Thursday, February 5, 2009

Breed profiling hits Lancaster CA

On January 27, the Lancaster City Council voted unanimously for mandatory spay/neuter for Pit Bulls, Rottweilers or dogs whose physical characteristics are determined to look enough like one of those breeds, as determined by law enforcement. The law is to go into effect thirty days from the date of the meeting. The council also voted in stiff fines and other penalties for owners of these breeds should the dog be determined to be “potentially dangerous” or “vicious”.

This measure was voted in supposedly to target gang members, who law enforcement says uses these dogs to terrorize other citizens. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris believes that law enforcement can tell which brown people in Lancaster are gang members and which are citizens just by looking at them. Same goes for the dogs.

Boy, I’m glad to hear that there are psychics on staff who can determine, just by looking at them, which dogs are “potentially dangerous”. And to hear that if you cannot punish those whom you believe to be responsible for wrongdoing, you’ll take the big-man step of killing their dogs instead. After all, if one reads the article in the Antelope Valley Press you’d think the streets were slick with the blood of small children killed by dogs on a near daily basis.

Except, of course, that during a three month sweep in the area, most of the 283 calls animal control officers got about pities were for loose or stray dogs, and that the one attack that seems to be on the record happened in 2006, when a toddler was attacked at the home of a family friend --- not at the hands of the local gangs.

And it’s darn big of the mayor, when asked about good dogs being affected by the ordinance to be willing "to bear the weight of some injustice" against responsible pittie owners.

Look, I’m completely in favor of responsible pet ownership, and I strongly believe that some form of animal population control is definitely in order, not only for Lancaster, but for huge swaths of the Central Valley. But to be so single-handedly vitriolic towards a couple of breeds is wrong. And he clearly seems to have a deep personal bias against these dogs and the people who choose to own them.

"Even if people who are not gangbangers have their pit bulls taken away, it means that these beasts are off the streets," Mayor Parris said. "And they are indeed beasts.”

No, Mayor Parris, they are dogs. What people have done to them is beastly, and your inability to tell the difference between the two doesn’t make you much better.

For a couple of other takes on the matter, head to L.A. Now or Unleashed.

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