Minnesota is now one of the 12 states that currently bans cities from banning dogs according to their breed but if DFL state Rep. John Lesch has his way, things are going to change. He plans to introduce introduce legislation next year to ban five dog breeds in Minnesota — chow chows, wolf hybrids, pit bulls, Akitas and Rottweilers due to two severe dogs attacks in St. Paul by pit bulls.

Under Lesch’s proposed legislation, anyone owning one of the banned dogs would be subject to misdemeanor charges and face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Two children were recently bitten in St. Paul by pit bulls that had reportedly bitten people before.

“It’s a very sweeping piece of legislation,” Lesch said, adding that one of his colleagues in the House of Representatives, whom he did not name, had been attacked by a pit bull.

Zachary Stephenson, Lesch’s spokesman, said that the legislation will be introduced in next year’s session. Lesch decided to unveil his proposal now because of the recent dog attacks.

“These are all dogs that are known to be aggressive,” Stephenson said.

State law now bans cities from banning dogs according to their breeds.

Earlier this year, St. Paul City Council Member Dan Bostrom urged his colleagues to consider a ban on certain dog breeds. Today, he asked the St. Paul city attorney’s office to prepare an ordinance that would ban specific breeds if the state law is changed.

Bostrom said that Lesch’s proposal makes him feel “vindicated … I think it’s a good idea. I think this indicates that I was absolutely on the right track.” (Star Tribune)

A half-dozen members of a group that finds homes for neglected or abandoned Rottweilers, pit bulls and other nontraditional breeds criticized the proposal as too difficult to enforce and unfair to responsible dog owners.

“I don’t think mass exterminating five breeds of dogs is going to solve the problem of dog bites,” said Kellie Dillner, assistant education director with A Rotta Love Plus.

Dillner said better enforcing existing dangerous dog laws would be more effective than enacting breed-specific bans.

The city of Denver enacted a pit bull ban in 2005. This April, three dog owners filed a federal lawsuit over the ordinance giving them the choice of moving out of the city or giving up their pets to have them put to death. A least 1,110 dogs have been seized and killed under the law, according to the lawsuit’s backers.

Miami and Cincinnati are two other major cities that ban pit bulls, according to the American Canine Foundation.

Minnesota legislators last took a serious look at the dangerous dog issue in 2001. Another St. Paul Democrat, then-Rep. Andy Dawkins, pushed to require microchips be implanted in dogs seized after attacks to keep better track of them. Owners must pay the cost of implanting the chips.

Other law changes required annual registration of dogs labeled dangerous for past attacks. It also spelled out how animal control authorities can go about destroying dogs that inflict “substantial or great bodily harm” on humans. (West Central Tribune)

More and more higher courts are overturning this kind of legislation as unconstitutional for many reasons, one being that it’s prejudicial and another being that cooler and more knowledgeable people are speaking up to the fact that it’s not the dogs, it’s the owners. Certain breeds are not more predisposed to aggression except by breeding and training. Some breeds do require their owners to be hyper-vigilant and more conscientious but to a large degree that is due to media whipping people into a frenzy over dog bites.

Yes, statistics do show dog bites have increased but then again so has the population and the number of dogs, so that is to be expected. The saddest thing is that dogs bites are almost 100% preventable. If people trained and socialized and controlled their dogs, and on the other side, in the case the bite was victim provoked, people stayed out of where they didn’t belong and didn’t antagonize the dog, these problems would be virtually non-existent. To ban specific breeds will only lead to the breeds going ‘underground’ and cause more problems. Responsible owners have never been the problem and they are the only ones the ban will wound up affecting along with the huge number of dogs that will die as a result of the ban!

And if the people who own and train these breeds to be aggressive and vicious can’t get or have these breeds, what are they going to do?  There will be another breed of dog taking its place.  It used to be German Shepherds and Dobermans and now it’s pit bulls.  BSL is not the answer, it just creates more problems in the long run!

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