The same week President Obama added a new dog to his family, he's also come out against breed-specific legislation that forbids ownership of certain types of dogs. The White House responded to a "We the People" petition calling for the ban of all breed-specific legislation and claimed laws like Miami-Dade County's pit bull ban are "largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources."
In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at twenty years of data about dog bites and human fatalities in the United States. They found that fatal attacks represent a very small proportion of dog bite injuries to people and that it's virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds.
The CDC also noted that the types of people who look to exploit dogs aren't deterred by breed regulations -- when their communities establish a ban, these people just seek out new, unregulated breeds. And the simple fact is that dogs of any breed can become dangerous when they're intentionally or unintentionally raised to be aggressive.
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Though the statement stops short of calling for a federal law that would ban such breed-specific legislation, opponents of such laws hope the White House's comment will bring new attention and credibility to their cause.
"The White House is such a bully pulpit for important issues," Lisa LaFontaine, president of the Washington Humane Society (which recently received a donation from the Obamas) told the Huffington Post. "And certainly for them to come down against this type of discrimination, I think, will give pause to any communities that are thinking about putting something like this in place, and certainly will fuel the work that's already being done by advocates to overturn legislation that already exists."
Miami-Dade County has forbid the ownership of pit bulls since 1989, and the ban is one of the oldest existing examples in a large metro area. The law has been challenged in courts and more recently brought before voters, but last year local voters overwhelmingly voted to keep the ban in place.