Educating not Discriminating
Dog Legislation Education (DLE) is for anyone on either side of the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) fence. I wanted to provide a place where you can ask questions that otherwise might spark debate. This is not meant to be a place to argue the issues, but to help people understand why dogs bite, who's really responsible, and what types of legislation have proven successful in protecting the public and punishing human offenders. Anyone commenting on the blog will be removed from the group for being insensitive. My main focus will be for citizens of Springfield, Mo as the Animal Issues Task Force (AITF) has proposed new legislation, policies, programs to City Council. Because these proposals could help improve the safety of citizens anywhere, the blog is open to anyone.
The Root of Fear is Ignorance.
The one thing I have learned over the years, is that most people who have a problem with a specific breed of dog either had one bad experience or heard bad stuff on the news. Humans are allowed to be afraid...I'm afraid of spiders, hopefully no one faults me for that! What I hope to accomplish with this blog is to help Pit Bull and other Power Breed owners to understand that some people don't know any better than to be afraid. As dog owners we have to take our time and show the public that no one breed stands alone with behavioral issues. I hope to not only educate people who don't know the blessings our dogs bring, but also help educate people who may not know what is appropriate behavior for them and their dog. Though I don't believe Breed Specific Legislation is effective in educating the public, I do believe Potentially Dangerous Dog, Dangerous Dog, and Irresponsible Owner Legislation can not only educate, but improve public safety as well.
Please enjoy the blog, sign up for email updates, keep your filters on when commenting, and hopefully learn something new today.
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Springfield Mo 2017

My name is Carrie Galvan.  I am a Certified Behavior Consultant in Springfield, Mo.  I moved here when I was two, went to public school, and bought a house in the neighborhood I grew up in at the age of 20.  I am a single mother of three children ranging from 9 to 16 years.  About 6 years ago I was a stay-at -home mom watching my children growing to be more independent, learning to be productive citizens, and costing quite a bit more money. I decided that instead of getting a full-time job with set hours, keeping me from enjoying school activities with them, that I was going to take a leap of faith and start a small business from the years of skills I had acquired.  I have an amazing support system that I could not have been successful without.  They were key in helping me get to where I am today, doing my "dream job" and enjoying time with my children.

I started training dogs in my childhood, started working with rescues in my twenties, and became a professional in my 30's.  I have been interested in animal behavior since I can remember.  It is something I have always been passionate about, am not sure I could ever learn all I want about it.

 My current concern is for the city I grew up in.  I have seen my childhood neighborhood go from a few houses with a giant field and small forest, to a large neighborhood with one of the largest churches in town. I have seen our highways go from one lane each way (which makes me laugh now) to three lanes both ways and having huge fly-over passes.  Dogs were even free to roam for the day while we were gone and always greeted us at the door when we got home.  Obviously, these things have changed because we need to change with the times.  To help aide in the growth of the city we have slowly imposed more laws, ordinances, and rules on the citizens of Springfield...yet we are on the top ten list of most dangerous cities in the United States???  This just makes me wonder if our government is really focused on the right issues.  I am not a politician, so I may not understand all of the ins-and-outs of how government works, but I was able to get an up close view when I was asked to be on this "great new committee" that was going to help the welfare of our animals in Springfield.

This was the birth of the Animal Issues Task Force. I was on this task force from day one until the day the Mayor determined it was no longer needed. Three years we all met. We discussed with, learned from, listened to, visited, and researched about some of the Greats in our great nation!  I was so eager to meet each month and find out what everyone had learned, and share what knowledge I had.  There were so many respectable people in that room; Veterinarians, Biologists, Professors, Animal Behavior Professionals, lawyers, retired City Council Members, Rescue heads, concerned citizens, and many more throughout the years.  One of the many items we discussed was education for our citizens, which in my opinion, was stonewalled by certain officials every time it came up. Not wanting to be discouraged, we just kept on trucking on other issues, such as how to help with the amount of dogs our Animal Control was having to house with EXTREMELY, limited resources.  Our Animal Control did not and still does not have the manpower or funds it needs to keep our city as safe as possible from dangerous animals of all kinds.

There were so many good ideas and we were able to come up with many solutions such as discussing partnering with SAFEHOUSE and other animal advocacy groups, and writing a huge piece of legislation to help with the nuisance animals, dangerous and/or vicious dogs, and reckless owners. When it was decided that our dangerous dog ordinance was extremely outdated, I shared with the task force, documents from the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).  These documents were a recommended plan put together by the world's top Animal Behaviorists, Veterinary Behaviorists, Veterinarians, and K9 Trainers. The hope was to help cities to keep their citizens safer from dogs that are not considered safe for the general public, to help educate people that may not know any better, and to punish repeat offenders to the extent of not being able to own an animal for a period of time.  It was amazing!

We even had Jim Crosby (legal consultant, K9 behavior consultant and trainer, and retired officer that specializes in investigations of dog bites and dog bite fatalities) come and do a weekend seminar for dog professionals and law enforcement.  I learned so much from him and it just increased my intrigue about animal behavior.  I was shocked to see that the city had sent ONE person to the seminar. Really? Only one person?  Other cities sent officers, and there were council members there, but none from Springfield?  Isn't this why we had Jim here?

All of that wealth of information, and now the City is thinking of banning Pit Bulls?  It has been proven time and time again that the best approach to dog bites in a city is best dealt by clear legislation and education...not by banning a breed. Denver enacted their ban 20 years ago and STILL spends $1,000,000 on enforcing it. Calgary enacted clear legislation, licensure, and education 20 years ago and only had 2 bites in 2016?  I think the current City Council missed a lot of this information that was collected about Breed Specific Legislation.  I am positive they have not been given all of the information.  I certainly hope they will use resources, from every avenue, that have been presented to them before making a decision that will effect so many of their citizens.

"I realize there are many more important issues before our city, but why weren't we using the resources the Animal Issues Task Force was presenting to the City?  Call me naive, because lord knows I can be, but didn't they form the Animal Issues Task Force to help? We were knowledgeable volunteers, just like on any other task force...weren't we? Clear legislation and education...that's what we need".-Carrie Galvan CBCC-KA

"Legislation cannot be proactive. It can only be reactive. You can't charge a man for having a mask. He has to rob the bank first".-Jim Crosby

"B.F Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that and animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior.  Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans".- Dale Carnage

Carrie Galvan CBCC-KA
Precious K9s

Monday, January 16, 2017

A letter to City Council

This is the last email I sent the Springfield MO City Council. Had I chose to speak on the 9th, this is what I would have said...

City Council Members,

After being at the City Council meeting on the 9th I feel that you guys have heard a lot of important statistics, public opinion, and other helpful information. I would like to present some information from a perspective I am not sure you have had. I have had the privilege to speak to some of you individually, and some of you have some social acquaintances in common with me as well, so I know you have all been asking questions and trying to make the most informed decision possible.

As I emailed you last week, I have had 20 years experience in the animal world, specializing in dogs. One of the most important things I have done over the years is go into people's homes and help them with training and behavioral issues. You would be shocked to find out how many managed potentially dangerous dogs there are in our city. I have no doubt the breeds would shock you equally. I also personally estimate the actual amount of “possible” Pit Mixes in our city, compared to the 3-600 registered, is upwards of  ten times higher.

Starting about 2 years after the BSL was put into place here in Springfield, I began to get phone calls from citizens about their unsocialized Pit Bull mixes. I had my professional and personal opinion about BSL at that point, but when I got a huge influx of these calls I realized how many responsible people, who had their dogs registered with the city were still scared to take their dogs out in public for fear of being stopped by police or turned into Animal Control by people who thought they may be breaking the ordinances.

One of the things I found to be prominent was not just the amount of anxiety in the humans, but the huge amount of anxiety in the dogs. There was this huge lack of social cues (ways that a dog speaks). After doing many lessons that mirrored each other I really started to get frustrated with the BSL. Most of these people weren't giving their dogs the amount of physical and mental stimulation that dogs need to be safe members of society. They were scared to walk them, or the anxiety was so bad in the dog you couldn't walk them because the muzzle was a traumatic thing for them. Not to mention that we impede dogs facial cues by covering them with a muzzle. Most people had no clue there was even a desensitization process that helps a dog get used to the muzzle. That being said, not every dog can be acclimated to the muzzle due to anxieties having to do with restraint. These dogs would go through as much training and behavior modification as the owner could afford, but the damage had been done. You can’t fix a dog that was a puppy when the ordinance was passed. These puppies missed important developmental periods that you most likely cannot get back. They didn’t learn to relax in new places, or see many breeds of dogs, and children, and even men with beards. These things can be extremely scary if they just appear into an unsocialized adult’s life. That being said... what do dogs do when they are scared and haven’t been taught to handle normal life situations? They try to get away...or they try to protect themselves. Fight or Flight is a universal animal instinct. Yes, some dogs are just wired wrong, but a huge majority of these behavioral issues could have been avoided if we could have socialized them properly when they were young.

The other angle I have that no one in this area has is that I own a non-breed discriminatory daycare and boarding facility. There are many places that won’t take Pit Bull mixes due to big box store regulations and lack of kennel tech training. That is not so at my place. We allow all dogs to play with appropriate playmates. Some dogs have soft play styles, some love to run, some love to get down and do some WWE wrestling, some would prefer to hang out and be dainty, some think all other dogs are a waste of oxygen, and others want to play in varying sizes of playgroups. What breeds go in each of these groups? Any...Even the Pits, German Shepherds, Rotweillers, Great Danes, and Mastiffs can play in each of the groups.

I am informing you, as a professional who owns a business that handles hundreds of dogs a week, the breed doesn’t matter, yet the temperament does. Are there breed tendencies? Yes. Can every dog of every breed be lumped into the category of having the tendencies of their breed? Absolutely not.

I would urge you to also ask questions about the dog bite seminar we had here in Springfield years ago. Jim Crosby, the world’s leading Dog Bite Death Investigator, has some very informative insight that focuses on the bite styles and damage capability of each dog. Some important takeaways from his seminar were:
  • Any dog can bite
  • The bigger the head the stronger, and higher potential for damage
  • The gameness of the dog can determine the amount of damage
  • The placement of the bite on a body can determine the amount of damage
  • There is ALWAYS a human component involved in why the situation happened
  • Unfortunately accidents happen
  • It is the way a dog is raised and taken care of that can determine temperament
  • Genetically some dogs are wired wrong, just like people (this is not breed specific)

I am sure that if you would like to have a conversation with Jim, he would love to answer any questions you may have. Just let me know if you would like his contact information.

I would also urge you to investigate the time, money, and manpower expended on unnecessary calls about “Pit Bull’s” by Animal Control and other city departments. I think you will find that city dollars could be saved by using the Dangerous, Vicious, Reckless Owner legislation that was passed and is working. I am not aware of one city that has reinstated the BSL after trying the DVR legislation and repealing the BSL. It is cost effective and saves time taken for the “little unnecessary things”.

Our reactionary response years ago may seem to have or have not worked, depending on the way you view the statistics. We all know statistics are not full proof when all of the variables are not controlled, but we have to look at what is full proof. We shocked and awed the city years ago when we implemented the BSL. This caused a HUGE increase in public awareness and education. This is a positive thing and we can continue to build on it by using legislation that has already proven itself more productive!

The last subject I would like to touch on is the liability to the City. I know one of the burning questions for the City officials is...What happens if we repeal and a Pit Bull bites someone? Will that look bad on us and make us liable? Ultimately the liability is a question for the city’s law department. I do believe you will find that only a small group of people, uneducated on the ins and outs of dog etiquette etc, that would like to lay blame on you. If someone gets bit by any breed, and they inevitably will, you stand strong behind the new legislation that was passed by you guys, and you will find that it will show you have a more effective plan in place. You most certainly cannot please everyone, but you can stand united and strong knowing that the legislation is focusing on the people and dogs that are the problem. This legislation can further educate, and if need be, punish these people appropriately. This will also give you the ammunition to use irresponsible people as an example. Even Kevin Gibson said, at the meeting on the 9th, that the BSL did nothing for the people that are the problem. It only gave the city a log of people that loved their dog and respected authority. The rest were acquired on a call-by-call basis, and had to be enforced.

Dogs bite. That is how they are wired...They’re teeth are like our hands… How would you protect yourself if you were raised in a 1000 square foot box with no socialization and something scared you? Would you hide? Would you swing your arms? Would you push the scary thing away? Just food for thought…

I really urge you to take advantage of my unique perspective and call me. I am a educated wealth of information, that can help guide you to a more educated decision.
                   Carrie Galvan CPDT
                    Precious K9s
                    Springfield, Mo