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2010-06-23 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Banish the Breed Ban: Rockville Centre Board of Trustees, get ready for howls from the dog world. When it comes to monitoring dog bites and irresponsible owners, judge the “Deed not the Breed.” Seems you didn’t do your legal homework before slipping through a law forbidding your Village residents from owning Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. Not only is Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) misguided, unfair and unenforceable, it is illegal in New York State.

Rockville Centre already had sufficient, existing local statutes to deal with designated dangerous or vicious dogs- dogs that had bitten someone; yet last week the LI Herald reported that the Rockville Centre Board voted to ban two breeds. Supposedly they were not targeting Rotties and Pits already living in the Village. However, those owners would still have to register their dogs at the Village Hall.

It seems complaints from residents and the police about problems at a few houses with many Pits and Rotties prompted the breed ban. Hmm…over and above the illegal ordinance, do you see flawed logic? The alleged houses that are causes of the controversy are grandfathered in.

Breed specific legislation (BSL) is the overall term for laws that discriminate against breeds completely in hopes of reducing dog attacks. According to the ASPCA, one Maryland county spent a quarter of a million dollars a year to enforce a Pit Bull ban, only to find public safety had not improved and that all owner/dog transgressions were already covered under generic Animal Control law such as leash laws. Furthermore there is no evidence that BSL makes communities safer for people or other pets. After studying fatalities from dog bites, even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control decided not to support BSL, citing the inaccuracy of dog bite data, the difficulty in identifying breeds (especially mixes) and the likelihood that determined dog exploiters will substitute new breeds, not regulated, to make aggressive for dog fighting or intimidation.

BSL causes tons of problems. Breed bans penalize good owners and their trained, socialized dogs, which pushes model citizens away. Bad owners of the “No No” dogs tend to ignore the law or go underground. When they hide contraband canines, foregoing outdoor exercise, vaccines, and spay/neuter, these owners jeopardize public safety and the health of the dogs even more. Where do officials draw the line as the list of unwelcome breeds expands to Shepherds, Dobies, Chows or even piranha Chihuahuas? Who decides which dogs are singled out? The breed labeled “Pit” can be subjective with many variations on the theme. Will the trustees be dusting for paw prints or swabbing dogs for DNA?

Most important, New York is one of 13 states that prohibit BSL. “The ban the Rockville Centre Board of Trustees recently passed is illegal as per NYS Agriculture & Markets Law, Article 7, Section 107 (5) which says municipalities cannot pass a law that disciminates toward any specific breed,” states LI attorney, Amy Chaitoff, an authority on animal legislation.

Come to the Pooch Protest: The targeted breeds need your support. On June 29, the LI Coalition of Dog Fanciers will address the Village Board trying to have this breed ban repealed under state law. All dog lovers, no matter your breed preference, are asked to show up at this very important meeting at Rockville Centre Village Hall (1 College Place) by 7:30 pm. Collective growls will create a stronger impact. If you can’t attend, call Mayor Mary Bossart at 516-678-9260 to explain why this ruling is counterproductive. Leash laws, anti-tethering rules, guidelines to deal with individual dangerous dogs, plus responsible pet ownership classes will do more to protect the community. I have tickets to see Denzel on Broadway that night, so would someone please stuff this column inside a Kong and deliver it to Rockville Centre Village Hall?

Free Rabies Shots Reminder: Last Hope Animal Rescue is holding a FREE dog/cat rabies vaccine clinic open to all Long Island pet owners at Babylon Town Shelter 51 Lamar St. W. Babylon this Sunday June 27 from 11 am to 3 pm, rain or shine. No appointment necessary. Dogs must be leashed; cats must be in carriers. Last Hope is able to provide this free public service thanks to a grant from Pet Peeves., Inc. There will be a tent set up outdoors for most dog shots but the cats will be invited into the shelter lobby for extra security against escape attempts. For more information, please call 516-223-6673 or email feralpats@yahoo.com.

Last Hope will be supplying the shots, tags, necessary paperwork and several vet techs, while additional medical staff and Dr. Tricia LaSala the clinic’s supervising veterinarian will come from Aldrich Animal Hospital, part of the VCA network. VCA is kind enough to donate super raffle prizes for participating pet owners. Gift certificates are redeemable at any of their ten VCA hospitals on LI. Besides getting a free rabies vaccine, your lucky dog may win a Best Care Package worth $199 (which includes exam, blood work, heartworm test, urinalysis, fecal exam) or five days’ free boarding for a dog/cat; or walk away with one of the Advantage or Revolution gift packages.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Bradley” #93344 is an older Beagle content to hang out or to nosh on his bone; whereas “Roll Over Rover” likes to perform. “Rover” #93294 looks like a Dobie on a Basset frame. He will sit, beg, speak and roll over for a cookie paycheck.

Male: “Calvin” #93359 the latest sweet brindle Pit; parti-color Cocker #93377 found on Arnold Ave.; “Garfield” semi-long hair tabby in C-7; “Tiny” tuxedo cat in the lobby.

Females: “Jinni” #93155 carries her bowl; white Akita or Jindo #93373; “Brownie” #93150 pup who grew up at shelter; “Star” #92319-longtimer Pit.

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