Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 5pm

Grant County, WA

Pit Bull Visual Identification In Grant County, Washington

Who Is That Man Who Classified My Dog as a Pit Bull?
And What Are His Qualifications?
Part I of a Series

Science Shows Unreliability of Visual ID

BSL advocates continue to say that visual identification of Pit Bulls is accurate and reliable. This completely ignores the science of canine genetics and the study done by Victoria Voith.  In Voith's study, shelter dogs were given DNA tests, and shelter workers were then asked to assign a breed to each dog.  They were right only 25% of the time-much less than chance.

Real World Application of Pit Bull Identification
It's A Pit Bull If I Say So

How does Pit Bull Identification play out in real life?  There is no training for such a job.  The Animal Control Association does not offer a course in it.  I could not find any entity that teaches in a formal, scientific way how to properly identify a Pit Bull. Let's take a look at the deposition of the animal control officer in charge of Pit Bull identification in Grant County, Washington, to see how its done and the qualifications and experience of the person doing it.

Grant County Washington Experience 

Dymond - The "Pit Bull"

Read more: Pit Bull Visual Identification In Grant County, Washington

Moses Lake, WA Pit Bull Regulations Based On Merritt Clifton Report

Merritt Clifton Report Cited as Basis For City of Moses Lake Pit Bull "Regulations"
Colleen Lynn Lobbies City Via Email


Part I of a Series
Criscuolo v. City of Moses Lake Causes Repeal 

The Basis of the Moses Lake Pit Bull "Regulations"

As I previously reported, the City of Moses Lake has repealed their Pit bull "Regulations."  I say regulations, because Moses Lake did not have an outright "ban" but a system in which Pit bulls and Pit bulls mixes were automatically declared dangerous and required to meet dangerous dog standards; muzzling, insurance, etc. A copy of the unsigned Order of Repeal can be seen here. Before we get into the legal proceedings, it is important to understand why the Ban was enacted, and the government's basis for it. The answers to those questions can be gleaned from newspaper reports and discovery produced by Moses Lake in the Criscuolo case.

The Alex Medina dog bite September 15, 2008
(Bite, Panic, Legislate) 

The catalyst for the inquiry by Moses Lake into a "Pit Bull problem" began in September of 2008, after a pit bull attacked and injured six year old Alex Medina. The case was featured on dogsbite.org. As a result, a committe was created to look into regulating pit bulls.  A detailed report on what transpired at the public meeting surrounding the ban can be read here. Note that not even the statistics of Moses Lake showed a problem with pit bull bites. Their own report showed that between 2005-2008 there were 24 dogs bites, four of which were caused by pit bulls. Nor was there a clear consensus shown by the public in favor of a pit bull ban or regulation.

Read more: Moses Lake, WA Pit Bull Regulations Based On Merritt Clifton Report

Grant County, WA

Breed Specific Legislation Challenge Filed in Grant County, WA

A complaint was filed in Grant County, Washington, challenging Breed Specific Legislation there. The complaint, filed on behalf of Nicholas Criscuolo, can be read in its entirety here. Newspaper coverage can be read here. Filed by animal law attorney, Adam Karp, the complaint alleges violations of § 1983 based on the fact that the ownership of an animal is a fundamental right protected under the state and federal constitution.

The complaint centers on an incident that ocurred on January 24, 2010, at which time Criscuolo owned two dogs, Slyder and Dymond, which he let run off leash at Neppel Park. The complaint alleges that at the same time nearby, there was a traffic stop in which a drug sniffing dog named Maddox was involved. Criscuolo saw the police dog, and yelled to the police officers to keep the dog in their vehicle until he could leash his dogs. He got Dymond leashed, but Slyder ran toward Maddox in greeting. Maddox was an unneutered male and overreacted to the greeting. Slyder ran back to his owner but the officer blocked Slyder's return, eventually shooting Slyder three times resulting in his death. There was no evidence of injury to Maddox and third party witnesses agreed that Slyder presented no threat when shot.

Apparently, the city declared Dymond hazardous because the chief of police deemed her part pit bull. There is no definition or policy that defines how such a determination is made and what constitutes "part pit bull." There is no opportunity given to the owner to challenge the determination, a denial of due process. There are also individual claims made on the basis of the shooting of Slyder.

It is a beautifully detailed complaint, and we will be following this case as Grant County defends. It does seem a denial of due process, however, to have no definition of pit bull and no opportunity to challenge what appears to be a totally discretionary and subjective decision.

Kudos to Adam Karp and good luck!