MEDIA CONTACTS:
Eric Rayvid: 917-861-8290 or ericr@bestfriends.org

House Bill 1116 Would Enhance Public Safety, Protect Pet Owners’ Property Rights

JEFFERSON, Missouri — A bill that would stop local government infringement on pet owners’ property rights will be voted on in the general laws committee tomorrow in the Missouri state legislature. As the law currently stands, any Missouri local government can decide what breed of pet dog citizens may own. The bill has been introduced in the Missouri legislature by Rep. Ron Hicks (District 107).

Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends Animal Society, which supports the bill, said the proposed addition to existing law does not change the authority of local municipalities to prohibit dogs from running at large or to control animals with an ordinance, as long as the regulation, ordinance or policy is not specific to a particular breed.

“We want safe and humane communities for people and pets,” said VanKavage. “Breed discriminatory policies are arbitrary, ineffective and a waste of tax dollars. One of our goals is safety, first and foremost, in the most effective and most thorough way possible.

“In America, every citizen who follows the right safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog they choose--it’s that simple.”

The bill, co-sponsored by Kenneth Wilson (District 012), Kurt Bahr (District 102), Nate Walker (District 003) and Bonnaye Mims (District 027) reads:

“Nothing .. shall be construed to limit in any manner the authority of any village, town, or city to prohibit dogs from running at large or to further control or regulate dogs within its boundaries; provided that, no such ordinances, orders, policies, or regulations are specific to breed. Banning any canine based solely on looks instead of behavior doesn't make sense,” VanKavage said.

Studies done by Dr. Victoria Voith show that the breed of a shelter dog is misidentified as much as 75 percent of the time, which results in dogs being banned and often killed by Missouri shelters for no reason other than their appearance.

“Unbelievably some animal shelters would rather kill certain breeds of dogs rather than give them the chance for a loving home. That outdated policy is unconscionable and needs to change,” said VanKavage.

Utah-based Best Friends works with state legislators around the country to prohibit breed discriminatory laws and enact laws that focus on the behavior of the dog and the owner. Many cities are enacting reckless owner ordinances and 17 states now prohibit some form of breed discrimination.

“People should be protected against any dangerous dog, no matter the breed,” VanKavage added. “But it’s also important that we protect abused, neglected dogs from abusive owners. It’s only common sense that both dogs and owners should be judged solely on behavior, not on appearance.”

About Best Friends Animal Society®

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters. An authority and leader in the no-kill movement since its founding in 1984, Best Friends runs the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as life-saving programs in partnership with rescue groups and shelters across the country. Since its founding, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from 17 million per year to about 4 million. Best Friends has the knowledge, technical expertise and on-the-ground network to end the killing and Save Them All®.

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