"Good public policy is driven by the interests of our constituents, by science and by evidence, not by media hysteria, nor bold headlines and slogans."
MMP Hiller was speaking in support of a Private Member's Bill urging Ontario's Liberal Government to lift the breed-specific ban against "pit bulls," or as many of us know them, Stratfordshire Terriers.
In Ontario, as well with various dunderheads in the United States, "Staffys" are considered the "assault weapons" of the canine world.
We saw three years ago how a woman named Nancy Genovese was treated by the media (and excoriated by some mindless idiots on 27East) because of the presence of an "assault weapon" in her car when she was arrested for taking photos outside of the 106th ANG installation at Gabreski Airport.
While the media-flogged "assault weapon" phobia can be tracked to the 1989 schoolyard shooting in Stockton, California, "breed-specific legislation" citing "pit bulls" in one form or another began surfacing in jurisdictions as varied as Miami, Florida and Denver, Colorado, in addition to Ontario over the past two decades.
One of the problems with these ordinances was that no one seemed to know exactly what they were proscribing1, and so used a scatter-shot approach like Denver, citing:
"...the breeds of dogs known as 'pit bulls' include any American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds..."
...and went even further with the assumptive:
"...the breeds of dogs known as "pit bulls" have been electively bred for the purpose of dog fighting...."
(And all this was well before Michael Vick had even entered high school!)
In 2000, the CDC published a 21-year long study on dog bite-related fatalities2, finding that "pit bull terrier" breeds and mixes were responsible for 76 (approximately 32%) of the deaths reported, and concluded:
"It is extremely unlikely that [pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers] accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities."
The report further noted that:
"...since 1975, dogs belonging to more than 30 breeds have been responsible for fatal attacks on people, including Dachshunds, a Yorkshire Terrier, and a Labrador Retriever."
So some sanity seems to be prevailing North of our border of late with the long-overdue dismantling of multi-billion dollar boondoggle 16-year old long gun registry, and the recognition that the canine breed-specific ban in Ontario needs to be scrapped.
Bringing it home...
What really caught my attention in this matter was the broad applicability of the opening quotation, and one which immediately came to mind was developer Andrew Mendelson's attemps to backdoor an approval for a supermarket on his property off Old Riverhead Road.
To paraphrase the salient language:
"Good public policy is driven by the interests of our residents and by proper planning, not by public relations 'hype.'"
Thinking more about it, Mendelson's parcels might make for a good site for a new firehouse which would accommodate the Westhampton Beach Fire Department's existing apparatus.
The District could immediately start building a modern firehouse from scratch, and the developers could build right next door to Waldbaum's, and let the suits in Montvale, New Jersey live it out head-to-head with a brand new Trader Joe's or Fairway.
What a great idea this firehouse/supermarket idea is! Increase response time by getting the fire equipment out of the downtown area and the head-to-head store competition could potentially benefit everyone.
Having owned a Staffordshire Bull Terrier for fourteen years, I lament the reputation this breed has aquired. These dogs are known as "England's family guardian" in the Country of their origin. I only wish I had taken pictures of my very young niece resting on top of my sleeping Staffordshire. Killer dog indeed.