The South Dakota Senate Local Government Committee endorsed a bill today that would bar cities and counties from regulating specific breeds of dog within their borders. Senate Bill 75 would prohibit ordinances that target specific breeds, but would not prevent cities from enacting ordinances that apply to all animals. The bill also recommends ways for cities to deal with vicious animals by addressing owners and individual animals.
SB 75 passed in a 6-1 vote, with even the opponents agreeing that breed specific legislation is an ineffective means of handling vicious animals.
Proponents including Tom Rentschler, a veterinarian speaking on behalf of the South Dakota Veterinary Medical Association, pointed out to the members of the Senate Local Government Committee that it is not a dog’s breed that determines risk, but a dog’s individual history and conduct.
Ledy VanKavage, an attorney with Best Friends Animal Society, testified that pet owners see this as an issue of property rights, and stressed that responsible dog owners in America should be allowed to own any dog they choose.
A representative of the South Dakota Municipal League offered testimony opposing SB75, but admitted the municipal league actually agrees with the proponents’ position on the bill. The municipal league discourages cities from enacting breed specific laws, and instead urges them to focus on owners and individual dogs. Despite this, the municipal league opposes a loss of local control.
The lone dissenting vote was cast by Senator Craig Tieszen who, oddly enough, also agreed that breed specific bans are not good policy, but felt the state shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of cities.
With a vote of 6-1, SB 75 now advances to the full Senate! A hearing before the Senate is expected next week.
SOUTH DAKOTA RESIDENTS: Please reach out to your Senators and ask them to support SB 75. Let them know that laws that target dogs based on their appearance rather than their behavior creates communities that are more vulnerable to dangerous dogs, not less. The passage of SB 75 would mean cities and counties, in drafting animal control ordinances, would have to tackle the root cause of dangerous dogs, irresponsible and reckless dog owners, rather than pass a blanket law that regulates all members of specific breeds.
Please remember to keep all communications with legislators polite and respectful. The manner in which we communicate with officials can and does make a difference.
Members of the South Dakota Senate:
sen.Begalka@state.sd.us, sen.Bradford@state.sd.us, sen.Brown@state.sd.us, sen.Buhl@state.sd.us, sen.Ewing@state.sd.us, sen.Frerichs@state.sd.us, sen.Heineman@state.sd.us, sen.Holien@state.sd.us, sen.jeanHunhoff@state.sd.us, sen.Jensen@state.sd.us, sen.Jones@state.sd.us, sen.Kirkeby@state.sd.us, sen.Krebs@state.sd.us, sen.Lederman@state.sd.us, sen.Lucas@state.sd.us, sen.Maher@state.sd.us, sen.Monroe@state.sd.us, sen.Novstrup@state.sd.us, sen.Omdahl@state.sd.us, sen.Otten@state.sd.us, sen.Peters@state.sd.us, sen.Rampelberg@state.sd.us, sen.Rave@state.sd.us, sen.Rhoden@state.sd.us, sen.Soholt@state.sd.us, sen.Tidemann@state.sd.us, sen.Tieszen@state.sd.us, sen.VanGerpen@state.sd.us, sen.Vehle@state.sd.us, sen.Welke@state.sd.us, sen.White@state.sd.us, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org