Bill supports "aggressive" dog breeds
JEFFERSON CITY – A new bill up for hearing Wednesday night is fighting against the discrimination of what some consider aggressive dog breeds, usually pit bulls.
Rep. Ron Hicks, R–Dardenne Praire, is continuing his six-year battle to pass legislation not condemning dogs for their breed.
Hicks said pit bulls have always been given a bad rep in the past and continue to be thought of in a bad light.
“We need to start making laws that will be stricter on the individual, not on the animal,” Hicks said. “The animal is not to blame here.”
Hicks' bill would require that dogs not be banned or prohibited from certain areas based on only their breed.
HCS HB 297 states, “However, a village, town, city, or county can still regulate dogs within its boundaries, so long as the ordinance, order, policy, or regulation is not breed specific.”
“Nothing changes,” Hicks said. “The cities, counties, and townships can still make laws that have to deal with their leashes and animals roaming the street. And it is up to us to come up with stiffer laws, some stronger laws…Let’s just not make them breed specific.”
Michelle Casey, the associate director for Central Missouri Humane Society, said the definition of aggressive dog breeds would differ with every person asked.
“We don’t do DNA testing at our shelter, so even if an animal has the appearance of a pit bull-type dog, landlords or insurance companies that insure that landlord, may reject that dog, just based on its appearance,” Casey said.
Casey said from the greater Mid-Missouri area, the most popular type of aggressive breed or "bully" breed of dog the shelter takes in is the pit bull. It also receives German Shepherds or Rottweiler breeds.
According to the website, Dogsbite.org, a study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, "In the 13-year period of 2005 to 2017, canines killed 433 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 66 percent (284) of these deaths."https://www.dogsbite.org/reports/13-years-us-dog-bite-fatalities-2005-2017-dogsbite.pdf
The founder of that site, dogsbite.org, said she published the site after she was attacked by a pit bull.
According to a Colorado study, dog bites from larger breeds are more often reported as compared to smaller breeds. An article from DVM 360 magazine states, "Because of this, the percentage of bites from large breeds will be overestimated, and the percentages of bites from small breeds will be underestimated."
Local Columbia pit bull owner, Dion Webster, said he couldn’t see his life without his loveable dog, Stella.
“She greets me every day with a smile when I come home from work,” Webster said.
“I think there’s a lot of stereotypes that go along with pit bulls that aren’t necessarily true,” Webster said. “I know when we moved here, it was really hard for us to find somewhere… I think it’s just unfair that they get that, because every dog is different.”
Hicks said he thinks it’s too late in the legislative session for this bill to go farther, but he plans to file it again next year.
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story did not clearly explain information and mistakenly attributed statistics to the dogsbite.org. website. The research originates from a Colorado study in DVM 360 Magazine.