One snarky mention of the comparative risks of mixed martial arts events and pit bulls roused a blogstorm of comments from pit bull owners earlier this week.
Pit bull lovers, rain down your rage on Madison. Following one (one) pit bull attack, the Madison City Commission has placed pit bull regulations on its Monday evening meeting agenda. Scroll down to page 52 of the agenda packet, and you'll find proposed Ordinance #1506 on vicious animals. Fair enough.
Then comes the bÃªte noire of pit bull fanatics: breed-specific legislation. Apparently finding angels insufficient protection (and if I'm to put any stock in angels, I expect intervention before the dog bites), the Madison City Commission will discuss Ordinance #1507, which would impose the following requirements on owners of pit bulls, pit bull mutts, and dogs that look like pit bulls:
- Register your dog and pay Madison $20 every two years.
- Always confine your dog in a locked structure or fence.
- If you leash the dog, you must keep a firm grip on the leash; you may not simply tie or chain the dog to an inanimate structure.
- Erect a prominent sign warning everyone you have a dog covered by this ordinance.
- Maintain a $250,000 single-incident insurance policy to cover injury, damage, and death caused by your dog.
- Submit photos of your dog to Madison's Animal Control Officer.
- Notify the city if you move, if your dog has puppies, if you get rid of your dog, or if your dog dies.
- Put a collar with your official tag on your dog.
The insurance mandate could give our local 9-12 Project a chance to get some wind back in its sails. I might raise an eyebrow in that direction as well. There's probably more damage done around town by drunken idiots than by dogs, but I haven't heard the city commission suggest requiring everyone with beer in the fridge to buy drunken idiot insurance. Cars have injured and killed more Madisonians than dogs have, but the state requires car owners maintain no more than $50,000 in personal injury/death liability and $25,000 in property liability (see SDCL 32-35-70).
As you pit bull lovers descend on Madison (and yes, please do! We need your sales tax dollars!), remember: the persecution of pit bulls and other dangerous dogs has absolutely no analogy whatsoever to the persecution of blacks, Jews, homosexuals, or other human beings. Please stick with straight risk-benefit analysis.
And take heart, fellow citizens: if Madison's pit bull ordinance is stopped by folks crying "pit bull rights!" or by the simple logic that cars hurt more people than dogs, we can still stop pit bull attacks by other means.
Bonus Boxing Brief: The Madison City Commission apparently thinks kickboxers and similar human pugilists are four times as dangerous as pit bulls. Proposed Ordinance 1505 (May 16 agenda packet, p. 56) requires mixed martial arts event organizers to carry at least $1,000,000 in liability insurance.
Update 2011.05.15 15:25 CDT: Stay tuned for the next big Madison animal controversy, when John Nelson gets Mayor Hexom's goat (or will that be vice versa?).