On April 7, 2007, I appeared on MS NBC News at 11 and 1 PM because Minneapolis lawmakers are thinking of amending the city’s “dangerous dog law.” I believe that the existing Minneapolis laws are sufficient. What is missing is the will, the officers and the budget for enforcement.
The dog bite epidemic flourishes because of not only irresponsible dog owners, but also underenforcement and ineffective dog laws. The pending legislation in Tennessee, for example, is necessary because the state’s dog laws are a hundred years old, are patterned after English law of the 1600s, and have been criticized by the state’s own appellate courts. (See Tennessee on Dog Bite Law for further reading and to help pass the four bills.) Minneapolis has the right laws, but ineffective enforcement of them.
Compare the Minneapolis law with the South St. Paul law. As you will see, the former is detailed and inclusive, while the latter is rather basic and restrictive. In other words, the Minneapolis law is sufficiently nuanced to be fair to all interests, and yet broad enough to catch the bad dogs and their bad owners. But this takes animal control officers, budget, and the resolve to strictly enforce the law.