Keep Certain High-Risk Breeds Away from the Wrong People, Places and Situations

There are four points of view about whether the efforts to deal with the dog bite epidemic should focus on breeds of dogs (for example, should there be breed specific laws that restrict or ban pit bulls). These points of view include: nothing needs to be done about breeds, communities should concentrate on educating the usual victims of attacks but should not pass breed specific laws of any kind, dangerous breeds should be restricted, and dangerous breeds should be banned.

The best solution would be to ban pit bulls and their mixes, as well as similar breeds such as Presa Canario, Cane Corso and others (see the list given at Dog Fighting). There is literally no justification for the continued existence of these animals. Pit bulls are the primary canine killers of people, and death comes violently, painfully and without warning. They also are the primary killers of other people’s pets and horses, to the tune of more than 40,000 per year. If you love your family and your dog, you should support all efforts to eliminate these breeds. See Pit Bulls: Risks and Solutions. Short of banning these animals, we must pass laws that would keep high-risk breeds away from the wrong people, places and situations.

Additionally, we must eliminate the “one bite rule” throughout the nation, require insurance as a condition for ownership of certain types of dogs, toughen the dog control laws, criminalize any failure to stop a dog attack in progress, and keep dogs of certain breeds, size or weight away from the wrong people, places and situations. Here are the specific measures:

  • Ban certain people from owning a pit bull and any similar breed (i.e., minors, convicted drug dealers, convicted felons, convicted dog fighters, people convicted of violating the leash laws, people whose dogs have been adjudicated as being dangerous on a dog-by-dog basis, people whose dogs have bitten children).
  • Ban animals that are not domestic dogs at all. These include the wolf-hybrid and the dingo, both of which are very dangerous when not properly socialized, trained and maintained. In 2006, a dingo that came to work with a construction worker brutally mauled and broke the skull of a 2-1/2 year old boy who was next door in a day care center (read article).
  • Ban pit bulls and certain similar breeds from certain places (i.e., day care centers, multi-family dwelling buildings, dense urban areas, dog parks, parks and beaches). The federal government allows restrictions or prohibitions of animals in public housing, based on the size and type of building. See 24 Code of Federal Regulations section 960.707 (Pet Ownership).
  • Require the sterilization of pit bulls. The nation’s shelters are overwhelmed by pit bulls, and one-third of the entire pit bull population of the USA is euthanized every year. There are far more pit bulls than stable homes for them, and yet pit bull owners sterilize only about 25% of their dogs, as opposed to the 75% sterilization rate for other breeds. Note that this will not eliminate the breed but only maintain it at numbers that the fanciers of this animal can handle.
  • Require the leashing and muzzling of pit bulls and certain similar breeds at all times except when in the owner’s home while the owner is present and no guests or children are present. It should only be permitted in public when it is on a 4 foot leash wearing a secure muzzle designed to prevent biting. When guests or children are present at home, require that the dog be confined in a dog run with a floor, four sides, and a roof, secured with a lock.
  • Require at least $100,000 in insurance for covering injuries inflicted by pit bulls and similar breeds (i.e., Ohio requires insurance at this time for owners of pit bulls).
  • Increase civil damages if a pit bull or a dog of a similar breed injures a person (i.e., the victim will receive double or triple the usual amount of compensation if the dog is of a certain breed).
  • Impose increased criminal penalties if the breaking of a law is accomplished with a pit bull or a dog of similar breed.
  • If a pit bull is at large, the injuring or killing of it shall be presumed to be an act of self-defense in any any civil or criminal action, and the person who so acted shall not be held civilly or criminally liable for carrying, displaying, or using a weapon, or committing animal cruelty, or violating any other law.

For further discussion, see Breed Specific Laws, which is another section of Dog Bite Law