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Montanans Against Breed Specific Legislation

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Honorable Montana Legislation members: RE: Oppose Breed Specific Legislation Dear Representative/Senator: We are correspomding today because we are concerned about the proposed breed-specific dog legislation being considered by Montana’s legislature. We are residents of Montana and responsible dog owners and we oppose the enactment of breed-specific legislation. • The problem of dangerous dogs is not remedied by the quick fix of breed-discriminatory laws. All dogs can bite. Studies of pre and post breed ban dog bite rates in the United Kingdom and Spain concluded that their pit bull breed bans had no affect whatsoever on reducing dog bites. • Moreover, in its study of human fatalities resulting from dog bites, the Centers for Disease Control did not support the breed specific approach. The CDC noted many other factors beyond a dogs breed may affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression – things such as reproductive status, heredity, sex, early experience, and socialization and training. These concerns seem well-founded given that more than 70% of all dog bite cases involve unsterilized male dogs, and an unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than a neutered dog. In 2006, 97% of all dog related human fatalities in the United States involved unsterilized canines. • Another insidious problem seen with canine profiling is the potential for abuse. The result is selective enforcement that sometimes is triggered simply by the ethnic background of the owner. • Breed discriminatory laws cause unintended hardship to responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised and well-socialized dogs that happen to fall within the regulated breed category. Although these dog owners have done nothing to endanger the public, they may be forced by the municipality to either give up their dogs or move out of their home. The pets that are given up are killed. • The most harmful consequence of breed-discriminatory laws is their tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. Resources are shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best change of making our communities safer: leash laws, dog license laws, spay/neuter laws and animal fighting laws. • Rather than breed-discriminatory restrictions, animal control laws should allow hearings where animal control wardens or law enforcement officers can declare any dog to be “dangerous” regardless of its breed if it attacks a person or companion animal without justification and causes serious physical injury or death, or behaves in a manner which a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to one or more persons or companion animals. Any dog that is found to be “dangerous” should be required to be: 1. Spayed or Neutered. Studies have shown that more than 70% of bite cases come from animals that are not neutered. If a dog is found to be “dangerous,” it should be mandated that it be spayed or neutered. 2. Micro chipped. If a dog is found to be “dangerous,” it should be required to be micro chipped so there is a permanent identification of the dog. Dogs of some breeds are easy to confuse, especially if the owner has multiple dogs of the same breed. 3. Muzzled. All “dangerous dogs” should be required to be muzzled when in a public place, and walked by a person at least 18 years of age. Legislators should also consider: • Restricting Tethering. 25% of all fatal dog attacks involve tethered dogs. Most dog fighters chain their animals. • Prevent Reckless Owners from owning dogs. Minnesota prohibits repeat reckless owners of dogs deemed dangerous from owning dogs in their state. Illinois prevents convicted felons from owning unsterilized dogs. Breed-specific legislation is an ineffective solution to animal control problems because it fails to address the heart of the issue—irresponsible ownership. Responsible owners who are already complying with local animal control laws will be unfairly punished by this legislation, and many well-behaved dogs of the targeted breeds will be mercilessly and needlessly killed. Meanwhile, irresponsible owners will continue to make problems for their communities regardless of whether they own a breed targeted by this legislation or not. A better use of taxpayer funds would be concentrating animal control efforts on irresponsible dog owners who do not adequately care for or control their animals, and on individual dogs whose behavior demonstrates that they are a problem for their community. This will ensure that all well-behaved dogs of the targeted breeds will not be exterminated by the State of Montana. We respectfully ask that you support responsible dog owners by opposing any breed-specific legislation. Sincerely, We the petitioners


Montanans Against Breed Specific Legislation

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