- Category: Grant County, WA
- Published on Thursday, 06 October 2011 20:56
- Written by Fred M. Kray
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As I previously reported, the City of Moses Lake has repealed their Pit bull "Regulations."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.
It is interesting to note that the dog involved in the Medina case had attacked one dog, killed another and had bitten a little girl before biting Alex Medina. in incidents before. If animal control had done it's job, the dog would have been in quarantine at the time Alex's bite ocurred. Had they simply properly enforced the dangerous dog laws in place at the time, it would never have happened.
Nevertheless, the discovery provided by Moses Lake in Criscuolo shows that the city went on to "research" the issue. In the end, the basis of the law is revealed in the City's answer to interrogatory #10:
Merritt Clifton Report Cited As Basis for Moses Lake Regulations
Out of all the dog bite reports and information availible in 2008, including the CDC and AVMA, they chose Merritt Clifton's self published unscientific and uncredentialed report? Yes. It is the only report that justifies their position. Merritt Clifton and his report will be the subject of a separate article, but suffice it to say that nobody has any idea what his data is, and none of his statistics are consistent with what independent peer reviewed research shows. And let's not even talk about whether he has any qualifications to do scientific research into dog behavior. He is a news reporter, editor, columnist, and foreign correspondent specializing in animal and habitat related coverage since 1978.
Interestingly, also contained in the files produced in Criscuolo, is a report from NCRC which specifically addresses the fact that Clifton's Report is junk science. How Moses Lake could have the NCRC information to consider and choose the Clifton report as a basis for legislation is a mystery that will never be answered.
Colleen Lynn Lobbies Moses Lake Via Email
Another surprise? Colleen Lynn lobbies Moses Lake regarding their compromise from an outright ban to regulations. First on September 25, 2008, and again on October 8, 2008. For those of you who feel that Lynn is a marginalized figure to be ignored, take note. She is a tireless advocate for BDL, and based on what I have seen, spends every waking minute working on dogsbite.org and lobbying every governmental entity considering dangerous dog laws to enact Breed Specific Legislation. Moses Lake is a case in point. There was nothing in the Moses Lake files that showed there was a counterpoint to the misleading statistics cited by Lynn from anyone on the other side of this issue. Which is not to say it would have changed the minds in Moses Lake. They had already decided.
After deciding to regulate pit bulls, Moses Lake declined to ban them and decided to regulate them as dangerous dogs. They passed an ordinance on November 25, 2008. It took just 70 days from the bite to regulation. This is a typical pattern in BDL. The same thing happened in Miami. Bite, Panic, Legislate.
The take away from this is that it is rare that cooler heads will prevail after a pit bull mauling. It is in a politicians best interest to vote for such a ban. He or she can say that they voted to protect the public safety. The post bite period is of tantamount importance in terms of what happens legislatively. In most cases the emotional sympathy for the bite victim will carry the day, leaving pit bull owners with the much more difficult task of trying to overturn the ban legally, or through the voting process. Thus, pit bull advocates must concentrate on advocacy after the bite and before the vote takes place, and take a page from Colleen Lynn in setting forth the reasons BDL is unfair, legally suspect, expensive to enforce, and does not make the public safer.
Next in the series: How Moses Lake Defines Pit bulls and Pit bull mixes under a completely arbitrary and vague ordinance.
I look forward to reading the whole series.
You give WAY to much credit to CL and her level of intelligence. I actually got the opportunity to spar with her on a call in radio show last year. She couldnt create and maintain an argument to save her life. The suedo brains behind Dogsbite.org is the numbskull Kory Nelson here in Denver... a half wit city employed attorney who has found his nitch to work up his resume.
I also listened to another talk show where CL went toe to toe with a first year HSUS rep. CL STILL had her rear end handed to her. She is emotionally unstable, not all that intelligent, poor at debating any issue, and her profession... a website designer... well lets just say my 9 year old neice did better with a free google site.