On Vicious Dogs, and Pit Bulls

South Milwaukee no longer bans pit bulls. Instead, we are treating all dogs equally under our tough, but fair, vicious dog ordinance.

The City Council voted to remove the pit bull ban, in place since the 1990s, last week. I support the change, and the rationale for making the decision.

There are a number of reasons why this is a good decision.

First, our Health Department doesn’t have the resources — specifically, people and time — to properly enforce the current ban. And even if they did, there is no definitive, scientific way to even tell a dog is a pit bull.

So how can we enforce this fairly?

Studies have also shown no single dog breed bites more than another. And the costs of breed bans for agencies like the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission — where 45% of the dogs they bring in each year are either pit bull or pit mixes, something I saw first-hand on a tour of the county taxpayer-funded facility last year — are real. Because of this, the Humane Society shows South Milwaukee is not alone in moving away from these breed-specific bans, and some states have even moved to prevent communities from enacting such bans.

Still, I would not support removing South Milwaukee’s ban, but for this: Our vicious dog ordinance has and continues to put strong regulations on the owners of vicious dogs, of all breeds, and delivers real punishments on those dogs and their owners. We will continue to diligently enforce it.

A vicious dog is a vicious dog. The revised ordinance keeps our community safe, and doesn’t discriminate.

Check out the ordinance here. Search “vicious dog.”

19 Comments

Filed under South Milwaukee

19 responses to “On Vicious Dogs, and Pit Bulls

  1. Theresa

    Thank you!!!!

  2. Great bring back a breed that is responsible for 254 deaths in the last 12 years. Thats a great idea. The city of milwaukee should be 100% responsible for any deaths that result from a pitbull.

    Local wisconsin resident Jeff Borchardt, Before his 14 month old son’s death, Jeff said that he used to believe that a dog’s behavior was determined by the way it was raised. He no longer believes this myth — a falsehood widely cited by pit bull advocates and humane groups. The dogs that Susan owned with her boyfriend had no history of aggression. The couple raised the two pit bulls from puppyhood. The dogs were not abused or neglected and both were sterilized. “Something made the dogs snap on that day,” Jeff said.

    “Believing the myth, ‘It’s not the breed, it’s all how you raise them,’ is what left us without a son,” Jeff said.

    The difference between a normal dog bit and a pitbull bite is puncture wounds to the face and a face ripped off.

    Milwaukee should be 100% civilly liable for the next pitbull death that occurs along with Erik Brooks!

    • You seem to have a weird definition of “local.” I always find it incredible how many times Borchardt’s story changes so he can put more blame on the dogs. Take your DBO-sanctioned hatred somewhere else.

    • Nikki

      Chances are, you have never met a pit bull type dog or if you think you have, you likely misidentified the “breed”. Many dogs are labeled “pit bulls” incorrectly, based on appearance. If a dog has a large head, short fur and muscular body, many make the assumption they are a pit bull. I have a lot of experience with dogs and breed identification, as I worked at a large shelter in South central Wisconsin for 3 years as a vet tech. During my tenure there, I specifically remember 2 very aggressive dogs that had to be put down. Neither were pit bull type dogs, in fact both dogs were breeds that quote unquote are considered great family dogs. I urge you to actually meet some pit bull type dogs instead of judging their behavior based on their appearance. What if we judged other humans based on appearance? Oh wait, some people do..

      • Marie

        Where’s the “like” button? Because I “love” this comment!

        I have a dog that’s often misidentified as a pit she was from the humane society and I can say as she grew up I’m glad for the massive amount of help/suppourt they gave us in helping people learn! (I feel like tia Torres but with misidentification I’ve had to do everything myself!)
        In fact: there was one time someone thought my moms 6/7 month old pug/beagle puppy he was old enough to know his name and he is black was a “pit puppy” had I been there I would have likely laughed in there face “that thing? Only thing it will do is ignore you!”

  3. Lori

    Finally, reason prevails over hysteria! This ban is a primary reason I sold my home in South Milwaukee and bought elsewhere. No way I was giving up my best friend (who may or may not be a pit mix) or the opportunity to foster these wonderful, misunderstood dogs. Congrats South Milwaukee, better late than never!

  4. Well done, Mayor Brooks and council. Community-based approaches that don’t single out a breed have been far more successful than breed bans.

  5. Jen

    I don’t live in your city but as a fellow Wisconsinite I say THANK YOU! As you stated there are no studies showing pits attack or hurt more than any other breed. I have been bit by three golden retrievers in my life. Do I think we should ban a golden, heck no.

    Be smart with dogs. Be tough on people who choose to turn good dogs into horrible things. Thanks for fighting the good fight and not following the side of ignorance and fear!

  6. QueenMamaof3

    I’m glad that the city overturned the ban on pit bulls. I used to support it. But then I met some of the nicest dogs, who also had been labeled pit bull, while at the dog park in Oak Creek. I’ve spoken to some really good people, people who would have given more to our city than they would have taken, who passed on a house in SM because they couldn’t legally own their beloved family pet or didn’t want to live in a community that had BSL as it limited their pet choices.

    I’ve been reading the book Pit Bulls by Bronwen Dickey. I haven’t researched the everything presented as fact in the book, but there is some decent logic there against BSL.

    Let’s continue to deal with all vicious dogs rather than just those that look like a pit bull.

  7. Why are we still breeding pit bulls? No one needs to own a fighting dog for a pet. There are over 300 plus breeds of dog and most are safe. Why do these politicians listen to the pit lobby when all you have to do is count the dead bodies to prove pit bulls are dangerous.

    • The “pit lobby.” LOL, sounds so ominous. Like we’re all just sitting here waiting for permission from the Illuminati to sic our dogs on you.

      It’s funny, actually, how most lobbies have specific words and phrases that they center around, and you’re comment is practically verbatim DBO talking points.

  8. Thank you for the common sense!
    It is the owner, not the breed that causes problems… and that goes across the broad spectrum of dog breeds from tiny chihuahua’s to great danes. And I have had more nips and bites from small breeds and never by a large dog…

    So, thank you. 🙂

  9. Sue H

    I will say that it’s about time the ban was released. I use to live In South Milwaukee & had a pit mix, not mean at all. I’ve been a Vet Tech for 17 yrs & I’ve worked with SOOO MANY NICE Pit Bull & mixes & I’ve never been bitten by a Pit, it was mostly your small dogs. You can’t judge a dog by it’s breed, or a person by their color. Yes, Pits have a bad rep, but why don’t you look at some of these people who are breeding them that shouldn’t be breeding them because they are “Backyard Breeders”, they shouldn’t be breeding. It takes a RESPONSIBLE person to breed them & you are getting your backyard breeders breeding these dogs that are probably inbreed & brought up for the wrong reason.

  10. Rocandroo

    I think it was very irresponsible for the city council to remove the one deterrent we had for introducing pit bulls into our community. You can try to rebrand the breed all you want, but denying reality won’t make pit bulls any less dangerous. Some dogs are bred for hunting, some for herding and some for fighting…get real! If all dogs are the same, why don’t they use chihuahuas in dog fighting rings? How about golden retrievers? Ever heard of a dachshund dog fight? There is only one reason why pit bulls are consistently used, and that is because they are an aggressive breed that was bred to bite and hold large animals, like bulls, around the face and head. Eventually, bull baiting was outlawed so they used them for dog fighting. They are strong, agile and continue to attack, that’s why pit bulls are used in dog fights and not dalmatians. Is anyone really ever surprised when they hear of a pit bull attack!?! This is what they have been bred to do, they fight! Why are pit bulls the “dog of choice” for every drug dealer, gang banger and dog fighter? It’s an aggressive and intimidating dog with a high prey drive; to deny their breeding history is appalling.
    To pretend that dogs were not bred for specific reasons and that they can have very different traits from one another…is crazy. Dogs are not all the same, so please do discriminate against certain breeds – the insurance companies seem to fully understand this and find certain breeds to be a liability.
    This was a poorly made decision that puts public safety at risk.

    • Sue H

      Everyone has their own opinion, but I will say with the MANY years that I have been a Veterinary Technician, I’ve met some really nice pit bulls. I’m talking sticking needles in them to draw blood, cutting their nails or just giving them shots. The first dog that I was bitten by was a Boston Terrier. The worse dogs I’ve worked with are your small dogs, Husky’s, Malamutes, & Chow Chows, which this is one breed that isn’t the nicest either. So, lets talk about judging breeds, there is good in bad in all of them!!

  11. Rocandroo

    When analyzing dog bite statistics, it is important to understand what constitutes a bite. A single bite — recorded and used in dog bite statistics — is a bite that “breaks the skin.” One bite by a poodle that leaves two puncture wounds is recorded the same way as a pit bull mauling, which can constitute hundreds of puncture wounds and extensive soft tissue loss. Pit bulls disproportionately lead bite counts across U.S. cities and counties. But whether a pit bull bites more or less than another dog breed is not the point. The issue is the acute damage a pit bull inflicts when it does choose to bite. The pit bull’s “hold and shake” bite style causes severe bone and muscle damage, often inflicting permanent and disfiguring injuries. Once a pit bull starts an attack it doesn’t stop, this is what it was bred to do, it is a fighting “game” breed.
    There is also legal precedent that states that Pit bulls are inherently dangerous, there are many, these are the most recent:
    Hardwick v. Town of Ceredo (2013)
    Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
    That each Defendant’s dogs are of the breed that is typically referred to generically as pit bull dogs which are aggressive by nature, have been known as attack animals with strong massive heads and jaws, and have been found to represent a public health hazard. The Majority of jurisdictions have accepted the proposition that dogs of this type have a propensity to be aggressive and attack without provocation and it is well established that such dogs have gotten a lot of notoriety of being dangerous to public health and safety.

    Tracey v. Solesky (2012)
    Court of Appeals of Maryland
    We are modifying the Maryland common law of liability as it relates to attacks by pit bull and cross-bred pit bull dogs against humans. With the standard we establish today (which is to be applied in this case on remand), when an owner or a landlord is proven to have knowledge of the presence of a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull (as both the owner and landlord did in this case) or should have had such knowledge, a prima facie case is established. It is not necessary that the landlord (or the pit bull’s owner) have actual knowledge that the specific pit bull involved is dangerous. Because of its aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflict serious and sometimes fatal injuries, pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are inherently dangerous.
    There is also legal precedent that refers to identifying a pit bull:
    “Pit bull dogs possess unique and readily identifiable physical and behavioral traits which are capable of recognition both by dog owners of ordinary intelligence…” – Ohio v. Anderson, Supreme Court of Ohio (1991)
    “There is no constitutional requirement that legislation be written with scientific precision to be enforceable.” – Colorado Dog Fanciers v. Denver Supreme Court of Colorado (1991)

    So why is our mayor, city attorney and common council ignoring all this legal precedent? This information is all very easily found. Pit bulls lead in not only dog bites, but maulings and fatalities. Many cities, states and countries have pit bull bans, to say otherwise is untrue. Just like saying no one can identify a pit bull is untrue, there are many court cases that refer to this.

    There has been a huge pit bull problem for the last thirty years, and it’s not our city’s ban on them. Stop the fairytales and look at the history, data and the victims. Stop being politically correct (all dogs are not the same) and do what’s best for the people of South Milwaukee.

  12. Diane Tatreaux Tatro

    It has always been my belief that securing a community against as many dangers and security risks as possible is the most successful means we have to encourage development and those things free loving Americans most appreciate; a world without fear.

    • Diane Tatreaux Tatro

      Let’s see if the awaiting of moderation refuses to post this comment, or whether this page recognizes freedom of speech and refuses to sensor adverse opinions.

  13. It was never was a Pit Bull problem it was an animal abuse problem, it sounds like your city is doing the right thing. I believe that offenders should be prosecuted under animal cruelty, public safety and deadly weapons violations. Too many innocent folks and dogs have paid a high price for these irresponsible and cruel owners. Thank You.

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