On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation (Save Washington Pets) announced that the House Judiciary Committee will be meeting this Thursday, January 30, to vote on an important bill for the animals.
House Bill (HB) 2117 proposes to prevent the use of a dog's breed as a factor in banning or classifying it as dangerous or potentially dangerous.
The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on the bill during its 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. session on January 30. If the bill has enough votes to pass, it will move to the House Rules Committee. If it doesn't have enough votes, the bill will likely not receive any further attention in the 2014 legislature.
The bill states:
(1) A number of local jurisdictions have enacted ordinances prohibiting or placing additional restrictions on specific breeds of dogs. While the legislature recognizes that local jurisdictions have a valid public safety interest in protecting citizens from dog attacks, the legislature finds that a dog's breed is not inherently indicative of whether or not the dog is dangerous and that the criteria for determining whether or not a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous should be focused on the dog's behavior.
“Breed-specific” legislation (BSL) relates to laws that attempt to regulate or ban certain breeds completely in an attempt to reduce dog attacks. Currently, there are between two and three dozen cities in Washington that have ordinances discriminating against specific dog breeds.
The bill further states:
The legislature further finds that breed-specific ordinances fail to address any of the factors that cause dogs to become aggressive and place an undue hardship on responsible dog owners who provide proper socialization and training. The legislature intends to redirect the focus away from particular breeds and to instead encourage local jurisdictions to employ more effective and data-driven prevention models to control dangerous dogs and enhance public safety.
Breed-specific legislation is problematic: it is expensive and difficult to enforce, affects property rights, and can lead to the euthanasia of dogs with no history of aggressive behavior.
Worldwide, some city and municipal governments have enacted breed-specific laws completely banning certain breeds, such as pit bulls. The story of Lennox, who had been deemed an illegal "pit bull terrier type" dog in Belfast, Northern Ireland, affected animal rights activists across the globe.
Lennox's family fought to save their beloved dog, launching a two-year legal fight. During that time, Lennox remained imprisoned and separated from his family. Animal rights protests erupted on both sides of the Atlantic.
And despite the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Lennox supporters, he was still euthanized.
The response to BSL and breed discrimination has been immense: Groups such as Keep the Bull Breed Free emerged to advocate for "bully" breed dogs, including pit bulls.
HB 2117 is an important animal welfare bill preventing the use of a dog's breed as a factor in banning or classifying it as dangerous or potentially dangerous.
About Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation (Save Washington Pets):
Save Washington Pets is the name of the campaign to pass companion animal spay/neuter assistance legislation in Washington State. It is a trade name of the Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the passage and effective implementation of humane animal welfare laws, regulations, and policies in Washington State and to educate the public about animal welfare issues.
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