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Advocacy Group: Don't Demonize Dog Breeds Like Pit Bulls

Bettie Page Styled, Flickr

Two weeks ago, President Obama came out against so-called breed-restrictive legislation – essentially policies against certain kinds of dogs.

Breed restrictive legislation - policies tied to specific dog breeds - is a big issue here in Wisconsin as many communities have them or are considering such laws.  The laws tend to call for the breed owners to put up a fence, muzzle their dog, and to get extra insurance.

They’re a priority issue for the animal advocacy group Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals. Director Kathy Pobloskie refers to these laws as "breed discrimination legislation." She says they usually stem from a knee-jerk reactions to one event that happened in a neighborhood. The rationale for this type of legislation is to protect the community, but Pobloskie says these laws are not effective.

Pobloskie says communities throughout the state have discriminatory laws against certain breeds of dog. Currently, nearby areas that have some form of breed discrimination legislation include: city of Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, Cudahy, and St. Francis.

Additionally, Waunakee, in Dane County, has a city-wide ban on pit bulls, the current “demonized” dog breed, she says. The ban is not fully-enforced until somebody complains about a neighbor having a dog. Once the complaint is registered, the owner has a certain number of days to find the dog a new home. As a result, a Waunakee pet owner is having to decide whether to move or give up her beloved dog.

Pobloskie’s organization strives to get rid of these laws for several reasons. On the animal welfare front, it will help humane societies bring down their euthanasia numbers, since people are more willing to adopt animals with no restrictions. Owners also will have fewer kenneling, housing and vet problems.

Getting rid of such laws will also save the taxpayers' money from being spent on policing laws that are difficult to enforce. For example, Milwaukee's ordinance says people of small stature cannot walk the targeted breed. Pobloskie says it is hard to identify the breed since many dogs are mixes.

The WVCA says it usually takes action in response to city councils considering such laws. In the future, the organization wants to go to the state to pass a law forbidding this kind of legislation.

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