TEXAS dog owners,
as i posted a few weeks ago, the state house committee was considering HB 1355, or the “big dog bill”.
THIS BILL HAS BEEN PASSED.
if you are the owner of a bully breed, or other commonly misunderstood big dog such as dobermans, boxers, rottweilers, and german shephards, you are at risk. hear what the American Kennel Club had to say:
AKC’s Texas federation, the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance, has serious concerns about this bill, especially regarding the provision that a first-time offense would be considered a felony rather than a misdemeanor. The RPOA urges all concerned Texas dog owners to voice their opinions…
this provision means that owners can be jailed for up to 20 years for a first-time offense. according to Jeff Shaver, spokesman for the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance of Texas, “Potentially, any time anybody’s dog gets out and bites or breaks the skin, they could go prosecute you,” said . “You’re placing dog owners, even if it’s an accident, on the same level as felonies such as manslaughter, rape and sexual assault…”
there is still time to fight this bill – now known as Senate Bill 411 (SB 411), opponents of the bill are strongly encouraged to contact their state representative and voice their disapproval.
i have provided a list of the Texas State Representatives here.
interestingly enough, the state of Ohio ruled that local and state breed-specific “vicious” dog laws were unconstitutional as far back as 2006. WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING IN TEXAS? the Ohio Appellate Court stated, “such laws do not provide owners with an opportunity to appeal a “vicious” dog finding before being penalized or charged with non-compliance, thereby violating their right to be heard and to defend their property“, in accordance with the Ohio Supreme Court in 2004. The Appellate Court stated two more important reasons for their decision:
First, the Court ruled that the laws violated an owner’s right to equal protection since there is no rational basis to single out pit bulls as inherently dangerous. It stated that breed-specific laws “have in the past been enacted based on outdated information that perpetuates a stereotypical image of pit bulls.” The Court found no new evidence to prove that these breeds are any more dangerous than others. Regulating or limiting pit bull ownership was therefore “arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory.”
A final important ruling was the Court’s determination that these breed-specific laws were unconstitutionally vague due to the fact that there is no accurate way to properly identify a pit bull. “Based on the facts presented,” wrote Judge William Skow, “we conclude that the subjective identification of pit bulls may often include both non-pit bulls or dogs which are not vicious, to the extent that an ordinary citizen would not understand that he was breaking the law and which would result in the occurrence of arbitrary arrest and criminal charges.”
these epiphanies of the Ohio courts should serve as a lesson to the Texas Senate in regards to this bill. you can read the entire article behind Ohio’s decision here. cities in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, and Louisiana have also rejected or repealed BSL due to “lack of evidence”.
finally, i encourage dog owners in Texas to send your representative an e-mail with your sentiments, and perhaps even give your appeal a face and attach a photo of your dog. an e-mail takes just a few minutes, and i spend much more time on research and writing these articles – give your pet and yourself a voice!
please click on the title of this post, and copy the URL and send it to someone you know who loves or owns the dogs at risk, so they can be informed and take action. if you wish to get more involved in this fight, feel free to contact the RPOA: