Bill to prevent dog breed discrimination moves to the House

On March 26, 2015, senator David Robertson introduced Senate Bill 239. This bill proposes to prevent local city governments from banning specific breeds of dogs from communities; however, the government is still allowed to place rules about other dog breeds and their owners.

Pit bulls are the most common type of dog breed banned. In Newaygo, Mich. and 26 other Michigan cities, pit bulls are banned, as they are often viewed as dangerous and vicious. Other common types of dogs viewed this way include German shepherds, rottweilers and American Staffordshire terriers. The bill will abolish these current laws that allow pit bulls and other dogs to be banned from communities. The new legislation will allow residents to own any type of dog, encouraging the public to stop seeing dogs such as pit bulls as a dangerous breed. Instead, a dog will be considered dangerous based on its own actions and behavior.

“I support the bill. I believe that dogs are not dangerous based off their genes or breed. Dogs, just like humans, are influenced by their owner,” said sophomore Samone Wilson, emphasizing the influence that care has on future behavior.

More and more states are removing discriminatory laws against dog breeds and are now introducing laws similar to Bill 239. Many states have created laws that prevent dogs from being discriminated against in any way, including being named vicious solely on their breed. Currently, 19 states have laws against breed specific legislation.

For example, Connecticut’s law states “No municipality may adopt breed-specific
dog ordinances.”

Supporters of this bill believe that vicious behavior is based on the dog itself and not the breed. Factors that affect behavior range from abuse to whether or not the dog is neutered to if the owner keeps an eye on their dog. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that “controlled studies have not identified [pit bulls’ as disproportionately dangerous.”

Several Animal Advocacy Organizations, such as Best Friends Animal Society, support Bill 239. They support that the bill will allow anyone to own any type of dog. According to their legislative attorney Richard Angelo, their mission is to “protect the interests of companion animals, such as dogs and cats, and the responsible people who care for them.”

Other groups supporting the bill include the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Vicki Diesner of ASPCA says that banning particular breeds rather than looking at the individual dog punishes pet owners whose animals are perfectly friendly and well supervised.

Senate Bill 239 passed through the Senate on Oct. 8, 2015 with a vote of 25-11. The next step is going through the House of Representatives.