Vallone wants to bite back at pit bulls

By Nathan Duke

Vallone, who first introduced a bill for the ban in 2004, said the dogs are among the most dangerous breeds and that 15 percent of city animal attacks are by pit bulls.”If a cocker spaniel attacks you, you're going to get a cut, but when pit bulls attack, it is very likely to be fatal,” he said. “We are trying to stop people from being mauled and killed.”Vallone said current pit bull owners would be allowed to keep their pets, but the future breeding or sale of pit bulls would be prohibited. He said the state passed a law in the mid-1990s that prohibited any city with more than 1 million people from passing a law that bans specific breeds.Pit bulls have historically been bred for dog fighting or as guard dogs and have garnered a reputation for being violent. Vallone said city residents would have difficulty fending off an attacking pit bull because of the breed's strength and powerful jaws.”Once they attack, they are virtually unstoppable,” he said. “They are bred to be violent, so it may not be their fault. They have a high tolerance for pain and have been known to withstand gunshot wounds.”He said the dogs are also among the most abused and abandoned breed. The legislation, which will be reintroduced early next year, has seen support and opposition among Queens leaders and city dog owner groups.”I'm 6-foot-2 and I get nervous when I see an unleashed pit bull,” said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which sued the Parks Department in April for relaxing its leash laws in city parks without dog runs during specific hours. “Too many people raise them to be aggressive. I think we are playing with fire. I agree maybe we should ban them.”Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) said he would support hearings to discuss safety issues relating to pit bulls, but would not go as far as to support the ban.”I'm concerned about the way some owners breed pit bulls, but (a ban) might be painting with a broad stroke,” he said.Bob Marino, president of Manhattan-based dog owner group NYC DOG, said he supported stricter rules for pit bulls, but not a ban.”Breed specific bans don't work,” he said. “A better plan of attack would be to strengthen the enforcement of licensing and vaccinations. The city should raise the fee for dogs that have not been neutered, which would instantly reduce the problem of stray dogs. “We are certainly sympathetic with the purpose of the ban which is to advocate for responsibility among dog owners.”Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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