Breed-specific legislation was recently proposed in York County, S.C., after an 11-year-old Rock Hill boy was mauled in late May 2012 by a neighbor’s dog. The youth had reportedly gone to the nearby home to borrow a kitchen item when the dog attacked him, injuring his arm and hand, and tearing away a part of the boy’s scalp. The boy and his brother had been in their neighbor’s home with the dog previously without incident.
On August 9, 2012, at a county council committee meeting, animal control officials offered several suggestions to the council that could lead to legislation targeting “Bully Breed” dogs. The child’s parents spoke out in support of some kind of restrictions.
A written document entitled “Options for Subcommittee Discussion – Public Safety (Dog Fighting/Dangerous Animal)” outlines an act that would impose certain requirements for people “having in their possession or custody dogs belonging to types bred for fighting,” and “enable restrictions to be imposed in relation to other types of dogs which present a serious danger to the public.” The proposed act would prohibit breeding, selling, giving away or advertising “any dog of the type known as the “pit bull” and “any dog of any type appearing to be bred for fighting, or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose.”
The document also outlines a prohibition on tethering all “Bully Breed” dogs and requires additional restraint or confinement methods and spaying at 4 months of age and older. The final provision is a requirement for a permit to own or keep five or more dogs.
The committee will study the proposals and make a recommendation to the York County Council in the next few weeks. Officials note that if any of the recommendations are adopted it may be next year before a law would be in place.
Florida Failure for BSL Opponents
Opponents of breed-specific legislation were disappointed on Tuesday, August 14, 2012, when citizens in Florida’s Dade County, which includes Miami, voted overwhelmingly to keep a ban on owning “American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or any mix thereof” that has been in effect since 1989.
At a forum held on June 26 where citizens were asked to express their views, local news organization local10.com reported that no one spoke out in favor of keeping the law. However, the vote in August was 63 percent in favor of maintaining the ban. This law was also enacted as the result of a dog “thought to be a pit bull” attacking an 8-year-old boy and severely damaging his face, according to the Miami Herald.
Two dog attacks in Florida within the past month may have spurred residents to vote to keep the ban. In one incident the Miami Herald reported that on July 19, 2012, a veterinary worker at Parkway Animal Hospital in Panama City, Fla., was attacked by a pit bull and was so severely injured that her arm had to be amputated.
AKC Responds to BSL Decision in Maryland
On August 9, the American Kennel Club wrote to the Maryland General Assembly imploring it to approve Emergency Bill 3LR3535 (Kramer), which would delay implementation of a declaration that resulted from the April 26 decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals, which says that “a pit bull or any dog with pit bull ancestry shall be deemed hence forth vicious and inherently dangerous as a matter of law.”
Since this was a court decision rather than newly enacted legislation, many groups that monitor potential breed-specific legislation were unaware of it for a period of time. Emergency Bill 3LR3535 would, according to the AKC letter, “delay implementation of the breed-specific law for a year until the legislature has had sufficient opportunity to study the impact, unintended consequences, and best practices for addressing dangerous dog issues.”
AKC has determined that dog owners spend more than $15.5 million each year in Maryland for veterinary care, grooming and pet supplies. It supports strong, responsible dangerous dog laws, but not those that target particular breeds.
Watch Best In Show Daily every other Sunday for updates on legislation pending around the country, or visit AKC’s Legislative Alerts online.