Over the past couple months, several local governments have been tackling the issue of how to protect their communities from dangerous dogs. This has led to discussions about breed-specific laws, and an increased interest in considering mandatory spay/neuter laws.
Too often clubs do not get involved in breed-specific law discussions unless they feel their breed could be targeted. But the truth is, no breed is immune. This was illustrated last month when, in response to a child’s death, the Detroit City Council President recommended mandatory sterilization of any dog over 35 pounds or 18 inches in height.
Increasingly, AKC GR is finding that localities are considering mandatory sterilization as an approach to address dangerous dog concerns. In late September, for example, Prince George’s County, Maryland, introduced a proposal that would finally repeal a breed ban that has been in place for almost two decades – a move that AKC and our federations strongly support. However, other new provisions in the proposal as introduced would allow the new Commission for Animal Control to impose mandatory sterilization for any animal control violation. A similar proposal was introduced last week in Fairfield, Ohio. Fairfield’s measure would have potentially removed long-standing breed-specific laws and replaced them with a spate of new laws, including mandatory sterilization for any infraction – including the use of a retractable leash or a dog getting loose even one time.
The Fairfield, Ohio, proposal failed by one vote, and Prince George’s County is amending their proposal for consideration in November. At this time, the Detroit proposal has not gained any traction.
So, what can clubs do? The increase in dangerous dog proposals demonstrates the desire to promote responsible dog ownership and protect the public. Unfortunately, it also shows there is a pervasive misunderstanding about sterilization and a need for education on the many dangers of mandatory spay/neuter laws.
Your local government needs to hear from you! Many of these proposals were developed in conjunction with concerned citizens. Elected officials need to know they have dog experts and breeders in their community. AKC GR has a broad range of tools to help you with this, located in AKC’s online Legislative Action Center (www.akcgr.org). The AKC Legislative Toolbox includes sample letters on key issues and introducing your club to your lawmakers. Be sure to also visit the Key Issues pages, where you can find background and talking points on many policy issues, including breed-specific legislation and mandatory spay/neuter.
Keep an eye out as well for our Legislative Alerts for the latest information and activity around the country. Also, if you hear of an issue, let us know! AKC GR often learns about local issues from dog owners who see a news report or come across an article. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you to address issues that arise in your community.