Rep. Appleton: Ban bad dogs, not “bad” breeds

Washington House Democrats

It’s not often a state lawmaker can introduce a bill and point to the support of the American Bar Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Contol, and the President of the United States . . . but Thursday, Representative Sherry Appleton (D-23rd, Poulsbo) was able to do just that. The legislation in question would stop local governments from branding entire breeds of dogs as killers and banning them from their jurisdictions. It’s a growing practice, and according to the experts, it’s one that punishes conscientious dog owners without actually contributing to public safety.

“Individual dogs of any breed whether they be cocker spaniels, Chihuahuas, Rottweilers and, yes, pit bulls, can be made vicious by irresponsible owners,” Appleton told the House Judiciary Committee during Thursday’s hearing. “But it is wrong to tell responsible owners that they cannot be a member of that particular community because of that particular breed.”

Appleton, who said she has owned Rottweilers, German shepherds and pit bulls without incident, cited studies and position papers by the organizations named above, as well as a recent statement by President Obama, all of which weigh in against breed-bans.

“Vigorous enforcement of dog licensing and animal cruelty laws,” she said, “as well as quick action against individual animals who have proven themselves to be a threat, are more effective at protecting citizens.”

If Appleton’s HB 2117 becomes law this year, Washington will become the 15th state to outlaw discriminatory breed-bans.

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