Watertown Wisconsin is considering creating an ordinance that would single out pit bull type dogs as dangerous by default. City officials cite the increase in number of dog bites and attacks as the reason for the proposed changes. “Pit bulls” are said to be the primary culprits.
Data from the city tells a different story. In an article published by the Watertown Daily Times the data is shown but the whole story presented by the data is excluded.
“There were 1,831 dogs registered with the city in 2012, according to the dog report completed by the police. The most popular dog in the city was the labrador retriever with 315 reported, followed by the shih tzu with 118, followed by the golden retriever with 113. There were 44 pit bulls registered in the city in 2012.
According to the report, 78 dog bites to humans were reported between Jan. 1, 2010 and Aug. of 2012. Pit bulls were involved in 19 percent of bites, mixed breed or others were involved in 18 percent, unknown breeds in 17 percent, labrador retrievers in 8 percent and cocker spaniels in 8 percent.”
This data leaves out the number of unregistered dogs, which is usually the majority of dogs in a municipality. Also missing is whether the biting dogs were registered but most importantly is the context of the numbers. 19% of bites in this case is roughly 15 bites in a 17 month period, spanned over whatever various mixes of dogs were considered to be pit bulls. While any dog bite is unacceptable from a community safety standard, addressing a minority of bites with an ordinance will not reduce the real factors involved in dog bites.
If one type of dog were to be singled out the remaining 81% of bites would have virtually nothing done about them.
Residents and locals: Reach out now to your officials to stress the importance of breed neutral as a better path to public safety. 100% of bites need to be addressed. A committee meeting will be held Wednesday Feb. 13th at 5:00 in room 2044 at Watertown City Hall, 106 Jones Street. Please attend the meeting if at all possible, or you can contact you aldermen here.