VERO BEACH — The Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County(HSVB & IRC) is asking the public to contact state legislators and voice opposition to HB 543/SB 1276, which would allow local governments to pass breed specific regulations just short of outright breed bans.
Such legislation labels certain dog breeds as dangerous and may permit muzzling, extreme confinement or special licensing, yet fails to consider responsible pet owner practices. Breed specific laws have been prohibited in Florida since 1990, however some communities such as Dade County have grandfathered legislation. The proposed legislation passed the Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee on March 4 and is expected to be heard by two other committees.
“If passed, this legislation will put responsible owners and their dogs at tremendous risk,” said HSVB & IRC Director of Outreach Ilka Daniel.”Targeting a specific breed places the focus on the breed rather than the real issues contributing to dog aggression. Proven methods to reduce aggression include sterilization, tethering/chaining restrictions as well as proper socialization and training. These issues directly relate to the dog owner rather than the breed of dog.”
Daniel’s assertion that failure to sterilize is directly linked to dog aggression is supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which states that close to 76 percent of reported dog bites involve unsterilized male dogs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that unsterilized dogs are 2.6 times more likely to bite than dogs that are spayed or neutered.
In addition, most serious attacks involve dogs owned by people who have either not socialized their dogs at all, or have intentionally trained their dogs to be aggressive.
“If passed, this legislation would make entire breeds of dogs the victims rather than placing the onus on irresponsible dog owners,” Daniel said.
According to Daniel, The HSVB & IRC has contacted state legislators to offer alternative wording that would focus on sterilization, licensing, anti-chaining and tethering. The Humane Society encourages individuals to contact legislators to oppose House Bill 543 and Senate Bill 1276.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist