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Pitt Bulls and Rottweilers and Gangsters, Oh My! – UPDATED

January 27th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

vicious-dog.jpg

Monday on the LA Times animal blog
there is a story that manages to combine a holy trinity of favorite WitnessLA issues: gangs, foolish laws….and critters.

(Sadly no wolves or bears are involved, but one cannot have everything in a single story. And while we’re on the subject, are we happy or despondent that the same local newspaper that saw fit to eliminate the Homicide Report and four fifths of the book review section, now has an animal blog? Tough call.)

It seems that the city of Lancaster has decided that a swell way to crack down on gangs is to go after the gang members’ dogs. Or the gang members who have dogs. Or those gangsters who have certain dogs.

Anyway, with this fuzzy notion in mind, Tuesday the city council will vote on a proposed ordinance that would impose harsh penalties on the owners of dogs labeled “potentially dangerous” or “vicious”—namely Rottweilers and Pitt Bulls. Even more controversial is the part of the ordinance that requires all Rottweilers, Pit Bulls and mixed-breeds with the physical characteristics of either Rotts or Pits, to be spayed or neutered.

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UPDATE: They indeed passed the thing. The LA Times has the story here along with some more…uh… notable quotes from the mayor.

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“I want gangs out of Lancaster,” Mayor R. Rex Parris told a local interviewer. “I want to make it uncomfortable for them to be here. Anything they like, I want to take it away from them. I want to deliberately harass them….”

Alrighty then. And a happy civil liberties day to you too, Mister Mayor. (So, is it me or does the concept of a mayor named R. Rex Parris strike you as a bit Batman comic books-ish?)

It seems, however, that not all the good citizens of Lancaster are quite as enthusiastic about Mayor Parris’s new gang strategy as he is. In fact, many law abiding residents also have Rotts and Pits and don’t like being told what they may or may not do with their family pets.

As the devoted owner of a breed that could arguably make the “potentially dangerous” list—namely Loup-Loup-the-wolf dog—I can understand the Lancasterites disgruntled position on the topic. (When we were deciding whether or not to adopt one of my neighbor’s part wolf puppies I ran into all manner of literature, plus a slew of well-meaning “experts,” that warned us against the ghastly dangers of wolf hybrids. We are still waiting for Loup-Loup to turn on us. Thus far, it’s been a 14-year wait.)

Part of the ordinance makes good sense in that it would levy heavy penalties against anyone owning a dog that bites or repeatedly menaces people.

Personally, I have exactly zero tolerance for people who allow dogs that bite to roam free. Ditto for idiots who think it’s cool to train household dogs to be vicious, a practice that all too often involves mistreatment of the creatures.

Mandatory spaying and neutering has much to be said for it too. But designations of “potentially dangerous,” plus enforced sterilization, levied against only certain breeds regardless of training and temperament is….stupid. And a legal slippery slope—especially when, under the ordinance, a single officer can determine whether or not a dog should be destroyed.

Viewing all of the above as a good gang suppression tactic is….what’s the term I’m looking for?…Oh, yeah…..moronic.

When a crowd of dog owners showed up to a recent Lancaster City Council meeting, pets along with them, according to the LA Times there were some memorable exchanges.

For instance, at one point dog trainer A.J. Listman asked the mayor (who is also a personal injury lawyer) what he would do “when these gang members that you’re trying to target move on to Dobermans or German Shepherds? You going to restrict them too?”

“If they move on to cats,” the Times reports Parris responded, “I’m going to take their cats.”

(sigh.) Some people parody themselves.

PS: NOTE TO MAYOR REX PARRIS: I don’t want to trigger a brand new ordinance or anything, and maybe it’s just my luck, but I seem to know an inordinate number of gang members, or former gang members with kids and families, who have Chihuahuas as pets. Do you also have plans for the Chihuahuas? Just curious.

Photo by Susan Beveridge

Posted in bears and alligators, Gangs, Los Angeles Times | 17 Comments »

17 Responses

  1. pokey Says:

    Last week I was pricing home owners insurance in the Joshua Tree area for a small house I had puchased as a rental.

    I was suprised to find that if my tenent had Pit Bulls, Dobermines or Rots the policy excluded liability coverage.

    The point is the no one has ever heard of a Golden or Lab killer, but there are lots of stories of Pit Bulls.

    If you were taking a walk with your small children, how would you feel about meeting three Pit Bulls or Rots.

  2. LAUSD Watcher Says:

    There are lots of *stories* about pit bulls, yes. Plenty of other breeds can be aggressive, it’s just the media has picked up on the pit bull story. And I’d feel nervous if I met up with three pit bulls or rottweilers who were walking without an owner, or not on a leash. I’d also feel nervous if I saw three poodles without an owner, or not on a leash.

    The problem isn’t the dog, or the breed. It’s the people who own them who don’t get them fixed, don’t train them to be around people (or train them to be aggressive), don’t take them for walks, let them out to roam around, etc. etc. I’d almost agree with this Lancaster mayor guy if the rules applied to all dogs, or all dogs that have some incident of aggression.

    Actually, I think Celeste is on to something with the chihuahua issue. I’ve met far more friendly pit bulls and rottweilers than friendly chihuahuas. Those little buggers are vicious.

  3. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Pokey, I believe I mentioned that I have no friendly feelings toward people who let biting dogs wander around on their own—Pitt Bulls, Rottweilers or goldens. I think such dog owners should be fined heavily and incarcerated if possible. No scratch that last. The state can’t afford it.

    Actually, the only dog ever to lay a tooth on my son was an aging and a bit mentally dotty retriever mix. A small neighborhood yappy thing tried it once when he was very small and we briefly lived in an apartment building, but I threatened the beast and, despite the species-related language barrier, the dog got the message, and never came near him again. Rotts and Pitts are more easily trained to be vicious than some other breeds, but they’re perfectly nice dogs if socialized properly by caring owners.

  4. Pokey Says:

    > Rottweiler
    > Pitbull
    > German Shepherd
    > Chow
    > Doberman

    See for yourself —> https://www.bankrate.com/gookeyword/rate/insurance_quotes.asp?

    Mrs. Pokey, who worked at an animal hospital was instructed to always muzzle certain breads, surprisingly Chow’s were on the top of the Vet’s list of the most untrustworthy dogs.

    Liberals have trouble physiologically branding a particular breed of dog (which extends to other creatures) as being more dangerous or more intelligent, and would rather ignore the facts and the collective wisdom of years of experience.

    It is common knowledge that animals seem to inherit traits from parents and certain breads are known for their intelligence and gentle nature.

    Results from Google:
    845,000 pitbull kills woman
    316,000 Rottweiler kills woman
    39,400 golden retriever kills woman (these included blind people killed with their dogs).

  5. Pokey Says:

    Insurance companies don’t make this stuff up, they do it be these dogs incur greater risk. The charge more or refuse coverage for the following breeds:

    (The above was ment to go at the top of the last post) :-)

  6. Woody Says:

    When pit bulls are outlawed, only outlaws will have pit bulls.

  7. Randy Paul Says:

    My dad was a licensed dog breeder (collies and kuvasz) and all of us kids grew up training them. Dogs behave as well as they have been a.) treated b.)trained.

    As for dog sizes, the temperament of small dogs is, in my experience, far more difficult to deal with than larger breeds.

  8. Your Cheatin Heart Says:

    As usual Randy, you clear the air. The European woman who had to have her face surgically restored after a dog attack was mauled by a lab, the breed Pokey signs off on as okay. It is okay, but then there are the people who mis raised it. Pits as a breed are more inclined to be sweet to people, but they’re often mistreated and mis trained. But I wouldn’t want to meet a homeless Chihuahua, even a well bred one, in a dark alley.:) Curious how Pokey says “he” didn’t know about vicious breeds, yet then lets off with a tirade of rhetoric. “Mrs” Pokey must be so proud.

  9. John Moore Says:

    Having been bitten by a leashed Rottie, I suspect there may be a bit too much bred-in aggression. This dog had never bitten anyone before, but when my hand got close, I sustained a major, deep bite. The owner, who had trained the dog and owned it for 9 years, was shocked.

    Dog breeding definitely strongly affects behavioral traits. Our Collie could and did literally herd cats. Our Yorkies hunt furiously for rats, and rip to shreds any small rodent that gets close (they were bred for rat hunting).

    I suspect dogs which are bred for aggressive behavior may, under some circumstances, become suddenly aggressive no matter their training – perhaps especially as they grow older and their senses fade.

    BTW… Celeste… I like the unusual style of your blog – with the frequent bold lines of text segmenting the post. Pretty nifty.

  10. Your Cheatin Heart Says:

    You got here quick, John. Close to your heart, eh?;)

  11. Woody Says:

    Maybe the city will allow people to own alligators to deal with agressive pit buls. Just open the place up to all sorts of predators rather than upset liberals and restrict a few!

  12. roy Says:

    instead of fining or imprisoning dog owners, why don’t we give them goverment programs and educate them send them money and get them better jobs.

  13. John Moore Says:

    Hey Roy, that should be in the new “stimulus” plan! Good thinking!

  14. Kooly TMCX3 Says:

    IS IT NATURE OR NURTURE? ITS PTTT-BULL SHIT! I took in 2 pitbull mixed dogs so they would’nt be destroyed. great dogs my 3 year old is trained and a good watch dog. both are on the POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS DOGS list. A neighbor down the street took it upon her self to feed all stray cats, due to the econ. their are lots of them around. I have my own chickens as well as other prized birds. and those cats come down my ally. my loyal pet has killed a few only after they came into my yard. this neighbor threatend the life of my new born as well as the occupants of my house, which i do own. only to be turned away by authorities, they said i should call them before he made the threat(fn outrageous). I’m from Aliso Village trying to contain myself all i know is violance and i suppose if it was me at this white mans house with a bat mind you. I would be under the prison. Police actually said consider moving, f that!!

  15. Once bitten Says:

    I don’t trust Rottweilers and I find their owners to be untrustworthy too. My husband was walking our English Spaniel on a leash outside a Rottweiler owner’s property just over a week ago when the man opened the gate and let his Rottweiler out. The Rottweiler went straight for our Spaniel and killed him with one bite. The Rottweiler owner is headmaster of a school in our area, and believes himself to be above the law. He now denies liability despite the post mortem that was done on the Spaniel and that there were plenty of witnesses to the incident as it happened during peak hour on a fairly busy street. The owner of the Rottweiler said his dog had never behaved that way before, and offered to get us another puppy, as if that could ever cancel things out. Our Spaniel was a lovely and most loved pet. I have laid a charge with the police against this man. I hope he winds up with a criminal record and is struck off as a school teacher. Imagine if it had been a child walking past. The headmaster lives right next to a school, dozens of children walk past his property every day. He has gone off to see a criminal lawyer to defend him and his vicious dog. He’s just opening himself to more public ridicule and dislike.

  16. Celeste Fremon Says:

    How horrible! I am so, so sorry.

    I’ve known Rottweillers who are lovely dogs. But I’ve also met some very scary ones too. It usually depends upon the owners.

    I hope you are able to prevail against this irresponsible man and his vicious dog. Good luck. And again, I’m so sorry about the death of your sweet Spaniel.

  17. Hannah Says:

    My dog has rott and pitt friends here and they are extremely sweet and gentle big guys for him. The dogs belong to young couple who dedicated them selves caring and training this incredible guys and they are superstar with their gentleness and friendliness. So sad about bad reputations around about these breeds but it is the owners should be blamed, not the breed.

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