Lawmakers across the United States have long struggled with the issue of breed specific legislation (BSL). Their primary goal is to protect the people in their communities, but studies have shown that banning specific breeds has not improved dog bite statistics. Many states are revising their existing laws to protect dogs from being labeled “dangerous” or facing discrimination in shelters based solely on their breed.
This past Friday, Governor John Carney signed House Bill 13, making Delaware the 22nd US state to adopt anti-BSL legislation. Democratic Representative, Charles Potter introduced the bill in December and received the support of two senators and several other state reps.
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The law is designed to protect existing pets and their owners from facing breed bias throughout the state, and will also encourage animal control officers and shelter staff to assess a dog’s adoptability based on temperament, not physical characteristics. The synopsis of the bill explains:
“Findings to deem a dog dangerous will be based on actions of the dog, or an individualized demonstration of vicious behavior.”
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The passage of Delaware’s House Bill 13 marks yet another victory for animal welfare organizations fighting to make breed specific legislation a thing of the past. In a Facebook post this weekend, The Delaware Humane Association hailed the law as a “huge win for Delaware dogs.”
As expected, public response to the post was mixed, with most responders supporting the decision. When one user raised concerns about her neighbor’s Pit Bull-type dog, the DHA responded that “there is no proof that any specific breed is more “risky” to own than others.”
Dogs with Pit Bull-type characteristics have long been the primary targets of discriminatory legislation across the country despite several studies showing that such laws do not increase public safety. Animal welfare organizations suggest working to improve pet owner standards and enforcing dog licensing laws as an alternative to breed discrimination.
H/T Philly Voice
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