There are quite a few state-level laws that are moving forward, and here's a quick update on where the bills are. There is certainly a lot of momentum for the laws that favor NOT singling out particular breeds of dogs and in favor of behavior-based legislation.
In Maryland, the state House of Representatives UNANIMOUSLY approved a bill, HB 78, that overrides a 2012 court decision that increased liability for pit bulls because they were presumed "Inherently dangerous". The new law puts all dog owners on equal footing and makes all owners of dogs that bite equally liable under the law.
The fact that this passed by a vote of 133-0 is pretty telling. In partisan politics, there are very few things both parties can agree on, let alone ALL 133 delegates agreeing on the same thing. It's also important to note that several of the major pit bull bashers flew to Maryland to testify against this bill and still persuaded exactly no one to vote in their favor.
The bill now moves to the Senate to be heard there.
In Sante Fe, the state House of Representatives overwhelmingly supported a bill that makes it illegal for local municpalities to pass laws targeting specific breeds. New Mexico would become the 14th state to ban laws targeting specific breeds. Massachusetts passed similar law last year. The New Mexico bill passed with 77% of the vote, 48-14.
Originally the bill would have kept all cities from passing breed-specific laws, however, some modifications to the bill would allow the state's 11 home rule cities to target specific breeds if they want. It also allows the state's only two cities that currently have breed-specifc laws (Elephant Butte and Tijeras) to keep their laws. However, the law would prevent the other 120 incorporated cities in the state from targeting specific breeds.
I should also note that most of the opposition to the bill seems to be centered around the idea that the big state government is being overly-involved in local affairs and not because anyone necessarily thinks breed-specific laws are a good idea.
The bill now moves onto the Senate.
In Connecticut, HB 6311 was proposed and it would also prohibit towns from addressing dangerous dogs in a breed-specific manner. Public testimony was supposed to take place yesterday on the bill. The author of the bill, Rep. Diana Urbana, notes that it is important to realize that dogs can still be labeled as dangerous, but that bred can't be the criteria.
This is all outstanding progress for the dogs, dog owners, and the public in this country. The sooner people realize that targeting dangerous dogs based on dangerous behavior, and not what they look like, the better we'll be able to use resources to target dangerous dogs (and negligent owners).
I'll continue to keep people periodically up to date on these laws and if you live in these states, please contact your state representatives and senators to encourage them to support these bills. For more regular updates, follow Bless the Bullies either on their blog, or on Facebook, as she posts updates as they happen.