Bill Would Ban Dog Breed-Specific Legislation

Rep. Diana Urban has proposed a bill that is up for a public hearing today that would prohibit municipalities from enacting legislation banning specific dog breeds.


Two years ago, when a pit bull attacked and seriously injured a dog in a Dunbar Hill neighborhood, many came out to urge town officials to enact a ban against owning the breed.

But a bill in the state legislature that has a public hearing today would ban Avon, and every other city or town, from taking such steps.

State Rep. Diana Urban (D-43rd), introduced a bill to to prohibit municipalities from adopting breed-specific dangerous dog ordinances. The legislature's Planning and Development Committee held a public hearing on the bill on Feb. 20.

"The whole idea behind it is vilifying, it is uneducated and unnecessary," she said. Some states like Ohio and Florida will try to take a family pet away because they are a certain breed such as Staffordshire Terrier, German Shepherd or Rottweiler, she said.

"You hear it so often but bears repeating: it's not the dog, it's the owner," she said. Some people will breed the dog to be aggressive, she said, but even those dogs when removed and put into a family environment will thrive.

In her own home, her pit bull, which she rescued from Ohio, is regularly around children and has never shown any aggression.

"In Ohio she is labeled a dangerous dog because she is a pitbull mix — it boggles the mine," she said. "It's like saying because I am blond, I'm stupid.

"I'm not saying a dog can't be labeled as dangerous," Urban said, "but that its breed can't be the criteria."

Angel Capone Pitbull Rescue Director Racquel Trapp has worked with more than 800 pitbulls in the past 2 years and says there are many myths about pit bulls.

"I have yet to meet an aggressive one," she said. "I have been attacked by an Akita, a chihuahua, and a yorkie but have yet to be attacked by a pitbull."

To ban certain breed of dogs would only take them away from good, responsible owners, she said, and produce a system of underground breeders selling dogs bred that would be unsuitable as pets.

She points to the American Temperament Society's breed aggression statistics, where the American Pitbull Terrier and the Staffordshire Terrier rated as having a better temperament than most other breeds. 

In addition, she said, the National Canine Research Council conducted a study in 2010 that found that in order to prevent a single hospitalization resulting from a dog bite, a city or town would have to ban more than 100,000 dogs of a targeted breed and to prevent a second hospitalization, that number would have to be doubled.

"Dog-bite related fatalities are so extremely rare that not even a state could ban enough dogs to insure that they had prevented even one," she said. "Both history, scientific study and common sense will tell you such a law is ineffective, unjust, and will likely backfire."

Do you think the state should have a law prohibiting municipalities from banning certain dog breeds?

Shelley February 24, 2013 at 01:01 PM
I hope this bill passes. ANY dog can be aggressive if it's treated wrong. Start focusing on educating the owners rather than blaming the dogs! Watch the episode of Dogtown where they took in the Michael Vick dogs for a good example of what can happen when an abused dog gets treated right.
Elaine February 24, 2013 at 01:05 PM
I actually do believe that this is a good bill. Lawmakers are often too quick to blame the dog rather than the owner. On the other hand, I think that bad owners have to be held responsible for their dogs. If you have a dog with issues, you need to deal with them, whether that means training, walking it with a muzzle or keeping it in a secure area. However, I have to say that I disagree with the attempt to whitewash the problems inherent with owning a pit. They can be wonderful dogs; my family has owned them in the past. They can also be very strong willed and need to be socialized early and many rescues are not. I have met aggressive pit bulls and they are very scary! People need to be aware of this and rescue organizations don't do anyone any favors by trying to hide this fact.
Kat February 24, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I think this is a great bill. Owners need to take responsibility for training their dogs. Sadly, pit bulls are the most popluar breed in shelters. It is great to see a politician standing up for animal rights. Diana Urban is also proposing an "Animal Advocate" bill that would allow a veterinarian to be named as an "animal advocate" in court cases involving cruelty to animals.
Wanda Colman February 24, 2013 at 01:52 PM
It is the responsibility of the individual dog owner to decide, after reasonable study of breeds to choose which breed or mix of dog for which he wants to be responsible. Then the dog owner must obey the Town's rules and regulations regarding licensing, innoculations, leash or not, etc, but I certainly don't think the Town should tell us what breed of dog to own. A Canine breed discrimination law is not a good idea. I am paying more on my homeowners policy because I have a dog and I think it should be the other way around. They now see all breeds of dogs as a possible liability. Next all dogs will be outlawed. What is that old saying--"All guns are loaded and all dogs bite." I can't imagine my life without a dog or two, and I take full responsibility for them.
Karen's Dog Training Blog February 24, 2013 at 03:07 PM
I urge people on both sides of the issue to read the book The Pit Bull Placebo which can be downloaded for free at this site: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/publications/ncrc-publications/ I am against BSL and am in support of this bill.
Patricia February 24, 2013 at 05:36 PM
I agree with all above, like said it is not the dog but the owner. Any dog big or small can attack an other animal or human being. Also what might be taken into thought is was this dog ill. I know someone who's St Bernard attacked a child supposedly for no reason. Turned out the kid stuck a pencil into the dogs ear. Owners who allow their pets to rome, about should be fined not the poor dog, I happen to know many people with Pit Bulls, and they are lovely calm sweet dogs. If you know your dog is aggressive and believe me if you care for your dog you will, YOU take the necessary steps to make sure he harms no one.
Fletch Kelly February 25, 2013 at 02:28 PM
I think Rep. Urban has her priorities confused. This is just another example of the philosophy put forth by federal and state legislatures and executive branches that they know better how to run our lives than we do. Regardless of whether the bill has merit, it should be up to the various municipalities to control the problem. To use a cliche', one shoe doesn't fit all. Fletch Kelly
Vicki Krupnikoff February 25, 2013 at 05:38 PM
V !icki West Hartford , I adopted two pitbull mixes ; And you would be frightened to come to my home !!!!! You might get licked to death . Ha Ha
Vicki Krupnikoff February 25, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Vicki In West Hartford ; I have adopted two pitbull mixes , And yes you might be frightened to come to my home !!!!! You might get licked to death ! Ha Ha !
John Lucker March 04, 2013 at 11:39 PM
There will always be exceptions - owners of stereo-typical aggressive dogs who say that their pets are gentle and wouldn't hurt anyone. And that is likely true. However good, well done statistics usually don't lie when based on the law of large numbers, which includes large numbers of breeds, large numbers of individual dogs, large numbers of owners, large numbers of styles of dog training, etc. From this, certain information emerges about what breeds are most aggressive and result in the most bites, attacks, injuries,etc to people. Check this out for dog bite fatalities from 1979-1996: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/images/dogbreeds-a.pdf From Table 2, the #1 most aggressive human fatality causing dog by a wide margin is the Pit Bull. Followed next by Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Husky, Malamute, and on and on. What we make of these statistics is a matter of public and social policy. But we should be careful when considering such issues based on people's personal attestations that their dog is gentle, passive and wouldn't hurt a soul. Is this a problem worth fixing via legislation? I don't know. But let's not mix our love of our own dog and its breed with pure statistics because the facts are some dog breeds are more aggressive than others.
Brian C. Duffy March 06, 2013 at 02:45 AM
"I am paying more on my homeowners policy because I have a dog and I think it should be the other way around." I agree. Many dogs, regardless of their breed, should be paying more on their homeowner's policy because they have a human, regardless of their breed as well. You have to watch those humans all the time. They may seem friendly and intelligent most of the time, but you never know when they are suddenly going to snap and do something crazy. Like put the crate on top of the station wagon.


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