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Is a Pit Bull Ban on Sonoma's Horizon?

Concept spurred by the mauling of a pregnant Pacifica woman

Could a Pit Bull ban be on Sonoma's horizon?

Sonoma Mayor Pro Tem Joanne Sanders spoke out at Monday night's council meeting after hearing about the .

Sanders told atendees that she was determined the prevent a similar attack within Sonoma city-limits, and directed staff to research regulations for viscious animals.

"I would be remiss if I didn't try to use my position as a city councilwoman to make that change happen here," she said.

In an interview with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sanders said she supports banning pit bulls within city limits.

“I think pit bulls are a great start,” she told the paper.

Legeslation has made the rounds this summer following a series of high-profile attacks.

After an attack on a 9-year-old boy in Vancouver, Wash. looked at a total ban of the breed, while a similar bill in Michigan stalled in January

It was a different scene in 2005, when Denver reinstated its pit bull ban. One of the strongest anti-pit bull bills, the Denver law barrs any dog of the pit bull family (American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers), and any dog that looks a pit bull.

Owners shipped their pits bulls out of town, or put them 'in hiding,' to avoid a round-up which euthanized hundreds of family pets.

After a series of pit-bull attacks in Northern California, a 2005 state law gave California communities the right to mandate breed-specific spaying and neutering, according to the Press Democrat.

Sonoma County also requires owners of "vicious" dogs to hold $500,000 of liability insurance for their pet. 

Others think the breed is getting a bad rap from a few tragic incidents.

Check out this recent , which gives high marks to well trained, compassionate pit bulls.

Clay Hund August 17, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Ron, Guess what, real pit bulls make horrible guard dogs. They may protect their owners during attack, but the reason they do not use pit bulls as guard dogs is because the vast majority of them are too friendly with people. Believe me or not, but you can verify that your perception of the breed is incorrect with a local canine veterinarian. Let the professional set you straight. They used to say German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Rottweilers, were ticking time bombs, respectively, when they were used by criminals. Now how is it that those vicious killers are now well respected, well known household pets, when the media was scaring everyone. When I was a kid, my father brought home a German Shepherd, and my mother was scared to death, due to their bad rap. She claims that is the best dog that she ever owned to this day. All this pit bull hype is the same thing, but different breed. No such thing as a ticking time bomb, as it takes human intervention to produce that.
E August 17, 2011 at 07:20 PM
If the councilwoman wants to make her community safer, she could enforcing leash laws, anti-chaining laws and work to stop animal cruelty in order to make the community safer. If she needs to add something new, expanding the available low cost spay/neuter resources are a great idea. Breed specific bans don't work and are expensive.
Ellen Beck August 17, 2011 at 09:55 PM
Sorry Ms. Coucilwoman but you are an ignorant person! There are so many wonderful pitties that are a part of peoples' families. I've talked to so many people that brag about their wonderful pitties. I had a pit mix for 15 years and she never would go after any animal. I have a pic of her posing with our pet rabbit. It was the pit in her that gave her the funny and loving personality she had. We've heard too many horrid stories of attacks, don't know what happened. I do know bad breeding, bad owners who don't train create a bad situation for the dog. Maybe the media should also report attacks from other breeds or share the good stories about pits.
Elizabeth MacDonald August 18, 2011 at 05:52 AM
I would like to be the person who sets the record straight about American Staffordshire Terriers or similar breeds nicknamed 'Pit Bulls' (btw...that is a nickname associated with numerous breeds of terriers of the Molossian family of dogs). In a recent study of 122 breeds of dogs by the American Temperament Training Society (ATTS), pit bulls received a passing rate of 83.9%, that's as good or better than beagles (78.2%) or golden retrievers (83.2&). You can check out how well your breed did at ATTS.org. In this test, the dogs are put through a series of confrontational situations. Any sign of panic or aggression leads to failure of the test. As with any breed of dog, a pit bull who is raised in a healthy environment, one in which there is attention given to training, will remain a loving and friendly companion. The horror stories can be attributed to backyard breeders and those who use this fine animal as a sick sport. I also want to dispel the myth about the 'locking jaws' of these terriers...and I purposely used their common name, terrier. The terrier breed has a willpower that is unmatched and when they grab onto something, they are unwilling to let go without a fight. The strength of the pit bull has created this myth about locking jaws...there is no known skeletal mechanism that 'locks' their jaws. The pit bull used to be known as the 'nanny of all dogs' with children as they are strongly attached to their family. If you need more information contact me.
Elizabeth MacDonald August 18, 2011 at 06:11 AM
I just want to add something...I LOVE the fact that a local dog boarding business, Maranda Ranch, has NO issue with the boarding or daycare of any breed of dog or cat, including pit bulls. The owners have degrees in dealing with animals and are so well trained in dealing with any breed, they feel very comfortable in welcoming dogs who have been made to out be vicious by a very ignorant media. Kudos, Maranda Ranch and the Byerley's!
James Marshall Berry August 18, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Once again, a Valley wide issue.. what the 2 square miles that is the City of Sonoma has little impact on the entire Valley, but I aggre with Liz on this one..
f croenlein August 18, 2011 at 08:02 PM
im sorry your wrong im a dog groomer and have had dogs all my life and been raised with german shepards, but the pit bull breed should be banned. the example is the owners own dog turned on her and they attack for no reason. they are unpredictable. and the one difference between getting bite by any other dog is they will let go if you hit them a pit will hang on and tear you up. even dead they have to pry there jaws loose im sorry i love all animals but this breed is to much for the average person and it wouldnt be fair to restrict the breed to certain people, unfourtunatly 1 bad apple does spoil the whole bunch
f croenlein August 18, 2011 at 08:05 PM
maybe youll change your tune when it happens to you
f croenlein August 18, 2011 at 08:13 PM
you need to do alittle more research comparing temperments to a golden retreiver and as for locking jaws they were bred to bait bulls and hang onto the necks of bulls they have a very high tolorence to pain and even being shot wont stop it less it kills it all terriers are very energetic but pitts are a different breed. there beautifull dogs but not trustworthy
Elizabeth MacDonald August 20, 2011 at 03:27 AM
f croenlein I have done my homework. I have had/worked with dogs for all of my tender 53 years of life...and not ONCE have I been bitten by a dog. I have worked as a vet tech and now am a caregiver for overnight 'campers' at a local dog camp. I have dealt with dogs on MY level....not as an ALPHA (which is ridiculous)...but, with the thought that there area rules, boundaries and limitations. Cesar Millan is by far the best to learn how to deal with dogs. Too many owners think of their dogs as their kids...that is not only weird...but, it doesn't establish YOU as the pack leader. You have to project calmness and a sense of leadership whenever you deal with a dog. You have to make sure to be able to 'read' your dog and its behaviors. You can train a dog to do anything and to respond. Too many people are lazy and don't train their dogs...and don't demand they respond to a trained command. Calm, assertive behavior by the human will bring about the desired behavior by your dog. I could go on about dog training...but, what I wanted to reiterate...a well-trained dog will be a 'good dog'. If you don't train your dog...YOU ARE A BAD OWNER! I am also going to post some positive stories about these loving and highly intelligent dogs. ...and to Ms Sanders....you might be better suited to laying off of knee jerk reactions to situations you don't have the knowledge with which to back them up. What sells more in the media....gory, awful, bloody stories...or feel-good stories?
Elizabeth MacDonald August 20, 2011 at 03:35 AM
a story about one of the dogs Michael Vick trained to kill... http://www.cesarsway.com/news/dognews/To-Hell-and-Back
Elizabeth MacDonald August 20, 2011 at 04:01 AM
The Pit Bull--American's Sweetheart During the first half of the 20th century, the American Pit Bull Terrier was the closest thing the United States had to a national dog. Pit bulls were the dog of choice for famous personages such as Helen Keller, Laura Ingalls Wilder (of Little House on the Prairie fame), and President Theodore Roosevelt. Meanwhile, pit bulls were chosen as mascots by the Buster Brown shoe company and by the United States itself, which featured pit bulls on American propaganda posters for each of the first two world wars. Fittingly, the first dog decorated with medals by the armed forces was one Sgt. Stubby. In the first world war, Sgt. Stubby not only survived being twice wounded in combat, but captured a German spy and saved his entire platoon from a poison gas attack. In 1903, an American Pit Bull Terrier named Bud became the first dog to travel across the entire US via car. He accompanied the first humans to make a non-stop journey cross country by automobile, but his fame eclipsed theirs, as newspapers in cities across America featured a goggle-wearing Bud. After WW II, pit bulls retreated to relative obscurity, accorded neither more nor less notoriety than other breeds. Surely, underground fighting took place, but this was only a small percentage of pits. Others were used for herding, hunting or guardian purposes, but most were bred and kept primarily as companions.
Elizabeth MacDonald August 20, 2011 at 04:09 AM
Pit Bulls Today Fortunately, despite a few bad apples, most of the humans lucky enough to own pit bulls are responsible caretakers. With responsible owners and numerous groups devoted to promoting an accurate image of the breed, pit bulls are beginning to make a comeback in the popular imagination. Even Sports Illustrated's most recent article on the breed was entirely positive, devoted to showing how nearly all of the supposedly "beyond rehabilitation" dogs from the Michael Vick case were now happy, friendly members of loving homes. As the new century begins, the American Pit Bull Terrier is still a common participant in canine sporting activities, but now their wonderful drive and athleticism is exercised in more joyful activities than in centuries past. (cont'd..)
Elizabeth MacDonald August 20, 2011 at 04:10 AM
Pit bulls routinely defeat all comers in weight pulling competitions, where they hold every world record in their own weight categories. They consistently distinguish themselves in agility and flyball, where their marvelous speed and coordination make them a joy to watch. And perhaps surprisingly to the uninitiated, they also excel in obedience trials. And yes, they are still a working dog, but in a variety of new roles. Pit bulls make great therapy dogs and are commonly used in search and rescue. Following in the footsteps of Sgt. Stubby, they have also distinguished themselves in the role of drug and bomb sniffing dogs. A pit bull named Popsicle holds the Texas record for biggest drug bust, having sniffed out 3000 lbs of cocaine. Most of all, the American Pit bull Terrier continues to be, as it has always been, a great family dog and beloved companion.
Elizabeth MacDonald August 20, 2011 at 04:13 AM
Positive Pit Bull Stories http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/pospress.html
Pamela August 20, 2011 at 08:51 PM
What happened in Pacifica is not a problem of public policy; it's one family's tragedy being used by a Sonoma politician to get a little ink. Shame on that politician for focusing on a problem that doesn't exist here. Breed specific legislation is not the way to go if your concern is strictly safety. Safety begins with education, not legislation. Educate pet owners to chose the right breed for their family and then train that pet to be a good citizen. Its up to the humans to be responsible. You can't just blame the dog. To me, if the City Council was going to take up anything regarding dogs, it should be a resolution that would allow well-behaved dogs on leash to accompany their owners/families to events in the Plaza.
Elizabeth MacDonald August 21, 2011 at 02:57 AM
...and just an aside...could you have chosen a more menacing photo of a muzzled pit bull for your article? Jeez....thanks for helping to keep the myth alive. :(
Patrick Bohler August 21, 2011 at 05:14 AM
ello Joanne! Wake up! Take a look at the California State Constitution. You know, that document you were elected to uphold? It protects responsible dog owners from breed bans. Do you want to be the one who tells a child his best friend is going away to be killed because of what he is and what he looks like? Do you want to explain to my children and my nieces and nephews why you want to see my dogs dead? Do you know the cost of euthanizing large breed dogs runs upwards of $250 or more? Are you prepared to ask the taxpayers to pay for the slaughter in a declining economy? Know the law before you try passing unconstitutional legislation, Ms Sanders.
tony August 21, 2011 at 05:01 PM
NOT! What is it with people who think they have to take their dogs to the Plaza when its full of people, into stores and restaurants? I love dogs, but I don't need your dog sniffing around my feet when I'm eating, or tripping me with the leash while I'm shopping or tangling my feet in the crowded Plaza. BTW, long extension leashes are great on a hiking path, but not on the sidewalk. Yeah, its not the dogs, its the people. A breed specific law may not be well advised and may be unenforceable. What % of Pitty is too much in your mongrel? Prove it. Nobody can. Train your dog and then taking responsibility isn't a big deal, but if you want a Pitty or a Rotty, maybe the bond/insurance makes sense.
Pamela August 21, 2011 at 06:50 PM
The Town Plaza is an outdoor public space. I see no reason why well-behaved dogs on leashes aren't welcome there with their owners. State law bans dogs from restaurants and places where food is made or served, so I don't know what you're worried about on that front, Tony; as for other stores, its up to the store owner. And I agree those extension leashes can be hazards. As always, its about the PEOPLE with the dogs, not the dogs themselves. The point is that different people consider different things enjoyable in public green spaces -- well trained canine good citizens on leashes should be welcomed there. And as far as so-called "mongrels" are concerned, unless some pure royal blood-line exists in this country, we are ALL of mixed genetic ancestry. Try keeping that in mind before you denigrate a mutt/mixed breed/whatever you want to call it.
Thomas Cole August 30, 2011 at 06:34 PM
As the nation's leading and senior rehabber with over 50 years' experience working with truly dangerous dogs, I have to say that this thread is filled with myths that stagger the mind. It is NOT the dog! It is the human being who threatens society with their need for bloodlust who is the problem here. Pitties in all forms are the most loving dogs you will ever find. What does it take to turn these beautiful, gentle animals into vicious creatures? Dogfighters and gangs are the cause of these problems. Mayor, why aren't you cracking down on them? These thugs and cruds are the cause of the problem. How about using the laws that exist to crack down on these vile human creatures? The last video we released on our Facebook page, Shelter Revolution, is about this very subject: people cause the problems, not the dogs. Mayor, contact the FBI and enlist their aid under RICO statutes to eliminate gangs in your area. Also, there are federal and state laws that give you the power to eliminate dogfighting. It is now a federal felony offense. Do your job and all this BS about pitties goes away. Please join us at www.shelterrevolution.org to work for a better future for our companion animals.
Patrick Bohler August 31, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Thomas, I whole heatedly agree with your comment. I've been working with Pit Bulls for nearly 10 years and have had nothing but the best experiences. Even from dogs who some shelters deemed un-adoptable. What does one expect when an animal is thrust into a somewhat hostile and fearful environment? I will be visiting your website and most likely be joining up with Shelter Revolution. This is the sort of thing I've been trying to tell people for years. It's time is way overdue.
Thomas Cole August 31, 2011 at 01:44 AM
Patrick, we at Shelter Revolution have followed your work for some time. We'd be glad to have you join our effort. I'd also ask every reader to visit our website and read about a new model that puts to shame Sonoma County's weak sheltering effort at SCAS. We call our solution the Adoption Center model. www.shelterrevolution.org.
jonesy September 02, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Please, I don't want any dogs running around me in a plaza! You love your dog, don't expect everyone else to love your dog. They are a pain and the owners want to force everyone to deal with them. NOT. I don't want a dog running around my legs, walking into restaurants or anywhere near my food. Get over yourself with the "my dogs need to be everywhere I go". My colleague brings her dog to work everyday and he's barking at you, jumping up on your clothes, running in and out of the other offices and more. It's a pain in the tush!
Patti Koehne September 03, 2011 at 06:12 PM
I accidently flagged your comment as inappropriate. I was responding to the comment below, but was dissappointed when realized I made a mistake. I have had 3 different Pit Bulls now over the years, and I loved what you said in your comment above. People who make stupid comments, like the dog will attack one unanounced, don't realize that Pitties need daily release of energy and an exercise program. Anyone who is a responsible Pit owner knows this. Its just part of their daily care. These stupid people are ignorant and have never experienced this wonderful breed. They buy into the media, and quite frankly, I am sick of them. The Pit Bull Haulocaust is alive and well, unfortunately. I love my Rosetta Blu to pieces, and she is socialized, goes to doggie day care when I run errands,and I have a huge back yard with a very large kennel in it from the Home Depot. I have all of these safeguards, but yet she spends most of her time in the house with me, and is a big lap dog. When we do go to the dog park, I am vigilant with her, and she is only allowed to play with no more than 2 dogs at a time, so she doesn't get overstimulated in a pack setting. Pit Bull owners that love the breed are trying hard to maintain our incrediable dogs. I used to live in Sonoma Co. and I am not surprised that it wants to join the ranks with Denver, CO.
Sean December 21, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Pit bulls are like guns, only worse since they are wild and fierce. I was almost attacked as I was walking out of Target with my two year old and five year old as an owner took his dog out of his truck to go to the bathroom. I didn't realize it was there as we were walking up to my car through the parking lot and all of a sudden it is stalking us and then jumping. The owner on a cell phone wasn't even paying attention. The dogs may be innocent and the owners incompetent but it will be my child thats mauld. If you want a big tough dog that not a raging psycho get a english mastiff or a great dane.
Heather May 16, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I own 2 pit bulls and i have 3 children and also 2 chihuahuas and my pit bulls protect my children never have had a problem the only problem with pit bulls are the type of people who are interested in them because they look scary! Bad rap videos, and bad media make it worse. If you do your research just as I did before I got a pit you will see they tested 87% in temperment and German shepards for example tested 81%, but police use german shepards. WTF! also pit bills have a high tolerance for pain so it makes them appealing for dog fights. Why don't you google pit bull heros and see what these dogs are capable of.
Psycho dogs January 25, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Anyone who owns a pitbull around children is a child abuser. Look at the defenders of this vicious animal. You have no compassion for people. Typical animal lovers people haters. You disgust me.
Patrick Bohler January 25, 2013 at 10:31 PM
You really show your ignorance, Psycho Dogs. Child Abuser? hmm.. I raised both of my children around multiple Pit Bulls, both are alive and well. I'd like to see how you can prove that's abuse. But coming from a coward who won't even use his/her real name, that doesn't really mean much. What would you know about compassion? My children are far more schooled in that field than you could ever dream of being. Both raised to show said compassion to abused dogs. With people like you in the world, it's no wonder "typical animal lovers" hate people. If anyone is, disgusting, its you. Get over yourself. Get a life.
Gary Robertsin May 05, 2013 at 06:30 AM
I am a pit bull owner now. I've had 5 other breeds of dogs growing up ,and all of them great dogs... I agree with you, there are more people in the U.S.A that are bitten by chihuahuas, more children, molested by priests, and their parents, last year than pit bull attacks in the last 10 years.The statistics dont lie. Yet we smack the chihuahua tell them that they where bad.We make the priest step down from one location, move him to another, still has a job (cause he begs for forgiveness), as priest, and still around little boys. We send the parents to jail for a short tern, council them, mean while the tax payers ( you and me) pay to rehabilitate the priests and parents. So are we gonna ban the catholic church? Put a breed restriction chihuahuas ? Or euthanize a child molesters whole family. I am very sorry to all the families that have suffered an attack of a pit bull, my heart goes out to you. Punish the deed... NOT THE BREED...We all know about the quarterback Micheal Vic, he was raising pit bulls, abusing the ,making them aggressive fighting dogs. The police arrested him gave him a fine ,put him in jail for a short, short time . ,but before they arrested him they killed all the pit bulls ... Now do you see the wrong in that, he trained the dogs,and the police killed the dogs and arrested him . The dogs where the victims .

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