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Dog breed specific legislation bill hearing in Wash. state Jan. 16

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On Saturday, Jan. 11, the Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation announced that a hearing on a Washington state breed specific legislation bill is scheduled for Jan. 16.

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 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.

A hearing on HB 2117 is tentatively scheduled before the House Judiciary Committee at 8:00 am on Thursday, Jan. 16. The hearing will be located in House Hearing Room A in the John L. O'Brien Building on the state capitol campus in Olympia.

“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.

Animal advocacy organizations, including Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation (Save Washington Pets) encourage people to support this bill by testifying at the hearing, submitting written testimony to the committee, or both.

If you plan to attend this hearing, confirm that the time, date, and location have not changed. View the committee's hearing schedule here.

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.

Read more about breed-specific legislation and Keep the Bull Breed Free here and here.

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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