Louisville nexes breed bans from dangerous dog law
Louisville, Ky. - At 3:45 a.m. Dec. 20, Louisville Metro Council members passed a dangerous dog ordinance that rejected an original version calling for the ban of seven large breeds including Pit Bulls.
LOUISVILLE, KY. — At 3:45 a.m. Dec. 20, Louisville Metro Council members passed a dangerous dog ordinance that rejected an original version calling for the ban of seven large breeds including Pit Bulls.
Deliberation on the 94-page document took roughly nine hours. The decision to eliminate the breed-specific language reflects the lobbying efforts of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and American Veterinary Medical Association, which view vicious dogs as an ownership problem rather than a behavior issue inherent to breed. Such bans are too simplistic and not science-based, officials say.
Yet efforts behind the measure are more emotional, to say the least. Calls for a dangerous dog ordinance rewrite surfaced in 2005 after a 14-month-old was killed by her family's Pit Bull and two dogs killed a 60-year-old in a separate incident. Council's final version toughens the city's spay/neuter policy and leash mandate. It also requires veterinarians to turn over copies of vaccination certificates to government officials so animal services can then compel those animal owners to comply with the licensing law.
Still, expert opinion from veterinarians has not quashed all government attempts to enact breed bans. According to Adrian Hochstadt, AVMA assistant director of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, 11 states prohibit the identification of breeds as dangerous. Yet local authority in some states is protected by a stipulation known as home rule power, which allows city officials to trump the state's purview.
Illinois is one example. Although a constitutional amendment prohibits breed-specific language, some municipalities still ban Pit Bulls. In 2006, Overland Park, Kan., banned Pit Bulls, and Clinton, Miss., followed suit with an ordinance to bar Rottweilers as well.
The issue receives a lot of attention, Hochstadt contends.
"People feel very strongly on both sides," he says. "That's why it's not surprising that we're seeing a lot of activity on this, especially at the local level. For us, it's a city-by-city fight to make it known that dangerous dogs are an ownership problem not related to breed."