The Obama administration has outwardly expressed support against breed-specific dog legislation.
The White House released a statement last week, entitled “Breed-Specific Legislation Is A Bad Idea,” as a response to an online petition requesting legislation that would target dogs by breed. The petition garnered over 30,000 signatures. While the administration’s statement does not speak for the entirety of federal legislative efforts, it speaks in no uncertain terms about the administrations position on breed-specific laws.
“We don’t support breed-specific legislation—research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources,” reads the statement. “In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at twenty years of data about dog bites and human fatalities in the United States. They found that fatal attacks represent a very small proportion of dog bite injuries to people and that it’s virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds. The CDC also notes that the types of people who look to exploit dogs aren’t deterred by breed regulations…As an alternative to breed-specific policies, the CDC recommends a community-based approach to prevent dog bites. And ultimately, we think that’s a much more promising way to build stronger communities of pets and pet owners.”
The most commonly targeted dogs in breed-specific legislation are pit bulls. Lisa LaFontaine, president of the Washington Humane Society and pit bull owner herself, expressed excitement over Obama’s statement.
“The White House is such a bully pulpit for important issues,” LaFontaine said. “And certainly for them to come down against this type of discrimination I think will give pause to any communities that are thinking about putting something like this in place, and certainly will fuel the work that’s already being done by advocates to overturn legislation that already exists…it’s a really happy day.”
One area of particular concern to LaFontaine and other advocates is the widespread pit bull bans enforced on military housing and bases in the United States.
“I really, really hope that the military takes note that the Commander in Chief has made this statement about there being no place for breed-specific legislation,” she said. LaFontaine added that “there is nothing more difficult” than seeing families separated from their loved pets because of breed-specific legislation.