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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?

Last week, 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 north of Boston.) 

mplo September 10, 2012 at 06:32 PM
German Shepards don't have the capacity to inflict the kind of extensive damage that pitbulls do when they bite, because, unlike pitbulls, they don't go for the musculature of their victim, nor do they clamp down and not let go. They're much more unpredictable than German Shepards, who are intelligent enough so that they're frequently used as seeing-eye dogs, fire and police dogs, and even rescue dogs.
mplo September 12, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Pekinese dogs may be tenacious, but they don't have the ability to inflict the extensive damage that pitbulls inflict when they bite. While bulldogs were bred for bull-baiting, not all of them were. The regular American bulldog, more often than not, was originally bred as a work dog. Breeding for bull-baiting came later, and then some terriers do have aggression in them, and the British bulldog, which later developed a stronger, tougher jaw, was crossbred with a terrier to breed a pitbull. The Stafford Terrier is an example, as is the American PItbull Terrier.
mplo September 12, 2012 at 04:09 PM
In one website on pitbulls, it was pointed out that even leading pitbull educators have warned pitbull owners that they shouldn't trust their pitbulls NOT to fight.
Ms. Stella November 01, 2012 at 06:46 PM
MPLO: Let me share some facts with you and help get you educated before you spread anymore stereotypes about these dogs. 1. German Shepards have a higher PSI for their jaws than Pit Bulls do. It means they have a stronger bite. German Shepards, Rottweilers, any sizable dog has the capacity to do damage. 2.Pit Bulls are also used as therapy dogs. There are thousands around the country. 3. American Temperamental Society Tests: average breed 83%. Pitbulls have the average pass rate of 85%, MORE than most dog breeds. 4. No dog, not even pit bulls, have lock jaws. 5. Pit bulls do not have "mean genes" or aggressive genes. They are not inherently dangerous because of their DNA. 6. Raised as "Nanny Dogs" for babysitting children on the frontier. Unfortunately, disgusting people like Michael Vick have used them for dog fighting. You think pit bulls are the only ones? What about cock-fighting? Should we ban roosters and chickens too? What about bears? What about tigers? Should we ban every animal because SOMEONE used them for fighting? In fact, let's ban every human who fights to. Or let's ban every child who fights from school. Your discrimination against these dogs is unfair and it's people like you and the media who make the situation worse. Why don't you go on a parade against chihuahas and Pomeranians? They have killed infants too.
edmund ross December 17, 2012 at 03:55 PM
i am sick of people who don"t know squat about dogs makeing laws favering insurance co"s, and alowing them to extort hight rates just because of the breed of the dog it is somutch bs

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