Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ottawa pit bull advocates back with more bite

By The Herald Staff | 11/18/2013

Jason Berve had a lot of support Monday night at the Ottawa City Commission study session.

In an effort to lift the breed-specific rules in Ottawa, which ban community members from owning pit bulls, Berve appeared before city commissioners once again — this time with a near-capacity crowd of pit bull enthusiasts and supporters behind him.

Jason Berve had a lot of support Monday night at the Ottawa City Commission study session.

In an effort to lift the breed-specific rules in Ottawa, which ban community members from owning pit bulls, Berve appeared before city commissioners once again — this time with a near-capacity crowd of pit bull enthusiasts and supporters behind him.

“Aside from the behind-the-scenes work, this is the third time I’ve been in front of the city commission,” Berve, Ottawa, said.

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the banning or restriction of specific breeds of dogs considered “dangerous” breeds, such as pit bull breeds, rottweilers and German shepherds, according to the American Humane Association’s website.

“I’m trying to get rid of breed-specific legislation to make Ottawa safer with animal laws,” Berve said. “When you focus on just one breed, you forget about all the other dangerous dogs that are out there.”

The problem with breed-specific legislation is that it focuses on the wrong issue, Berve said.

“The reason [pit bulls] are dangerous should be focused on the owners rather than the actual dog,” he said. “Most problems are created by negligence from the owners.”

Pit bulls have long gotten a bad rap for being dangerous, Berve said, but at one point, so did breeds like rottweilers, German shepherds and Doberman pinschers.

“I think [breed-specific legislation] creates a lot of unnecessary problems for specific breeds being targeted because it’s not just pit bulls,” he said. “There’s other breeds targeted in other towns, but the ones that are, a lot of them get euthanized and stuff when they’re perfectly good dogs.”

Ottawa is one of many cities or counties that have breed-specific legislation. Baldwin City, Kansas City and many others force community members to give up their pets when moving into the area — something with which Berve said he’s is all-too familiar.

“We’ve got one pit bull but we can’t have it here in town so it stays at my parents’ house,” Berve said. “We would like the law to be changed so we don’t have to move out of Ottawa so we can get our dog back.”

Pit bulls are loving, loyal dogs, Berve said, and the breed proved it when it surpassed one of the most tolerable breeds around.

“The American Temperament Testing Society recently released its new results,” he said. “Pit bulls have actually just jumped over golden retrievers for the most tempered dog with an 86.8 percent passing score.”

City commissioners agreed to hear the public’s comments on lifting or changing the pit bull ban and said it would hold a public hearing at its first January evening meeting. The date for that meeting has yet to be decided.

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