The responsible data ownership ordinance

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

I was going to write a post on the lack of information regarding the “Responsible Pit Bull Ownership Ordinance,” but over on Nicole’s blog, she’s already done it.

We don’t know how many dog bites in Worcester were caused by dogs off their leashes (because this is, of course, under the original ordinance). We don’t know how many dog bites were caused by dogs on their owner’s property (which wouldn’t be affected by either ordinance). We don’t know how many dog bites were caused by unneutered/intact male dogs.

In today’s T&G article (linked in the post below) they report that between September 30, 2008 and September 30, 2009 “there were 55 complaints of attack or fear of attack by dogs, 29 of them involving a pit bull and 26 by an unknown breed.” But at a September 7, 2010 city council meeting, the police department said between July 1, 2009 and July 23, 2010 that number rose to 122 “confirmed dog bites,” 56 caused by pit bulls.

That means the number of dog bites more than doubled while the number of bites/reports of people afraid of being bit by a pit bull didn’t quite increase at the same rate.

Nicole makes the point that there’s not a whole lot of information given here. No one’s disputing that pit bulls aren’t the breed behind a large number of attacks/fear of attacks, but there’s a difference between leashed pit bulls and unleashed pit bulls and neutered pit bulls and un-neutered pit bulls.

There’s also the issue that the figures provided by the city come from two different measurements. In one year the police combined attacks with “fear of attacks” while the next year they only provide “confirmed bites.” If you separate the “fear of attack”s from the actual attacks between ’08 and ’09, then, if anything, you could assume that actual “dog bites” have increased at an even higher percentage than the numbers reveal.

Let’s hope that the extra revenue generated from the increased fees of licensing a pit bull will go toward improved statistics and record keeping.

There’s also the question of how far-reaching this ordinance will go, in terms of curbing dog attacks. According to the city’s own data, dog bites have more than doubled from 2008 to 2010, but the number of attacks by non-pit bulls have made up an increasingly higher percentage of these bites/fear of bites. Maybe an ordinance that addresses this could be created. Then you could roll the “responsible pit bull ownership ordinance” into that and we’d have some kind of all-encompassing “responsible dog ownership ordinance.”

But don’t listen to me, I’m jacked up on sugar. I’m trying to lose weight so I cut soda out of my diet, but I’ve been wolfing down Twinkies all day. No flaws in that strategy, right?


1 Comment

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One response to “The responsible data ownership ordinance

  1. Joe Scully

    What will be the impact of this ordinance on “businesses” like this?

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