Thursday, December 16, 2010

NYC law keeps Pits in Shelters, or will it eventually keep them out?

While checking in with the dogs in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan Animal Control website, which I do frequently, I found a volunteer description of a sweet pit mix (1 year old Daddy, below) that said that he was brought in because of NYC's Housing Association ban.

Because little Daddy is a pit mix, he is not able to live in New York Housing Authority buildings. The NYCHA controls 8% of all rental housing in New York City and 5% of the city's population lives in their buildings. (See this 2009 article about the ban for more info.) The ban went into effect May of 2009, a year and a half ago, and does not allow any pit bulls, Rottweilers or Doberman pinschers to live in the buildings. In addition, no animal can be above 25 pounds. Many of these people can offer loving homes to neglected and abandoned animals, but are not allowed to.

This got me wondering how many of the pit bulls I see at Animal Care and Control are a direct result of this ban. Maybe the space and funding of the shelter has less to do with the slaughter of all of these pits than I thought. In the weeks before the ban was enacted, 100 out of 170 dogs that went from Animal Control to NYCHA tenants would have been banned. That means that NYCHA tenants were a significant market for the shelters, and an important part of saving animals' lives.

New York City does have a significant "pit bull problem" as the ASPCA referred to it in 2008. (Read more, here.) Because pits occupy 43% of shelter space and make up 82% of euthanizations in New York City, the ASPCA targeted young black and Latino men (the main owners of the breed) to attempt to sterilize as many pits as possible, for the small donation of $25. San Francisco even implemented a $500 fine for failing to sterilize one's pit bull.

While I feel that both of these laws are discriminatory, the second makes more sense than the first. Listen up, pit bull owners, if you don't spay and neuter your dogs, you had better know that you are responsible for any potential puppies, and you had better be damn sure that they will have healthy and happy lives with people who can and will care for them. Dog owners who have no business bringing puppies into this world for a quick buck are the ones to blame for all the torment and torture these dogs live through. Both of our pit bull mixes are altered, they will bring no unwanted baby pitties into the world, and that is the responsible thing to do. I don't think there can be any excuses for this when there are so many unwanted dogs out there dying when they reach maturity.

So many pits are put down after painful lives, starving on the streets or being fought or tortured by their owners. I would much rather prevent these dogs from ever being born than allowing them to be born just to live a live of torment to end alone and struggling on a cold table at the shelter.

Housing bans are preventing pits at the shelter from finding homes, and that is truly sad. But many residents of NYCHA claim that the pits that live in their buildings are being abused, trained for fighting, and bred for profit. The ban and the breed-specific neutering/spaying proposals would ideally save dogs' lives in the long run, while unfortunately creating more suffering in the short term. As much as I love this breed, I want to see them thrive with good homes. I want to stop seeing heart breaking stories about them. I think the best way to achieve this is to bring them back to being the reliable 'family pet,' and not allowing them to be abused, over-bred, and tortured by thugs. Without allowing them to over-breed, we can bring the pit bull back from the inner-city back into the suburbs, where I am sure they will live longer healthier lives.

1 comment:

  1. This is so frustrating! I get why they put this ban in place but it is a little misguided. Again, it is not the breed, but the people that own many dogs of the breed. Banning the breed isn't going to prevent animal abuse, dog fighting, or over-breeding. Many places have tried it, and it doesn't work. So it won't work here, even with their good intentions. Instead, as you say, the shelters just fill up with banned dogs in need of good homes.

    Your solutions take a lot more time and a lot more effort, but unlike banning dogs, they actually work.


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