Breed bans are currently against the law in California, but after the death last week of a woman who was attacked by Pit Bulls, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich wants the state to start enforcing them.
“We’re going to go back to the state legislature and see if we can change that law, allow the local communities to make up their own minds with regards to breeds,” Tony Bell, a spokesman for Antonovich, told KABC-TV News. “Pit Bulls are a different breed of animal. They’re capable of incredible damage to humans, to other dogs, to horses.”
The Littlerock, Calif., incident was the first fatal Pit Bull attack in the history of Los Angeles County. Pamela Marie Devitt, 63, was out for a walk when she was mauled by four dogs. She died on the way to the hospital. Detectives later seized eight dogs, including six Pit Bulls, at the home of Alex Jackson, their owner.
According to NBC 4 Los Angeles, Jackson had received previous citations “for failing to vaccinate, license, spay, neuter or microchip his dogs.” Neighbors told KTLA that Jackson’s dogs had behaved aggressively in the past, and would often jump over his fence and roam the neighborhood.
Jackson was arrested last week on charges of cultivating marijuana. He is considered a “person of interest” in the case and could face additional charges if DNA tests show that his dogs attacked Devitt.
Ben Devitt, the victim’s husband of more than 40 years, told two local news sources that he doesn’t blame the dogs.
“I have no animosity toward Pit Bulls and my wife had no animosity – we realize it’s people that are responsible for their animals,” he told KABC-TV News.
Devitt told NBC 4, “You get caught up in somebody else’s irresponsibility and these kinds of tragic, devastating things happen. We read about it, we hear about it and now we’re part of it. It’s just hard.”
Antonovich, on the other hand, blames the breed, which his spokesman referred to as “killing machines.”
At a meeting of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, members were asked to consider Antonovich’s proposal to change the definition of what constitutes a “potentially dangerous dog.” The board will discuss the proposal further at a meeting next month.
Breed-specific legislation (BSL), which includes breed bans, has not proven to increase public safety anywhere it has been enforced. Because of this fact, the trend in the U.S. has been to repeal these laws, not to enforce them. Last year, Massachusetts and Ohio removed breed-specific language from its dangerous dogs laws. Connecticut is currently considering prohibiting BSL.
Pet parents of Pit Bulls in Los Angeles County – and many dog lovers in general – are appalled by Antonovich’s proposition. A Change.org petition urging Antonovich not to waste time trying to pass BSL currently has nearly 6,000 signatures.
A peaceful rally to protest BSL will be held outside Antonovich’s office at 500 W. Temple St. in Downtown L.A. on May 20 beginning at 9:40 a.m.
“BSL in LA? What is Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich thinking?” wrote Shorty Rossi, star of “Pit Boss” on Animal Planet, on his Facebook page. He will attend the rally with Hercules, his Pit Bull service dog.
Here’s what you can do to oppose BSL in California:
- Sign the Change.org petition.
- Send an email to Antonovich.
- Send a letter to Antonovich at 500 West Temple Street, Room 869, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
- Leave a message on Antonovich’s Facebook page.
- Attend the rally on May 20.