For those who don't live around here, you may not know that Prince Georges County, Maryland, a large county county south of Baltimore and just east of Washington, D.C., has a ban on pit bulls that's been in place since 1996.
Recently, Craig Moe, the mayor of Laurel, Md., a suburban city that's on the border of Prince Georges County and neighboring Howard County (part of the town is in one county, part of it in the other), wrote a letter to Prince Georges County Executive Jack Johnson, urging him to put assemble a task force to examine the possibility of lifiting the ban.
According to this Washington Post article, which was published Aug. 17 (yes, I know, I'm behind), that's not something he's willing to consider. At all. A County Council representative is quoted in the story as saying that even thinking about the bill is a waste of time, considering the more pressing issues that the council has to tackle.
This despite the fact that a task force put in place earlier this decade examined the county's pit bull ban and found it to be "inefficient, costly, difficult to enforce, subjective and questionable in its results."
When report came out in 2003 (you can read it for yourself here), droves of pit bull lovers went before the Prince Georges County Council to testify in favor of lifting it. I remember that I had to work that night and could not go, but I was there in spirit with a lot of my friends who did attend the meeting. I remember thinking that with so many responsible pit bull folks speaking to the council about how important it is to place blame on owners--not a breed of dog--for dog bite problems, coupled with this report that really hammered the inefficiency of the breed ban there was no way the council could fail to examine the issue.
I also remember how disappointed I was when friends of mine, mostly rescue folks who've worked with bully breeds for many years, recounted that meeting and said that the council members could have visibly cared less about what they had to say. They sat in their seats and whispered with one another, checked e-mail on Blackberries, one guy was reading something while constituents and pit bull lovers testified.
Here's the thing that kills me: One of the highlights of the report, from what I could see, is that the time it takes for the county to go through the legal proceedings for dealing with an "illegal" pit bull confiscated from a PG County resident is approximately one year. The report determined that it costs the county roughly $68,000 to maintain that one dog in the shelter while hearings are held and to pay for the legal proceedings surrounding it. $68,000. And according to the report, despite the pit bull ban, at the time the report was put together the county was still taking in roughly 800 pit bulls per year. Even if only 10 of those dogs' owners are put through the full legal hearing, that is around $680,000 spent on maintaining a pit bull ban in that year. Wonder how much of that money could be spent to help alleviate some of the other pressing issues the county faces? You know, like fighting crime, repairing roads, improving schools.
But the council can't be bothered to even listen to people who come to talk to them about reconsidering this monumental waste of time and money.
This is government in action in Prince Georges County, everybody.