UTAH: HB97 Would Prohibit Breed Specific Ordinances; Hearing set for 2/10/14

A bill has been introduced in the Utah legislature that would prohibit the passage of breed specific ordinances and render existing breed specific ordinances void. House Bill 97 was introduced by Representative Brian King, and states as follows:

Regulation of dogs by a municipality.

(1) A municipality may not adopt or enforce a breed-specific rule, regulation, policy, or ordinance regarding dogs.
(2) Any breed-specific rule, regulation, policy, or ordinance regarding dogs is void.

HB 97 has been assigned to the House Political Subdivisions Committee, and a hearing is set on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

UTAH RESIDENTS: Please reach out to the members of the House Political Subdivisions Committee and ask them to support HB 97. 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 HB 97 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.

Additional points you might want to share with your legislators:

Breed identification problems:  Animal control and/or law enforcement officers are not able to identify specific breeds of dogs with any degree of accuracy because the commonly stated physical characteristics of a “pit bull” are similar in many breeds.  In fact, veterinarians and animal welfare professionals agree that visual breed identification is not reliable. A JAVMA article published in November 2012 presents its case and rebuts the reliance on breed identification by physical appearance because it can and does lead to animals and owners being wrongly subject to and penalized by a breed specific law.

Breed bans carry with them too much potential for arbitrary or improper enforcement: inaccurate breed identification by officials and difficulty enforcing breed bans against mixed-breed.

Failure to address irresponsible owners. Restricting breeds of dogs does not address the real issue of irresponsible owners. Only when such owners are held accountable for the actions of their dogs, will adverse dog incidents be reduced.

Because breed specific legislation fails to address irresponsible dog owners, many areas that have enacted breed regulations have actually experienced an increase in dog bite/attack incidents of the dog breeds NOT covered by the breed specific law.

Owners should be held accountable in the judicial system for the actions of their dogs, not the other way around.  After all, laws are created for people, not animals.

Finally, regardless of the specific issues you want to address with your legislators, its important to keep all communications polite and respectful.  The manner in which we communicate with decision- makers can and does make a difference.

Members of the House Political Subdivisions Committee:

curtwebb@le.utah.gov, jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov,
jerryanderson@le.utah.gov, jcox@le.utah.gov,jdunnigan@le.utah.gov, chall@le.utah.gov,mikekennedy@le.utah.gov, mariepoulson@le.utah.gov,
mroberts@le.utah.gov, jseelig@le.utah.gov,jwestwood@le.utah.gov

Many thanks to Ledy and Hank for the info on the upcoming meeting!

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