Earlier this week, Massachusetts state legislators listened as animal advocates, including representatives of both the Massachusetts and American Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a spokesperson for the insurance industry discussed Bill H 918. Filed by democrat, Anne Gobi, Bill H 918 would prevent insurance companies from being able to increase a person’s homeowners insurance premium, deny an individual liability coverage and cancel a person’s homeowners policy because he or she owns a certain type of dog in the state of Massachusetts.
While the list can vary by insurance carrier, insurance companies that choose to refuse to issue a policy, increase a contract’s premium or cancel a homeowners policy because a person owns a particular breed of dog tend to base their decisions on a list of dogs that have been identified as “dangerous” for various reasons. If a company uses a list of restricted dogs, the list will generally include the following types of dogs as well as canines that are mixed with any of the following breeds: Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, American Pit Bull Terrier, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Wolfdogs, also known as Wolf Hybrids.
You might be wondering what a person charged with the responsibility of reporting news about animal welfare in Wisconsin is doing writing about a bill that may or may not become law in a state that is hundreds of miles away on America’s eastern seaboard. Well, I’ve chosen to write about this subject because, to-date, no other state has passed a bill that protects homeowners from being discriminated against because of their pets.
Regardless of the type of pet you own, please contact your elected officials and encourage them to pay attention to the conversation that has been generated thanks to Bill H 918. If the bill is passed in Massachusetts, the state’s law could easily serve as a template that other states, including Wisconsin, can emulate to protect homeowners from discrimination within their respective boundaries.