NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 5, 2006

The euthanization of more than 200 pit bull dogs in Houston last month has renewed the debate over how communities deal with dogs deemed to be dangerous.  Several state laws and local ordinances that range from increasing penalties for owners of dogs that cause serious injuries to banning pit bulls have been enacted this year. 

Some say the court's action could lead to further vilification of the breed, which has garnered headlines over the years for mauling or killing people:

  • Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have provisions for declaring dogs dangerous and vicious, according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
  • Eleven states -- California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia -- prohibit legislation that targets specific breeds, according to Janna Goodwin of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • Ohio is the only state that declares a specific breed -- pit bulls -- vicious; that law was ruled unconstitutional in March by Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals in Toledo but the ruling is being appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Among cities and states that have taken recent action on potentially dangerous dogs:

  • In Kansas City, Mo., the City Council passed a law last month that will require all pit bulls to be spayed or neutered; breeders will have to install fencing and document who buys the puppies.
  • In Overland Park, Kan., the City Council passed a ban on pit bulls in July; only owners who registered the dogs or applied to do so by July 27 will be allowed to have the pets.

Source: Charisse Jones, "Laws address dogs' potential for danger; Some concerned that breeds, not owners, will shoulder bad rap," USA Today, September 5, 2006.


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