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Pit Bulls bear brunt of breed bans
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA—The City Council joined the almost 200 municipalities nationwide to enact some sort of breed ban, according to the American Canine Foundation, a Belfair, Wash-based cooperative that actively fights breed-specific legislation. The ordinance prohibits the ownership, possession, transportation or harboring of any American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of a Pit Bull.
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA-The City Council joined the almost 200 municipalities nationwide to enact some sort of breed ban, according to the American Canine Foundation, a Belfair, Wash.-based cooperative that actively fights breed-specific legislation. The ordinance prohibits the ownership, possession, transportation or harboring of any American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of a Pit Bull.
The proposal allows current owners to keep dogs if they comply with certain regulations:
- Proof of at least $100,000 liability insurance
- Proof of spay or neuter
- Compliance with leash laws in public and containment when at home
- Notification of lost, stolen or deceased dogs
- Notification of a litter to the Public Health Department
- Insertion of an identifying microchip from the Council Bluffs Animal Shelter.
A licensed veterinarian, as well as the city animal shelter, can temporarily harbor any Pit Bull for the purpose of care and treatment of the animal or to comply with the ordinance. The law takes effect in 2005.
The Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) opposes so-called dangerous dog legislation that bans entire breeds, but the association did not fight the specific ordinance.
"The only way we catch something like this is in the newspaper or a member lets us know about it," says Tom Johnson, executive director of IVMA.
The association supports removing or euthanizing a dangerous dog that has injured or killed any person or domestic animal more than once.
"A dangerous dog is any dog that has, without provocation, injured or killed any person or domestic animal," the IVMA conveys in its position statement.
The IVMA supports the establishment of a dog-bite registry that would microchip animals with dog-bite histories.
Nice doggy, aye?
The entire province of Ontario, Canada is well on its way to banning Pit Bulls via verbiage from provincial Attorney General Michael Bryant, who suggests that the breed is "genetically predisposed to being dangerous."
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association argues that the same is true for all dogs.
"We at the CVMA feel that banning a specific breed or group of breeds will be an exercise in frustration and likely will not solve any problems. Dangerous dogs and legislation about dangerous dogs should be taken one case at a time," says Dr. Keith Campbell, president of CVMA. "Historically, people who want aggressive dogs will get them, whether they are Pit Bulls, Rottweiler or mixtures of different breeds. So owners of the dogs must take responsibility for the actions of their dogs; they have to be prepared to keep the dogs under control at all times, and they have to train the dogs well."
Specific breed bans might give people a false sense of security by indicating that permitted dogs are safe despite risky behavior that might prompt a dog to bite, Campbell says.
"We think this is a difficult piece of legislation to enact and enforce because someone is going to have to decide what types of characteristics constitute a dangerous breed or cross-breed of dog," he says. "So the decision of what dogs are subject to the ban is fairly arbitrary.