Planning and Development Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6311

Title:

AN ACT PROHIBITING MUNICIPALITIES FROM ADOPTING BREED-SPECIFIC DOG ORDINANCES.

Vote Date:

4/1/2013

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/20/2013

File No.:

572

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Planning and Development Committee

Rep. Lavielle, 143rd District

Rep. Ryan, 139th, District

Rep. Riley, 46th District

Rep. Rose, 118th District

Rep. Grogins, 129th District

Rep. Kupchick, 132nd District

Rep. Hurlburt, 53rd District

Rep. Hennessy, 127th District

Rep. Zoni, 81st District

Rep. Ziobron, 34th District

Rep. Lopes, 24th District

Rep. Simanski, 62nd District

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill is meant to prohibit municipalities from adopting breed-specific dogs ordinances.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

The Department of Veteran Affairs: Kathleen Lazzarini, MD. Dr. Lazzarini supports the passage of this bill because her past research has shown that when BSL is enacted law enforcers are generally educated on how to recognize a pit-bull breed that does not exist. The term pit-bull is used to describe a dog that has a muscular body, big head, short coat and thin tail, there is no pit-bull breed. She believes that law enforcers should be educated about dog behavior/ temperament and how to manage volatile situations rather than how to identify dogs that are no more than a household pet.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Connecticut Votes for Animals: Amy Harrell. Ms. Harrell supports the passage of this bill because it provides an excellent opportunity for Connecticut to help safeguard the rights of well-behaved dogs who have come to be known as “bully breeds” and the people who love them. The behavior of pit-bull type dogs are shaped by their early handling and training. Historically, pit-bulls have been bred and raised to be vicious, but those who escape that handling show their owners their true loving personalities. She states that town ordinances that limit the presence of pit-bulls would constitute discrimination against pit-bull type dogs and the families who love them.

Connecticut Humane Society: Gordon Williard. Mr. Williard supports this bill because towns that pass dangerous dog ordinances based upon breed and bite incident information is more often incorrect than it is correct. More often than not, statistical information about bites relates more to the popularity of a breed rather than the breed itself. There may be more reported bites from that breed but that does not mean that particular breed is dangerous. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that a dog bite depends on five factors; hereditary, early experience, later socialization and training, health and victim behavior. Breed is not listed as a determining factor and reducing the number of dog bites requires a much more comprehensive approach that includes proper reporting, community education and ongoing monitoring.

Representative Brenda L. Kupchick: Rep. Kupchick has given testimony in support of HB 6311. Within her 20 years of experience working with rescued dogs and volunteering in various shelters she has come to realize that Breed Specific Legislation would be very harmful to the breeds it is attempting to control. BSL unfairly targets specific breeds and has limited statistical data to back it up. While pit bulls are targeted by this BSL, they are scientifically less vicious dogs than other breeds. She offers alternatives to BSL such as safety education spay and neuter assistance, breeder regulation, low cost training and stiffer penalties for those who abuse animals.

Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments: John Filchak. The NECCOG supports the passage of this bill because of its experience over the years with more than 400 dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds. The NECCOG has operated a regional Animal Services Program since 2004 and has adopted/ placed/ reunited more than 3,400 animals. Based on their experience they have seen no correlation between the breed of a dog and its propensity to be dangerous or a threat to people. More often than not it is the person responsible for the dog who is responsible for the dogs' dangerous behavior.

Elizabeth B. Gardner: Mrs. Gardner has given testimony in support of HB 6311. She believes that there has been a great deal of misinformation and scare journalism about pit bulls given to the public. Mrs. Gardner owns two pit bulls and says they are wonderful, loving, and gentle animals.

The Human Society of the United States: Anne Hornish. On behalf of the HSUS, Anne Hornish has given testimony in support of HB 6311. The HSUS has found that breed-specific legislation does not enhance public safety or reduce dog bite incidents. Rather than being beneficial to the community, such laws and regulations are costly to enforce and harm families, dogs, and communities. Most breed specific legislation is created as a misguided response to a dog bite incident or attack. There is no credible evidence to prove that one breed is more dangerous than the other. The identifying of breeds targeted by BSL is often subjective and unreliable. Breed Specific Legislation is nearly impossible to enforce and creates unrealistic mandates that take dogs out of homes and into shelters.

Representative Kim Rose: Rep. Rose has spoken out in support of HB 6311 on behalf of Lisa Taylor-Austin. Breed Specific Legislation has been proven not to work and is an emotional reaction to a human, not canine, situation. Pit Bulls are the more abused and euthanized dogs in America today. Society has placed prejudicial notions onto pit bulls when in fact the responsibility should be placed on their irresponsible owners. BSL is costly and only punishes responsible dogs and their owners, it has not been proven to reduce dog bites. Some possible alternatives to BSL are containment laws, abuse prevention, safety education, spay and neuter assistance, breeder regulation, low cost training, and stiffer penalties those involved in dog fights.

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council: Michael P. Maddox, ESQ. The PIJAC supports passage of HB 6311in its current form as it supports the best interest of the people of Connecticut and animal welfare. The PIJAC has been dealing with dog legislation for decades and has observed that measures that selectively target status rather than behavior are highly ineffective in addressing public health and safety concerns. BSL wastes the resources of the public and inappropriately invades the rights of citizens. Behavior experts have reported that the breed of a dog does not dictate its disposition, rather it is the training and care of the animal that determines its tendency towards aggressiveness. Prohibiting the possession of pit bulls will unfairly deprive pet owners of loving animals, but it will not prevent those who desire to own vicious dogs from acquiring other breeds that are just as effective.

Lisa Taylor-Austin, NCC, LPC, LMHC. CFMHE, LLC: Ms. Taylor-Austin has submitted testimony in support of HB 6311. She has written in her testimony that a pit bull is not a breed but rather a catch phrase for three breeds: American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, and the Staffordshire bull terrier. These are the three breeds that are most often singled out by Breed Specific Legislation. BSL has been proven not to work and is an emotional reaction to a human, not a canine situation. Pit bulls are the most abused and euthanized dogs in American today; they are constantly abused, tortured and murdered due to the actions of humans. BSL does not reduce dog bites, it is costly to implement and enforce, and there is difficulty in identify breeds. Breed specific legislation targets breeds, not behaviors. Responsible, trained family dogs are targeted as being dangerous simply because they are alive. The behavior of the breed targeted is not taken into consideration. The law-abiding families who license and train their dogs are punished for owning a dog that appears to be of a certain breed.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Connecticut Conference of Municipalities: Ron Thomas. The CCM believes that the passage of HB 6311 will unnecessarily tie the hands of municipal officials and prevent them from enacting measures that will benefit the health and safety of the community.

Reported by: Peter Murszewski

Date: April 1, 2013