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Legislative Updates: North Carolina Considers BSL

A bill designed to “regulate the ownership of aggressive dog breeds” was filed in North Carolina on April 16, 2013, sponsored by Representative Rodney Moore. House Bill 956 specifically defines “aggressive dog breed” as any of these breeds and dogs that are predominantly any of these breeds: pit bull, including Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers; Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Chow Chows and PresaCanarios. The bill also defineswolf hybrids as an “aggressive dog breed.”

HB 956 seeks to require any person who wishes to acquire a dog of one of these breeds, or a mix of any of them, to submit to a criminal background check by the local sheriff’s office, and to enroll in a class provided by the Humane Society of the United States or another “rescue organization” (more on the illogical pairing of those two phrases later) for any of the “aggressive dog breeds,” which would theoretically be “designed to educate owners of these dogs about their temperament and … the requirements for responsible ownership of the breed.” Potential owners would also be required to notify their insurance carriers that they have “complied with the provisions…to establish the level of risk involved in providing insurance to the person,” and apply to the state’s Department of Insurance for a permit to own a dog of this type.

If North Carolina bill 956 should become law, anyone who acquires a Rottweiler, or any one of six other breeds or mixes thereof, will have to submit to a criminal background check. Photo ©www.canstockphoto.com.

This bill is so draconian in its approach to animal control and educating citizens regarding responsible dog ownership that it is difficult to imagine how it got past the draft stage, but clearly there are still politicians, even in American Kennel Club territory, who are woefully uneducated about the fact that breed-specific legislation does not work.

AKC has drafted a letter to Representative Moore in opposition to his bill, and members of North Carolina’s 143 AKC-affiliated clubs have all no doubt discussed this issue and mobilized their peers to contact their representatives. The North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs is also, as always, actively working to educate lawmakers. I must say that this is the first time I have lived in a location where breed-specific legislation has been proposed, and I have personally found it much more frightening than I would have imagined, considering how many years I’ve been following and monitoring legal issues related to dogs.

Although I don’t own any of the targeted breeds, several people who are very close to me do, and I think until it becomes personal perhaps people tend not to really grasp the potential impact this type of legislation could have on our dog community. All the more reason that we must all pay attention, even when it isn’t in our own locale. If it can happen to someone else, it can happen to you as well.

On a related subject, I hope that Best In Show Daily readers are familiar with the facts about the Humane Society of the United States: thatless than 1 percent of money the “nonprofit” organization raises actually goes to pet shelters or looking after animals; that an HSUS statement says it supports “the enactment and enforcement of animal control ordinances designed to regulate, deter, and reduce companion animal breeding”; and that each year the HSUS spends millions of dollars in support of an extreme animal rights agenda very similar to that of PETA and other groups of its ilk.

The National Animal Interest Alliance attempts to separate fact from fiction in regard to HSUS, and Humane Watch was designed specifically as a watchdog to monitor the activities of HSUS and report to the public, good or bad. (And it’s mostly bad.)This document discusses the deceptive fundraising tactics of the organization. The American Shih Tzu Club has an article posted that includes a great deal of information about HSUS and other animal rights extremist groups.

Although HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle was quoted in a 2012 Washington Post article as saying, “We have never represented ourselves as giving all of our money to pet shelters, not in any ad,” its television ads strongly imply that its primary focus is helping animals in need, when in reality HSUS is a wealthy special interest lobbying group.

Dog owners in North Carolina can contact state representatives to express concern about breed-specific legislation in general and HB 956 in particular. Find contact info for House representatives here, and Senate members here.

On the brighter side, the state of Connecticut seems to have come into the 21st century, and its House Bill 6311, which would prohibit breed-specific legislation in the state, was approved on April 19 by the Joint Committee on Planning and Development. It is now on the House calendar and should be scheduled for a vote soon. Connecticut residents are urged to contact their representatives, whose contact information can be found here  and email addresses here, in support of 6311.

AKC provides an illuminating document that outlines why breed-specific legislation doesn’t work, and also a list of talking points that are designed to help educate not just our friends and communities, but also government representatives.

Best In Show Daily reports biweekly on legislative actions around the country that will or may impact dog ownership. The American Kennel Club government relations office also maintains a list of Legislative Alerts on its website, where fanciers can stay up-to-date on current issues in dog-related legislation around the United States and find contact information when legislation is pending in their area.

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.

2 Comments to “Legislative Updates: North Carolina Considers BSL”

  1. Dorey Harman says:

    And just how do they plan to identify dogs that are mixed breeds with these breeds? That is the biggest weakness in these laws, and one of the reason they can’t be enforced. They would far better off to propose aggressive dog ordinances, so that dogs of ANY breed that are nasty are controlled and innocent dogs that happen to be one of the supposedly “aggressive breeds” are not unduly charged as mean.

  2. Christi says:

    We couldn’t agree with you more, Dorey. Laws that penalize dogs based on their behavior rather than their breed or appearance have been proven to be more effective and enforceable than breed-specific laws. Thanks for your comment.

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