The False Rally Cry

May 17, 2012  

By Laura Petrolino, VP of Operations

This last weekend, right near where I live, a 19-year-old driver went flying down a neighborhood street at holy hell speed, flew right across a major road, Bayshore (which as its name suggests follows the bay along for several miles connecting the city of Tampa to some of its closest suburbs) and through the rock guardrail that separates the road from the water, and went into the bay.

Obviously this caused quite the stir. We had a big hole in our guardrail for several days, stories of the event spread like wildfire, and news teams swarmed to the site of the accident anxious to talk to any neighbor that wanted to share their completely random and subjective opinion about the incident and what should happen as a result.

Before I go on, I want to briefly and clearly layout where the fault lies for this accident:

1) The driver
2) …….
3) …….

Yep, it is pretty obvious that it is just the driver at fault here (possibly alcohol, but … that’s another story) – a driver who was obviously driving carelessly, too fast and with very little thought about the safety of himself and/or those around him.

So that being said, let’s go back to the rally cry from the passersby who were interviewed by the local news channels (or at least those who made the air/print). Did this rally cry have to do with individual responsibility? No, of course not: It centered on one issue … the need to lower the speed limit on Bayshore!

Now, to repeat the above story, this driver wasn’t even driving on Bayshore; he was barreling down a cross street and crossed Bayshore in his swift exit into the bay. And, at the risk of making judgmental assumptions here, I feel pretty sure that the driver in question could care less about what the speed limit was.

No, a quick review of this situation clearly shows that the speed limit on Bayshore really had absolutely nothing to do with this issue; however that was the easiest solution. That was the easiest “quick fix” to give these neighbors some security that something like this wouldn’t happen again. It really didn’t matter that the fix had nothing to do with the problem – all that mattered was the mental peace (although completely false) it gave them. Problem solved! File it away and move on to other things.

As I was listening to all this go down, it dawned on me how this was a perfect example of both the appeal and the problem with breed-discriminatory laws. When a dog attack or bite happens, BDL is unfortunately often a siren call to communities and legislators because these laws provide the illusion of a “fix” to a problem. The danger is that by putting a false fix on something in order to be able to file it away, you shortchange the community from being able to actually deal with the real problem. In the case of a dog attack, owner responsibility and education.

When something threatens us it is a natural emotion to try to find what appears to be the quickest route to regaining control of our safety. Unfortunately, when doing so you almost always leave yourself dangerously unprotected from the real danger … the one that can’t be fixed overnight, the one that will continue to put you, your family and your community at risk.

This is the biggest problem with breed-discrimination laws and the one that when fully understood resonates with everyone, whether they care about dogs or not.

(photos by Melissa Lipani)

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12 Responses to “The False Rally Cry”
  1. Laura you are hilarious did you say “his swift exit into the bay?” lol As sad, funny and tragic this particular case it is, you bring out a very important point.  While at the Pit Bull Rally in Annapolis Tuesday a reporter asked a good question.  He asked me was I shocked that those who’ve never interacted with a pit bull  or pit bull mix dog before supported the ruling (paraphrasing)? My response was “no, it’s upsetting but we live in a sensationalized society, whatever shocks people on the bandwagon they go, whether true or false.” This story holds true to that.

  2. blazer says:

    Great example — there are SO many parallels between these situations! 
    I was afraid you were going to say that the pit bull topic was somehow brought into this completely unrelated news story…haha!  And phew!

  3. ChelseaNordick says:

    You are so right.  I have been noticing this trend a lot lately– people need something to blame, so it can be the evil bad thing that they can just push to one side, so that nothing bad ever happens again.  Unfortunately with pits, it seems like nobody wants to blame the person who owns the dog… I just don’t understand why.  I live in Sweden now, and they have a ban on aggressive dogs– so the owner of any aggressive dog has to take precautions, and if their dog hurts someone they will be punished for it.  I really think that is a much more logical, thoughtful way.  I wish more people thought the way you do!  Thanks for the great article 🙂

  4. dragondix2 says:

    Sad but true.

  5. RichDee says:

    Exactly! …  as a long time firearm enthusiast and target shooter (along with being a pit bull lover) I have long seen the same “logic” used in anti-gun legislation to no avail. They should be going after and prosecuting the irresponsible “humans” not the breed.

  6. Luvs Bostons says:

    I agree.  Just talked to my UPS guy, who has among others, two rescued pit mixes, youngsters from a broken up dog fighting operation. He was delivering to a business when the owners pit ran from the dock and bit him on the ankle.  The owner immediately said “it’s your dolly that caused him to bite you!” to which the UPS guy replied, no, it is your fault, for having an untrained DOG loose on your loading dock!!!! I love our UPS driver!

  7. dragondix2 says:

    Minnesota has doesn’t allow BDL-at the moment. We have a state representative that’s tried on occasion to change that, fortunately unsuccessfully.

  8. dragondix2 says:

    Minnesota doesn’t allow BDL at the moment. Occasional talk has fortunately gone nowhere, but we remain vigilant.

  9. MattSlawson says:

    Where I live, by numbers alone, the biggest offenders (figuratively speaking) don’t get past mid-calf on an average person. LOL