Proposal would allow Oklahoma cities to ban dog breeds

Opponents say conditions, not the breed, have more to do with aggressive behavior in dogs.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: January 16, 2013 at 10:15 pm •  Published: January 17, 2013

Anderson said he didn't think that would be a problem.

“If a city does this and then they try to enforce it, then sure they might run into that issue, but that's going to be a decision that a local community needs to make and I don't think it's directly relevant to my legislation at all,” he said.

Anderson said his proposal would allow city officials to deal with dog breeds the same way they handle other animals. For example, the Norman City Council last year passed an ordinance allowing residents to own laying hens but it prohibits roosters.

“I don't think that there's really a difference between banning a certain breed of dog versus banning a certain type of chicken,” Anderson said.

Stinson's petition says Anderson's bill goes against America's values.

“In America, every citizen who follows the safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog he or she chooses,” it states.

Stinson, who rescued her pit bull terrier, Xena, about three years ago, said she would like lawmakers to consider beefing up penalties for dog owners who abuse their animals.

“If we would stop the cruelty that we see going on — the chains, the people who think it's OK to just dump it out and leave it,” she said. “It's not just pit bulls. It's responsible dog ownership that will stop the problems you have and enforcement of current laws that are already on the books.”

Under the proposal, cities could ban a dog breed even if that breed wasn't involved in an attack or any hostile behavior.

“This just would give local control to the communities to decide if they didn't want a certain breed of dogs in their community,” Anderson said. “It is not specifically about pit bulls. It's about giving local government the ability to put restrictions on what type of animal is housed in their community.

“All we're doing is allowing the local cities and towns to make those decisions on a local level,” he said. “We've had situations where children and adults have been severely injured or killed by certain breeds of dogs. If a community is concerned about that and don't want those types of dogs in their community, they ought to have the right to speak out on that and keep those animals out.”

Stinson said the media have tarnished the breed's reputation.

“A pit bull attack makes headlines, it makes the six o'clock news; a Labrador attack doesn't,” she said. “It creates an atmosphere of fear. … Any dog can bite. And if a dog is not trained, if it's not socialized, if it's not taught, then what do you expect?”

Molly Gibb, of Oklahoma City, who uses her pit bull terriers for search and rescue and patient therapy work, said Anderson's proposal is a step backward.

The American Bar Association last year urged the repeal of breed-specific provisions and instead focusing on the behavior of dog owners and dogs.

“We are seeing breed discriminatory laws being repealed,” she said. “They're being reversed because they don't work.”

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