It is Time, Elgin

Elgin has battled a pit bull problem for over a decade.  And for a decade, residents of Elgin have pushed for pit bull regulation.  Once again, Elgin leadership has failed to do its job protecting the safety, well-being, and quality of life of Elgin residents.
It's Time
...In 2004, things were just absolutely out of control.  It was every other week or every week we're having some sort of pit bull attack.  And people were going to the hospital.  We had 29 people sent to the hospital for pit bull attacks.  And in the fall of 2004 we enacted a ban and immediately thereafter we saw a lot of success with that.
You gotta convince the City Council or your county government, your board of supervisors, to do what's in the best interest of the community.  It will be a very vocal minority of people that will scream and shout and raise all kinds of heck about it.  And you'll hear about it from all over the country even.  But you still gotta do what's right for your community.  And if its protecting kids and adults and innocent victims, again, that's the role of government.
Mike Danahey recently revealed the enormity of Elgin's dangerous dog problem in a Courier-News article.  Danahey was prompted to look into the problem after Elgin made national news when a pit mix and a presa canario attacked and trapped firefighters inside their fire station. The dangerous dogs were throwing themselves against the glass doors of the firehouse to get to the firefighters forcing police to once again shoot dogs.

Danahy reported that Elgin had recorded an astounding 9,901 dog complaint calls between January, 2008 and June 2012. In the last two years, between June 2010 to June 2012, Elgin adjudicated 997 dog-related tickets.

Danahy compared Elgin's dog-related tickets and dog shootings with two other nearby towns.
Island Park, Aurora, Illinois
One of the comparable cities, Aurora, is in many ways very similar to Elgin.  Both cities were prosperous turn of the 20th century manufacturing towns.  Both went into decline during the second half of the 20th century.  Both began revitalizing their downtown areas at the turn of the 21st century.  Both have experienced massive population growth in the 21st century, their racial makeup is roughly the same and per capita income is nearly equal to each other and just below the Illinois average.  However, Aurora is the second largest city in Illinois with a population that is 30% larger than Elgin's.

Beautiful Festival Park, Elgin, Illinois where a 9 year old boy was attacked by two pit bulls on May 28, 2010
In the two year period between June 2010, and June 2012, Elgin adjudicated 218 tickets for dog bites/dangerous behavior and the lion's share of these attacks were pit bull attacks according to Danahy.  In a similar 2 year period between January 2010, and December 2011, Aurora issued only 77 tickets for dog bites/attacks.

Since 2008, Elgin police were forced to shoot 23 dogs, 20 of which were pit bulls.  In the same time span 8 dogs were shot by Aurora police, 5, possibly 6, of those dogs were pit bulls.  Elgin, with a 30% smaller population, wrote 65% more dog bite/aggression tickets and shot 65% more dogs.

Elgin had a full blown pit bull problem back in 2002, a full decade ago. Residents were alarmed back then by the viciousness of attacks, and wanted pit bulls banned.
From the Daily Herald, 2002:
There's too many dogs that are always running loose without a leash, and my daughter walks outside and gets attacked for no reason," said Simental, who lives on the city's east side. "If you saw that dog going after her throat, you wouldn't want your kids playing outside anymore either." Such violent assaults by pit bulls and other dogs, which started occurring in Elgin's neighborhoods about two years ago, remain common despite ongoing efforts by police to stop them. In fact, such violent incidents appear to be on the rise locally, increasing with the popularity of illegal dog fighting. The city's animal control officer and police have tried to crack down on the owners of dangerous dogs by issuing tickets and fines. They have even arrested a few people they believed were training pit bulls and other dogs to fight. Still, little has proven effective. Authorities say they are now taking a second look at their approach because they've had such a difficult time curbing the problem. And for some, it couldn't happen soon enough. "Personally, I think they need to ban those kind of dogs," Elgin resident Evaughn Thornton said shortly after her puppy, Patches, was killed by a pit bull on the city's east side last month.
The combination of Elgin area dogfighters providing the city with weapons grade pit bulls for over a decade and  Elgin pit bull owners having been consistently unable or unwilling to sterilize and contain their pit bulls has created a pit bull problem of insane proportions.

Beside the nearly 10,000 dog related complaints, firefighters being held hostage by grippers, cops shooting dozens of pit bulls, there's also the the officer who was shot while trying to subdue a charging pit bull, the mayor that was attacked by pit bulls and assaulted by their owner days after backing down from supporting BSL, and the raid that caused 21 vicious pit bulls to berserk, attacking police and each other, which forced police to shoot six of them.

This is the situation today despite concerned Elgin citizens and pit bull mauling survivors pushing for bans for a solid decade. Pat DeMoss addressed the board in no uncertain terms:
"If you stick your head in the sand on this, it is going to come back to bite you, and I don't mean that as a pun," she told council members.
The councilmen did listen to DeMoss and their many other constituents, and they passed pit bull regulation in a preliminary vote in February, 2010:
"Something needs to be done," said Councilman John Prigge, who was joined by fellow council members Robert Gilliam, Mike Warren, and Mayor Ed Schock. "This is the best plan for Elgin and its safety. It treats the cause and effect. It targets the owner and punishes them for bad behavior."
Though it seemed Elgin was on its way to protecting their citizens and improving the quality of life in their city in February 2010, just one month later the ordinance was voted down in the final vote.  What happened?

Someone contacted Best Friend Animal Society in Utah.

You can read what happened after that in a pamphlet describing step-by-step how Best Friends Animal Society will meddle from afar in the business of any city, town, or burg that tries to address the safety issues facing them head on.  Ledy VanKavage updated her pamphlet after March 2010 and it now features the city of Elgin as an example of a great success.

Even though people are being attacked, pets are being mauled and killed and pit bulls are being shot at fantastic rates in Elgin, BFAS has the gall to put the spotlight on Elgin as a shining success.

VanKavage's little pamphlet pays lip service to the idea that non-breed specific ordinances improve safety and well-being of people, pets and pit bulls.  But given that Elgin is highlighted as the epitome of success, it is clear that lip service is all it is.  The only criterion by which Elgin can be judged as success is "we stopped BSL." By public safety, humane and economic criteria Elgin has a pit bull crisis on its hands.  It is "hit, git, and split" where BFAS is concerned.  They don't have to live in the mess they perpetuated, after all.
One of the two pit bulls that attacked a 9 year old boy and were shot at Festival Park in May 2010
The details about what happened in Elgin are in VanKavage's pamphlet, but here are some highlights:
  • Intimidate city leaders with an email from a lawyer promising lawsuits if they move ahead with BSL.
  • Intimidate by putting out a call for pit bull lovin' out-of-towners from all over the country to bombard the city council and mayor's office with "polite" emails and phone calls.
  • Intimidate by paying for newspaper ads and flyers that enjoin people to contact the mayor and council members.  The ads feature the BFAS logo and the city leaders' street addresses.  Obviously, publishing street addresses is not for the pit bull advocates' benefit because they use emails and phone calls to contact the city.  No, the logo and the street addresses are saying you are not just up against your local pit bull owners.  BFAS knows exactly where you live.
  • Encourage the spread of misinformation.
Ad put in paper to bully Elgin city council.  Why publish home addresses
 right above the BFAS logo if you are asking people to make phone calls?
The centerpiece of VanKavage's misinformation campaign is the BSL calculator that she bought from a guy whose URL is "GuerrillaEconomics."  He is a statistician for hire; tell him what argument you want to make, and he'll make it with numbers.  VanKavage wants to show that BSL is expensive, and he has done just that for her.  For his other clients, Guerrilla Economics' John Dunham provides a "methodology and documentation" report to explain where he's getting his numbers, what assumptions he making, how he defines terms and how he arrives at his final numbers. (see Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries Economic Impact Calculator on his clients page and follow links).  Any supposed calculator is worthless without this methodology and documentation report.  It explains what the numbers mean; it is Dunham "showing his work" just like everybody had to do in math class.  And just like a math teacher gives no credit if you don't show your work, his calculators are garbage without these reports.

VanKavage's BSL calculator doesn't come with a methodology and documentation report.  Instead, VanKavage and Dunham, put together a piece called Fiscal bite & Breed Discrimination: Utilizing Scientific Advances & Economic Tools in Lobbying which only provides very vague jargon to explain how they arrived at their numbers. They created a "model (that) correlates a wide range of demographic and geographic variables" and "estimated the coefficients across a wide range of available data".  Anytime jargon like this is used, if a whole lot of specifics don't immediately follow, one should suspect the writer is not just bad, he's blowing smoke.  The specifics are not there.

Since we don't know how he arrived at his calculations, we don't even know what those numbers mean, and we can't argue whether they're right or wrong.*  The only category of expense that can be assessed is the cost for DNA testing.   Even without knowing what his numbers mean, contrary to whatever the BSL calculator shows, the cost to any city for DNA testing will be zero for two reasons.

First, courts have upheld the constitutionality of BSL and of using visual identification to implement it.  Second, no DNA test that identifies pit bulls exists.  The Mars test that Ledy Vankavage and friends have used for all their "proof" that no one can identify a pit bull cannot be used to identify a pit bull.  In their FAQ section, the Mars company tells us that the test will give back false positive results on pit bulls. In fact, the Mars company specifically states that the test cannot identify a pit bull, and further, the test is not designed to be used on purebred dogs.  According to the Mars Wisdom panel website, the company does not authorize the use of their test for enforcing BSL.

There is every indication this BSL calculator is just BS and there is no way to check it out with the information provided by John Dunham and associates.  We know the people behind this calculator and all the other information in that pamphlet are lobbying against BSL.  Instead of being bullied by pit bull lobbyists who will leave Elgin high and dry once they've gotten their way, Elgin should look to the over 200 communities that have implemented pit bull bans to see how they've gone about it and see what kind of success they've had.

When Miami-Dade county's pit bull ban came up for a vote after 28 years, a prominent pit bull advocate consulted the BSL calculator and boldly addressed the Miami-Dade legislature saying their pit bull ban was costing county residents over $3,000,000 a year to enforce.  A county commissioner turned to the animal services director and asked him to verify the astronomical number the BSL calculator came up with for Miami-Dade expenses.   The animal services director "pointed out that $3 million was more than the department's entire budget for enforcement, and that pit bulls accounted for two percent of the enforcement expenses."  Miami-Dade residents voted overwhelmingly to keep the ban.

Listen to an interview with Don Bauermeister, assistant city attorney from Council Bluffs, Iowa to hear about the success of BSL in his community.  He outlines the success in his city with BSL, he addresses supposed costs and legal actions, and the flurry of anger that town leaders will encounter from a minority of people. Then check out this page on for some news articles about cities happy with the successes they've had with implementing BSL.  It is time to end this decade long pit bull rampage in Elgin and all of Illinois should take heed and work to regulate pit bulls for the physical and economic safety and well-being of Illinois residents.

*A methodology report dated 2012 has been added.