.
More importantly, “There are no laws protecting breeder dogs,” Stancliff said. “They are treated like farm products — like a chicken to slaughter.”
Animal rights activists are equally bothered by pet stores. The Pets Without Parents website says “when you buy from a pet store, you are supporting puppy mills, the deplorable, disgusting dog-breeding factories.”
“No dogs from pet stores are legitimate,” Noorani said. “And you don’t save a life by buying pets that will eventually be sold or auctioned.”
WWC NOTE: As far as breeders being the only ones making out per the comment in the article that I have highlighted in bold is incorrect. We go above and beyond for our dogs and to make sure our puppies are more then ready for their new homes so the new owners receive a happy, healthy, well adjusted puppy. When you add up all we spend to keep dogs happy and healthy along with the countless hrs. we put into our dogs and puppies we are working harder then most and making peanuts. We do it because we love our dogs and we probably are the most happy at doing our job! And for not paying taxes…another error in the article. In Cuyahoga Co. along with many other counties, to receive a kennel license you must obtain a vendors license prior which makes you file taxes. If you fail to do so you lose all licenses. This also adds you to a list for inspections from the Dog Warden by city or county. If the county can’t handle licensed breeders then how is it going to be federally handled? As it is, there is not enough funding nor man power to handle the complaints or suspicions.