In a victory for dogs and their advocates, South Dakota officially became the eighteenth state to pass a law against breed discrimination when the Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a bill that will make all breeds equal in the eyes of the law.
Thankfully attitudes are catching up with reality when it comes to the effectiveness of targeting specific breeds – namely pit bulls – to improve safety in communities. Laws that discriminate against dogs based solely on their looks, otherwise known as breed discriminatory legislation (BDL) or breed specific legislation (BSL), are nothing but a costly and ineffective waste of time and money that punish responsible owners and kill innocent dogs.
A broad range of organizations have formally opposed BDL and were joined by the White House last year when it came out with an official statement in opposition to breed discrimination. The National Canine Research Council also points out that numerous studies have shown that BDL has not accomplished its goal of reducing dog bites in places where it has been enacted.
While opponents continue to fight against myths and stereotypes surrounding pit bulls that are perpetuated by the media, lawmakers are also recognizing that any dog can bite and are taking a common sense approach to dealing with dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners equally.
South Dakota’s bill, SB 75, will stop local governments from “enacting, maintaining, or enforcing regulations on certain dog breeds.” Not only will this prevent local governments from targeting certain breeds in the future, but it will also overturn existing bans.
South Dakota’s bill was introduced by Senator Dan Lederman, who got to the heart of this issue with a simple statement: ”The fact is, a dog’s breed has nothing to do with how the dog behaves. Dog bites are not a breed problem. They’re an owner problem.”
“This legislation takes the focus off of Petey [from the Little Rascals], and puts it where it belongs, on the owners of pets to be responsible pet owners. It’s part of being a good steward for the animals in our care, and part of being a good neighbor,” he concluded.
Utah’s bill, HB 97, which will also stop local governments from passing breed specific laws and overturn existing ones, was passed by the legislature and has gone to Governor Gary Hebert for a signature.
Meanwhile, Missouri’s bill, HB 1116, will amend current state codes and will give local governments the authority “to prohibit dogs from running at large or to further control or regulate dogs within its boundaries if the ordinance, order, policy, or regulation is not breed specific.”
Please sign and share the petition urging Missouri’s lawmakers to keep dogs and communities safe, without targeting breeds based solely on their looks.
Photo credit: Thinkstock