Officials in Watertown Wisconsin are moving forward with a breed discriminatory ordinance.
Though the ordinance was originally much more stringent, the current form imposes extra restrictions on dogs labeled as pit bulls. Pit bull is defined as American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or any dog displaying a majority of physical traits of one or more of these breeds. Under the current draft of the ordinance these breeds and those that resemble the listed breeds will be declared “high risk,” which carries with it special restrictions.
The restrictions are mandatory spay/neuter, confinement requirements, leash requirements, special registration, liability insurance, a limit of 2 dogs per household and photographs of the dog on file with the town. Also, the owner of a high risk dog cannot own the dog in a multi-family unit. There is no clear definition at this time of what a multi-family unit consists of. This definition could include those who live in a twin home depending on how it is worded. There is currently no grandfather clause that would allow people who live in a “multi-family unit” to keep their dogs.
The proposal is still in a draft form so it is extremely important that people attend the meetings being held by Watertown officials to oppose any form of breed discrimination and offer strong breed neutral alternatives. Responsible pet ownership laws are much more effective in targeting those who are not operating proper care of their animals within the community.
Officials are under the impression that they are targeting irresponsible owners by targeting dogs based on the way they look.
The committee is meeting Wednesday night, July 17th. If anyone in the area can attend to please do so. We are hearing that they may not allow any public comment at this meeting but a strong physical presence is still needed to let officials know that they are targeting the wrong end of the leash. The meeting starts at 5pm in room 8, 106 Jones Street. This item is last on the agenda.
Previous alert for Watertown
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.