Prohibiting Dog Breed Specific Laws: Fair or Turning a Blind Eye?

A new law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick would prevent cities and towns from instituting breed specific dog rules.

Is it common sense to allow cities and towns to pass rules specific to certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls, in the name of public safety? Or do they unfairly target certain dogs? 

Earlier this month, Gov. Deval Patrick signed an animal rights bill that takes effect Nov. 1 and includes a stipulation prohibiting cities and towns from creating breed specific rules at the local level.

The move has angered some Boston officials, the Boston Herald reports, as the new state law would negate the city's "Responsible Pit Bull Ownership" ordinance that, among other rules, requires pit bull owners to keep their dogs muzzled when off the owner's private property. Boston adopted the ordinance in 2004 after several pit bull attacks in the city captured officials' attention.

Other cities have also wrangled over how to deal with a perceived issue regarding pit bulls and public safety. In Malden, the city council approved a bill this spring that would have , but Mayor Gary Christenson later and suggested amendments to the law.

After his veto in April, Christenson wrote to the council, "The ordinance should be centered on how a dog behaves and not how a dog looks as I believe this legislation suggests."

The Best Friends Animal Society says that about half of the dogs killed in shelters today are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, and that there are 20 different species of dogs that are commonly confused with pit bulls, thus making breed-discriminatory rules hard to enforce. The Humane Society of the United States says that in media-reported animal cruelty cases, dogs and in particular pit bulls are the most common victims of animal cruelty.

On the other hand, DogsBite.org, a national dog bite victims' group, says that from 2006 to 2008, pit bulls accounted for 59 percent of all fatal dog attacks in the U.S. The next highest breed, rottweilers, accounted for 14 percent of those deaths.

Is the new state law prohibiting breed specific local ordinances turning a blind eye to a problem? Or do those types of rules unfairly target a specific breed and punish dogs for having bad owners? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

(Editor's note: This article is published to several Patch sites south of Boston.) 

Christopher D’Arpino September 24, 2012 at 03:48 PM
First and foremost we need to dispell the myths from the facts. #1 lockjaw- does not exist anatomically,medically or otherwise.There is no such mechanism by which a dogs jaw can"lock".Not a pitbull,labrador or Lhasa Apso.. #2Their nature is to be vicious- Not true. Pitbull type dogs are extememly loyal and intelligent and are highly trainable.The do not come out of the womb with a predisposition to bite.This is like saying irish people have a predisposition to alcoholism,or any other stereotype. #3 judging by breed is the same as judging by race. Saying a sapecific breed is goingt odo something based on its appearance is the same as saying a certain race of people will act a certain way based on the way they look...it is racism and baseless. #4The pitbull use to be the "american dog" for its nurturing nature,more commonly known as the "nanny dog" for its natureof working with families and infants. Spot, on the lil rascals was a pitbull, and many other companies used the pitbull,including the governemnt to show strength and compassion as a symbol. #5 Pitbulls feel less pain than other dogs. Dogs like people have varying degrees of pain tolerance. a pitbulltype dog is no less feeling than anyother living being. #7 a dog under normal circumstances and normal medical history is subject to his environment,like humans, learns appropriate responses and is taught through training. Facts are where the converstaion needs to start not myths and misconceptions based on headlines.
Just Me! September 25, 2012 at 03:47 PM
No..I would never treat my child like an animal...nor would I treat my animal as a human...That's the reality of it all....a dog may be part of the family...but it is still an animal and should be treated as such
Just Me! September 25, 2012 at 03:50 PM
What needs to happen is that the dogs owners need to be held responsible for it's animals actions...pure and simple....
Christopher D’Arpino September 25, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Correct the deed not the breed needs to be dealt with and the owners need to be held responsible..
Christopher D’Arpino September 25, 2012 at 03:55 PM
And to the comment that animals are animals and humans are humans...might I remind you we are part of the animal kingdom and in fact are ourselves animals...mammals in fact...Oh and african americans were considered animals and not worthy of humnane treatment during slavery also....


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