Society

Pit Bulls: Breed Specific Laws (BSL) Considered in Medford, Oregon

| by Denise A Justin

A rash of recent attacks in Oregon has the Medford City Council looking at banning Pit Bulls or requiring that the dogs be sterilized.

In the past three years, more than half of the 89 attacks on people and animals have been by Pit Bulls, according to police statistics.

Medford Police Chief Tim George said the number probably represents only a fraction of the attacks and bites in the area, and he urged the City Council on Thursday to “put more teeth” into local laws to combat the threat posed by dogs such as Pit Bulls, the Mail Tribune reports.

.Chief George said he wants a local ordinance that will prevent attacks rather than existing laws that deal with the situation after the attack.

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Pit Bulls — the most menacing type of dog in Medford — also are the breed of choice for drug dealers and have proven to be a threat to police, said Deputy Chief Brett Johnson.

"If we see dogs on drug search warrants, they are Pit Bulls," he said.

The City Council decided to direct a police advisory committee to look at the issue before taking action. The committee will hold public hearings on the issue in the next few months and bring a recommendation to the council by April.

About 20 people, many of them pit bull supporters, attended the meeting as the Council debated a possible dangerous-dog ordinance.

Many councilors said most Pit Bull owners are responsible, and they hoped to find a way to deal with the minority of residents who have dangerous dogs.

Councilor Bob Strosser said he preferred an approach that would create harsher penalties on residents who continue to own attack dogs.

"In a majority of these cases, the irresponsible individuals walk away," he said. If a vicious dog that has attacked someone is euthanized, often the owner just gets another dog to replace it.

Other member indicated they hoped to draft a law that wouldn't single out a particular breed--though Pit Bulls dominated the discussion.

Other cities in the country and many nearby Washington State have banned pit bulls, while others are recommending that Pit Bulls must be sterilized.

VICTIMS WANT PROTECTION

Numerous communities are wrestling with dangerous-dog laws, such as Baker City, after a 5-year-old was killed in a Pit Bull attack in September 2013.

In February 2011, a 9-year-old Central Point boy was severely injured when three Pit Bulls attacked him at his father's home

As the city looks at its options, other groups, including pit bull supporters, are urging the city not to take extreme measures.

Kathleen Olmstead, 63, of Ashland asked the City Council to take action after her Anatolian shepherd, Halee, was attacked in a Medford park in September.

Two pit bulls and another dog charged Halee, wrestling the 90-pound dog to the ground. One ripped at Halee's neck, another at her stomach and a third gnawed on her leg, according to KVAL.

Bystanders broke up the attack by punching and kicking the attacking dogs, which were later euthanized. After $4,000 in veterinarian bills and being confined to a crate for two months, Halee has recovered, though she remains wary.

"I was really scared for her life," Olmstead said.

WILL THE BREED BECOME EXTINCT?

Juston Menteer, a 33-year-old Central Point breeder of pure-bred pit bulls, said he would prefer the city of Medford not pass any laws against dogs, particularly banning a specific breed.

"We see the writing on the wall, that at some point they're trying to make the breed extinct," he said.

Source: KVAL, Mail Tribune