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Nevada Legislation Would Offer Protection For Pit Bulls


James Ohrenschall, Nevada Assemblyman

Kory Nelson, Denver City Attorney

Jesica Clemens, In Cred A Bull

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Even the most devoted pit bull fan can’t ignore the stories of maulings – last February, a six-year-old Las Vegas boy almost lost his leg in a pit bull attack.

Is the breed genetically wired for violence? Or do news reports generate a lot of publicity for a few bad seeds?

A Nevada Assemblyman thinks the good dogs shouldn’t be punished with the bad. AB 110 would make “breed-specific” bans – laws that would regulate ownership of certain dogs with a reputation for showing aggression, specifically pit bulls – illegal in Nevada.

“It’s based on the premise that if you see a problem dog, you need to look at the other end of the leash,” says Assemblyman James Ohrenschall.

Not only does Ohrenschall think that vicious dogs are the result of nurture, not nature, he thinks breed-specific laws have proven ineffective in stopping attacks. “People go underground, they still keep those dogs,” says Ohrenschall. “Or they switch to a dog that’s not banned and they try to make that a fighting dog.”

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Kory Nelson disagrees. That’s “just wrong” says Nelson a Denver city attorney. Denver has had a pit bull ban in place since 1989.

“Denver hasn’t had any fatal attacks since the ban has been enforced, hasn’t had any serious maulings since the ban has been enforced,” says Nelson.

Nelson says that the issue with pit bulls isn’t that they are necessarily more likely to attack, but that when they do attack they’re more likely to cause serious bodily injury or even death.

“They were bred for one purpose and one purpose only,” says Nelson. “To attack larger animals, shake and tear and rip their victims until they bleed to death.”

But pit bull activist Jesica Clemens says studies have shown that pit bulls are no more aggressive than any other breed. She cites a study by German animal behaviorist Esther Schalke, who tested 70 golden retrievers along with 415 dogs with a reputation for showing aggression, including pit bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans.

“What she found was there is no difference in the way dogs of different breeds respond with aggression – they signal the same, and there is no propensity for aggression based on certain breeds,” says Clemens.

Clemens says banning breed-specific legislation won’t necessarily change the perception of pit bulls.

“As an owner of a pit bull dog I am regularly discriminated against,” says Clemens. “I’m not asking for protection from that, but I am asking for protection from breed-specific legislation.”





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KNPR's State of Nevada