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Society opposes proposed ban on pit bull ownership in Hawaii


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POSTED: Thursday, February 05, 2009

Question: We recently read that the Hawaii Legislature might hear a bill that bans ownership of pit bulls.

A pit bull is our family dog. Can state law mandate such a thing?

Answer: Yes, it could. And no, government shouldn't target a specific breed as a problem. It's a slippery slope when a community decides to profile aggression by breed, because even the friendliest dog can become aggressive in certain situations.

Thankfully, no state laws currently prohibit specific dog breeds, although some cities do; Denver, Miami and Cincinnati ban pit bulls.

  Q: Does it make sense to ban a breed?

A: While data might attribute most fatal dog attacks to specific breeds, any dog is capable of harming someone. Perception can be skewed by a community's breed-population statistics. Pit bulls are popular in Hawaii. Since there are a lot of them, it is likely to see more cases involving them.

The most important question to ask when considering policies that will affect an individual's right to choose is this: What makes an aggressive or dangerous dog?

Often dogs that are involved in attacks are chained and not neutered. Their need for exercise, discipline and socialization have not been met. Breed bans are misguided, discriminatory policies which ignore the fact that the leading indicator of aggressive behavior is the owner's training and care of the animal. Owners must be ultimately accountable for their pet's behavior.

Across the nation, leaders in animal welfare believe that when it comes to aggression, judge the deed and not the breed.

 

The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.