Testimony Opposing HB 1026
HB 1026 is a “mandatory exemption” law. Local jurisdictions can only enact breed-based laws if an exemption process is maintained that provides an exemption for restricted or banned breeds if the individual dog [pit bull] passes the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test or a reasonably equivalent canine behavioral test.
House Public Safety Committee
Portion of Testimony by Ellen Taft
My name is Ellen Taft I’m from Capitol Hill in Seattle and I’m giving you some packets of scientific and medical research about pit bulls and fighting breeds of dogs, which I hope you will read.
First of all I would like to say that I believe that emotion and anecdote have no place in this discussion or in this decision. As my doctor said, the decision should be based on science and statistics.
As I said I live in Capitol Hill in Seattle. The reason why I’m concerned about pit bulls and dog issues is because I walk everywhere. I never owned a car until I was forty and in my twenty’s when I lived in Europe, I didn’t even have a driver’s license. Dogs are a problem for pedestrians, especially pedestrian mothers who have their toddlers in strollers in densely populated neighborhoods like Capitol Hill.
I’m going to discuss this issue from two points of view. One point of view is the legislation itself and the other is from the science, which I’m going to summarize.
In looking over the actual piece of legislation [HB 1026], I found a number of flaws and I thought it was very poorly written. In Section One between line 9 to 12 it states that the legislature finds that a dog’s breed is not inherently indicative of whether a dog or not is dangerous and that the criteria for determining whether or not a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous should be focused on the dog’s behavior. This is an assumption. This is not attributed to any empirical scientific study and the legislature is not a scientific body.
Breed regulations are enacted throughout the world — throughout the world. Because specific dog breeds have demonstrated a disproportionate rate of mauling, maiming and killing not only human beings, but farm animals, pets and service dogs. A dog’s breed — this goes for the purebreds — indicates the potential to inflict serious or fatal injuries because of the power of their jaws and certain inherit genetic traits, which were specifically selected for the breeds purpose.
Now, it is true, for example, Cocker Spaniels have the highest bite rate of any dog breed in the world. But in the statistics that I’ve looked at, in thirteen years there was only one death by Cocker Spaniel.
Between the years of 2011 and 2017, seventy one percent of all the dog bite related fatalities were caused by one breed — seventy one percent — and that was the pit bull. Pit bulls account for only six percent of all dogs in the United States these are U.S. figures.
So we only have a little bit time left so I’m going to ask you to accelerate your testimony please.
Geneticists, neurologists and psychologists now agree that genetic factors are dominant in determining behavior especially with animals with less sophisticated brains than primates. Retrievers retrieve; border collies herd; terriers dig and fighting breeds fight. Pit bulls and other related fighting breeds have a different bite style and strength.
You can read in the articles, which I have prepared for you that most dogs have between twenty and forty two hundred and four hundred pounds per inch of pressure in their jaws. Pit bulls have eight hundred to two thousand. The statistical evidence compiled by scientific and medical professionals substantiate this.
Insurance there is no insurance for pit bulls because they are on the do not insure list compiled by homeowners insurance policy for the liability clause homeowners’ policies. The last time I was in a hospital with a dog bite it was twelve thousand dollars. Luckily I have the same insurance as the richest man in the world thank you Bill Gates and Microsoft now how much insurance does the state of Washington subsidize or the federal government?
Now another big flaw in the school this legislation is the retesting, if a dog can fail a test and then pass a test it also means the dog can pass a test one day and fail another day, especially depending upon who is giving the test. The tests have no scientific reliability and as the honorable representative Appleton said, we are ignorant of the triggers. One of the reasons why these tests are highly inaccurate, and it says so in these scientist journals, is that fighting breeds were bred to not display their aggression [bred to suppress warning signals], because this was advantageous in the fighting ring.
Temperament is not relevant; the actuarial statistics are.
If these tests, these temperament tests, are so accurate, why are so many pit bull owners killed by their own pets, which they raise from puppies? Unfortunately, I don’t have any statistics on that. If behavior can be so accurately predicted by human observation, why do so many pit bull owners get killed by their own beloved family members. Now in terms of the legislation, what happens when a dog owner buys a pit bull as a pet and fails the test? Under what conditions will the pit bull reside in the town until it passes the test? Will be under quarantine?
This is a very poorly written law. Will there be an identification badge? There is no stipulation that all dogs who pass the test will have to wear identification. So that animal control officers and the police can identify which dogs are banned. It will be just like the a ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act]. People can roam around with pit bulls and say they have been tested, but how will they prove it?
To have a non-governmental organization, which operates and lobbies only to protect dog owners rights and whose raison d’etre is the promotion of dog ownership, to create the criteria for testing of dogs is irresponsible to voters, citizens and the taxpayer. There is a reason why responsible kennel owners and doggie day care centers do not accept pit bulls and other breeds. What do we have next? A law making it illegal for these business owners to discriminate against breeds?