Bloomington should allow residents to keep the "pit bull" pets they have, but not allow residents to acquire the dogs in the future.
People who have dogs falling into the "pit bull" category should be allowed to keep them, but there should be stringent owner regulations such as those that have passed state constitutional muster in Denver. Not allowing new pit bulls would be taking a pro-active stance to protect public health and safety, which is what government is supposed to do.
Why pick on pit bulls?
There are not definitive statistics on dog bite cases, so we can only surmise that bites from other breeds are probably more numerous.
However, bites from pit bulls are usually much more severe and, therefore, get more attention in the news. Seldom do we hear of a cocker spaniel mauling someone to death.
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Those reports are not uncommon with attacks by pit bulls, which are not a specific breed but a name attached to similar breeds.
One argument in other cities where pit-bull ordinances have been discussed is that owners, not the dogs, should be targeted.
That would be ideal, but levying heavy fines after an attack is too late. That's why we're glad Bloomington is preparing to discuss the merits of a pit-bull ban instead of waiting until someone is seriously hurt.
Normal should consider a similar ordinance.
The Twin Cities would not be alone in considering bans on pit bulls. A quick check shows numerous towns considering them, especially in California where the governor signed a law in October allowing cities to create breed-specific ordinances.
Illinois hasn't gone that far. Only home-rule communities, such as Bloomington and Normal, can write breed-specific laws. Legislators should change the laws to give all towns the authority to address specific animal concerns.
Regardless of what the Legislature in Springfield may consider, Bloomington should proceed with its ordinance.