Washington State Mulls Prohibiting Banning of Specific Dog Breeds

| In The News

bigstock-Crossbreed--months-old-sitt-41972335It’s easy to see a pit bull and immediately feel uncomfortable or scared. Their wide jaws and often muscular bodies seen through their short-haired coats can trigger a sense of danger.

Their loving licks and wagging tail can also trigger the opposite feeling.

In American society there are taboos placed on pit bulls and other “fighting dogs” like Rottweilers. Twelve cities in Washington have banned pit pulls, 2 cities ban other dog breeds as well, and 13 cities have classified pit bulls and other breeds as “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous,” according to www.dogsbite.org.

A bill being discussed in the Washington State Legislature, House Bill 2117, seeks to prohibit naming specific breeds of dogs as dangerous or potentially dangerous, or banning any specific breed of dog.

If passed, the bill would declare that “a dog’s breed is not inherently indicative of whether or not the dog is dangerous and that the criteria for determining whether or not a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous should be focused on the dog’s behavior.”

State law currently prohibits prosecutors from using a dog’s breed to show “that the owner of the dog either knew or should have known that the dog was potentially dangerous.” However, many local city laws have classified certain breeds as such, contradicting the current language of the law. House Bill 2117 would emphasize that breed discrimination is not a valid legal course and cannot be enforced.

Pit bulls’ bad reputation has mainly come from their popularity in dog-fighting matches. Owners of fighting dogs favor the dogs and train them to be vicious fighters. People also train them as guard dogs to fend off unwanted visitors. Other breeds can and are trained in the same fashion, resulting in an equally dangerous dog.

In reality, research has found that pit bulls have a relatively mild temperament compared to other popular dog breeds. More American Pit Bull Terriers passed their temperament test than Golden Retrievers, Collies, and Beagles, according to the American Temperament Test Society, Inc., an organization that does temperament evaluations for different dog breeds.

Though many dog attacks, and even deaths, are attributed to pit bulls and other fighting breeds, it is not generally accepted that breed-specific legislation (such as banning or labeling breeds dangerous) does anything to ease this danger. The Humane Society of the United States and the American Veterinary Medical Association, among others groups, have concluded that breed-specific legislation is ineffective and unnecessary.

All dogs are capable of hurting and killing humans. A 6-week-old baby was killed in Southern California by the family’s Pomeranian in 2000, according to the Los Angeles Times. Pomeranians range between 3-7 pounds and are considered companion dogs.

Safe, social dogs develop with responsible owners, not with breed-specific legislation.

Do you have questions about preventing your family members from dog bites? Call Premier Law Group at 206-285-1743, or visit our Contact page to send an email to our knowledgable staff.

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