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    Monday, July 23, 2007

    Dangerous Dog Registry

    Many months back my wife came home sad and stressed.

    "What's wrong?" I asked.

    "I just visited this little boy in the hospital who was mauled by a pit bull while in front of his house," she responded.


    Good enough for government work
    Pit bulls are a frequent topic at my house. Their good and bad traits have been debated by my wife and I, in-laws, out-laws--whoever--since my wife started working for Houston's Animal Regulation Bureau of the Environmental Health Department.

    The one thing that's abundantly clear from all this debate is that there is a large group of people who hate pit bulls and think they should be banned, and there is another large group that vehemently opposes the first.

    After hearing the latest story, I sat at the dinner table wondering what to do.

    "Well, since you can't ban pit bulls," I mused, "and you can't keep things the way they are, why not do something else?"

    "Like what?" my wife asked.

    "Like a registry ... for dangerous dogs. It'd be similar to a sex offender registry. Everyone with a dangerous dog is required to list their address."

    "I like the idea; I'm listening," my wife interjected.

    "Well, since owning a pet is a luxury, in my opinion, anyway, and these dogs have already been declared dangerous because of a previous bite incident, then a registry would allow minimal invasion of privacy --I mean, compared to outright banning of breeds -- but allow people information. That way, if someone with small children was moving to a subdivision, he or she could go online and look for any dangerous dogs near his or her prospective house and use it when deciding where to live.

    Also, the city must post it clearly on its website for this to work. Every time someone moved, they'd need to file a short change of address form--just like at the post office--or face a fine of whatever the city sees fit. All in all, people feel more safe with the information, and pit bull lovers don't see their breeds banned."


    My wife took the idea to work and ran with it. She passed it by her boss and he liked it --a lot-- so she talked to "the chief" -- the director of her Bureau -- and he liked the idea too. She came home a few days later and said it was going to the city's legal counsel so Houston can find a way to implement it.

    That's death.

    Today she found out at work that New York City will institute a dangerous dog registry just like the one I suggested. I did a quick google search and didn't find New York, but did find the state of Virginia has a dangerous dog registry. But Houston still does not.

    The cynic in me says this is because the stars of every law class do NOT work for the city, and that government is NEVER efficient. The truth is probably more the latter than the former.

    It'd be similar to a sex offender registry
    Still, it's quite a shame. When a bite case happens, the dog is declared dangerous. The city has it's registration number, and if it bites again, it's gone. How hard can it be to put that information up on the web, in a clear, searchable form, to empower people to protect their families? How many more children must be mauled before such a simple solution is started?

    Texas just enacted legislation that makes it a felony if a dog not on a leash seriously injures a person. A felony! They could push that legislation through but couldn't create this simple directory?

    Well, at least they talked about it. In the science world, we called a half-baked job like that, "good enough for government work."

    5 comments:

    xanghe said...

    Hey man I work for the government! But not in Houston so maybe I'm exempt. :)

    Interesting... this just popped up in the OC Register today... two pit bull attacks...

    As a side note, having a registry doesn't mean that they won't be banned, at least from certain areas. There's a sex offender registry in California and a recently-passed law that bans registered sex offenders from residing within .5 miles of a school or park. That's practically everywhere in socal, so now we have homeless sex offenders.

    Triet said...

    True, and to be honest, I want them banned -- pit bulls, that is. But right now, especially in Texas, the pit bull owner contingent is just too strong. A registry is a nice starting point/compromise.

    Also, buried in my last link is another problem -- State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston. Yes, HE is the problem, because every bill he submits to the state legislature tries to expand the scope of government. No such thing as personal responsibility with him.

    Sen. Ellis wants to give my county the power to ban dangerous pets, ok, but he also wants to allow the four largest counties to regulate animal sales by roadside and in parking lots in UNINCORPORATED AREAS.

    Seems to me that my tax dollars can be spent on something more important than regulating who sells dogs to whom, especially OUTSIDE of city limits, where the population is small. What're we gonna do, require them to get permits? Hire more police officers to crack down on that severe criminal offense?

    Puh-leez. Give me my money back, or put it into a decent registry that will affect my life for the better, and let people sell their puppies in peace.b

    Stefanie said...

    Hey, i think Sen. Ellis has a great idea. People who sell animals on the side of the road are scum, much like you who thinks pit bulls should be killed. This is Texas, so you people want to make a quick buck off of selling poor puppies to people who can not take care of them.
    Kill my dog and i will make sure your dog is killed as well. First its pits, then its Rotties, then its any large dog.
    The news only puts pit bull attacks on the news, you don;t get to see the dog attacks because its not an attention getter. Its all BS.
    You should tell your wife to go see a little boy mauled by a Dalmation and ask her if they should be banned too.

    Triet said...

    We will have to agree to disagree on Sen. Ellis, Stefanie. I remember driving to work in the Quang Trung District of Ho Chi Minh City, on a street known as the "animal selling street." Every day, as I passed, people were selling all sorts of pets--dogs, cats, goldfish, turtles, you name it. No regulation, no governmental oversight. I never heard a single story of a child being mauled by a dog over there. Oversight on the selling of dogs is unnecessary--that's what registration is for.

    I'm curious as to how you support oversight of dogs, but not breed killing. Most dog owners hate the oversight as much as the breed killing.

    So, I said "that there is a large group of people who hate pit bulls and think they should be banned, and there is another large group that vehemently opposes the first." Nowhere did I say I think pit bulls should be killed. In fact, in this post I think I argue very clearly against killing breeds. Read my post again.

    But your vindictive reaction is exactly what I meant above, and one reason why a registry is such a good compromise. There is no eye-for-an-eye "Kill my dog and i will make sure your dog is killed as well" with a registry. It catches all dangerous dogs regardless of breed.

    As my experience in Vietnam supports, I think dog attacks mostly cultural. There is an American subculture that glorifies the killer pit bull, breeds them for such, and gives them a bad name. Banning breeds would be a temporary fix because that subculture would just move on to another breed--hence a registry is better.

    Finally, when a Dalmation mauls a little boy, my wife will go see him. The reality is, she is privy to knowledge of EVERY reported bite, large or small, in the city of Houston, while you are not. The news may often report a dog as a pit bull when it's not, but ultimately, more pit bull attacks are broadcast because more happen. You want to change that, change the culture that breeds those dogs. Otherwise, they will forever stain your good pit bulls.

    Stop Making Excuses said...

    The definitely need to be restricted or banned