City officials in Boston, Mass., got an unwelcome surprise after Governor Deval Patrick signed a new animal protection law that includes a measure banning breed specific legislation (BSL) throughout the state and makes the city’s current restrictions on pit bulls null and void as of October 31.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and City Councilor Rob Consalvo are all in a tizzy over the issue and are aghast that no one bothered to consult them beforehand. They plan to request a home rule petition that would exempt them from the state law against BSL.
“We know what’s best for the city of Boston ― not the 200 people in the Legislature,” said Consalvo, who authored the current restrictions. “There was no consultation. They just passed it … and it’s going to be a threat to public safety.”
Boston’s “Responsible Pit Bull Ordinance” has been in place since 2004. However, the new state law specifically states that “No order shall be issued directing that a dog deemed dangerous be removed from the town or city in which the owner of such dog resides. No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.”
“There is no evidence to support that breed specific ordinances work,” said Reginald Zimmerman, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Division of Animal Health. “The animal-control bill is designed to be breed-neutral and work on a case-by-case basis to prevent good owners and good dogs from being punished unfairly.”
Statistics don’t back up the claim that any one breed is more dangerous than another and unjustly target innocent dogs and responsible owners. In addition to the problems with misidentification, declaring a breed dangerous based solely on looks with no regard for their actual disposition is not an effective approach in regards to controlling dogs’ behaviors within a community or improving safety.
Please sign the petition asking the Massachusetts legislature not to approve any petitions from Boston officials seeking to circumvent state law and allow BSL, and instead support breed-neutral laws, in addition to focusing on promoting humane animal care, tougher penalties for animal abusers and education for the public on how to avoid dog bites.
Photo credit: stephskardal