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

A new law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick prevents 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 negates 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 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 the dogs killed in shelters are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, and 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.

DogsBite.org, a national dog bite victims' group, says from 2006 to 2008, pit bulls accounted for 59 percent of the nation's fatal dog attacks. 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.) 

Briana Auclair August 29, 2012 at 04:12 PM
"...crazy, time bomb, dog fighting, killing machines." Funny, sounded like you were talking about a human there at first. You make it sound like they meet up on their own on Friday night to fight each other to the death because they wanna make some extra Beggin' Strips money or for fun. Dogs are a product of the humans (You know, the ones you don't ever judge unless they happen to have a Staffordshire Terrier with them, then they are evil heathen beasts on two legs.) Stop hating the dogs and start hating the people. Be angry with Michael Vick. The dogs didn't have a choice. If a dog is not shown love, is abused and sees violence as a positive, it will turn out vicious. So do humans. Dogs are no different, and as a matter of fact- dogs are WAY more forgiving than most humans ever would be.
Kerry Morris August 29, 2012 at 06:00 PM
My neighbor has a pit and I have to say he is the most loving, adorable fatso i've ever met. He is sweet and gentle with me and both of my girls. My sister on the other hand has a pomeranian shih tzu who by all stereotypes should be this loving little lapdog. Tell that to my nephew who has a cut on his chin from the dog biting him in the face. Or tell that to my neice who cant even go near the little critter without him going beserk. Or how about the fact you cant touch him when hes asleep without the fear of being attacked. Dogs are like people. They have there own personalities. You cant blame it on just certain breeds.
Jennifer Bragg September 09, 2012 at 05:49 AM
God gave humans domain over the animal world. Makes it humans fault. Never has any dog growled at me, never have I done a dog or any animal harm. Stop hating and provoking them. any animal bites when threatened somehow, just as any human would punch if their life was indeed at risk. The Bible says to turn the other cheek and yet we fight Back tell me... how can you say that about an innocent creature who only needs and wants your affection. How dare you kill so many innocent animals for just being what they are......ask any black or native American how their ancestors feel about being the human equivalent. or for those of you who watch movies....James Cameron...avatar watch it...
Carol Bragg September 09, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Jennifer: Hi! Are we related? I have a friend whose dog suddenly started biting and had to be put down. I asked someone who's knowledgeable about animals what might cause this. He said a brain tumor or Lyme disease -- similar to Lyme rage in humans. But this would be true of any breed.
Jerry Chase September 15, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Paul's description is apt. They're worse than worthless---eradicate them.

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