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Monday, January 30, 2006

Today...

Mom didn't have as good of a day today, but my sister says that everything is still headed in the right direction.

We went to the Hornets game tonight. The school had a block of tickets so the kids could all go. It was a very exciting game to say the least and the Hornets literally won the game by one point in the last 7 seconds of the game. *whew*

I received a forwarded e-mail about Paul Wesselhoft's bill that he is wanting to get passed concerning a Pit Bull breed ban here in Oklahoma. The new legislative session is to begin here in about a week. I checked the content of the e-mail and found it's source.

Paul Wesselhoft still hasn't responded to me. If you remember I had written him a letter and I had also sent him a copy of my article.

Hmmmpff.

His office could have at least sent me some sort of a 'form letter' or an *automated reply* from his office.

But I didn't receive a thing.

So...

I have posted below today's media release from the House of Representatives.

A breed specific ban will not solve the problem that we have in this state concerning vicious dogs.

Please call Paul Wesselhoft's office or write him a letter (or two).

later...

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Lawmaker Disappointed by Veterinary Association’s Refusal to Support Pit Bull Ban

Contact: State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft
Capitol: (405) 557-7343
Moore: (405) 794-9464

OKLAHOMA CITY (January 30, 2006) – "Shameful! They should walk with their eyes cast downward."

That’s what State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft has to say when describing the American Veterinary Medical Association’s policy on pit bull dogs. The association’s longstanding policy is to not endorse any law that features breed-specific regulations.

And, despite increased awareness of pit bull attacks in recent months, the AVMA has refused to support legislation, authored by Wesselhöft, which would effectively ban pit bull dogs in Oklahoma.

Wesselhöft (R-Moore) says the AVMA’s position puts the association at odds with the safety of Oklahomans who are the most vulnerable to dog attacks, including young children and the elderly.

The association recently decided not to endorse Wesselhöft’s proposal after speaking with the lawmaker, who was disappointed, but not deterred, by the decision.

The AVMA’s decision is just one in a series of events that have brought the pit bull issue into the spotlight. On Wednesday, a two-year-old in Kansas, Okla., was at a neighbor’s house when she was attacked by the neighbor’s pit bull dog. In June, a three-year-old boy in Moore lost his arm after being attacked by a pit bull. And earlier this month, a four-year-old boy in Bartlesville died after he was attacked by a relative’s pit bull.

In response to these and other, similar tragedies, Wesselhöft is preparing to introduce legislation that would place significant regulations on Oklahomans who currently own pit bull dogs. All pit bulls in Oklahoma would have to be spayed or neutered. The measure would also prohibit any more pit bulls from being brought into the state. As a result, the bill would effectively ban the pit bull statewide.

But Wesselhöft does not expect his proposal to easily pass the Legislature when session begins Feb. 7. He says that pit bull breeders across the nation are well organized, well financed and have persuaded certain veterinaries to exert political pressure.

He expects the veterinarian’s association will pressure legislators to vote against his bill, despite the fact that such associations as the Safe Kids Coalition support the ban.

Also, a statewide survey conducted in August 2005 by the polling firm Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates found that a 55 percent majority of Oklahomans favor a pit bull ban, as opposed to a 35 percent minority who don’t.

The AVMA’s policy affirms the protection of the public from dangerous animals "provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds" such as the pit bull.

"The veterinarians’ policy only punishes an owner after a vicious dog attack occurs; it does absolutely nothing to prevent the attack from occurring in the first place," Wesselhöft said. "Shouldn’t a medical association’s policy first be preventative health?

"For over 100 years, pit bull breeders, instead of working to domesticate the pit bull, have, whether intentionally or unintentionally, broken a moral law and returned the animal a wolf-dog state," said Wesselhöft, whose late father-in-law was a veterinarian, as is his brother-in-law.

"It is understandable that veterinarians have a vested interest in satisfying their customers and not alienating the canine community. But to elevate pit bull breeders’ blind bias over the public’s safety and health is a moral travesty and a miscarriage of their professional and medical code."

The lawmaker says he has tried to reason with Dr. Charles Helwig, executive director of the Oklahoma Veterinary Association, and has made himself available to address the association’s executive committee in order to persuade the association to support his pit bull ban. But AVMA’s executive committee decided to continue their traditional policy.

"I am now holding the veterinarians accountable for their decision," Wesselhöft said. "In the future, because they chose not to stand on the side of safety and public health, they may be seen as being partly accountable for vicious attacks on innocent children. I hope citizens will call local veterinarians to convey their disgust."

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