The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 18, 2013

SB 32 would allow municipalities to ban dog breeds

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

— A bill that would allow municipalities to ban dogs by specific breed has its author in the dog house with pet owners and animal advocates.

Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, said Senate Bill 32 was filed at the request of a constituent. With about 2,400 bills filed this legislative session, he said he doubts the bill will ever be heard.

SB 32 would allow the governing board of any municipality to restrict the ownership of any breed of dog by residents residing in that municipality.

Anderson said he’s received some less-than-favorable comments from dog owners about the bill, some even saying they wanted to pass legislation banning anyone with the last name of Anderson.

“It’s not a priority of the Legislature,” Anderson said of the bill. “It’s going nowhere.”

Some people have claimed the bill was an attempt to allow cities to ban pit bull terriers. Such breed-specific legislation has failed in the state before, but SB 32 has pit bull advocates and owners up in arms. Others said the laws already in place need to be enforced, instead of banning specific breeds, such as pit bulls.

An online petition to “Kill SB 32” had 6,925 signatures by Friday afternoon.

“The thing is they look mean, they look scary and people mistreat them to make them more aggressive,” said Enid SPCA Shelter Director Vickie Grantz. “They’re highly sought after for people with highly undesirable activities in their homes.”

She said some pit bulls are used for security, not cared for as pets, and are conditioned to be aggressive.

“I think there are other things we can do besides banning breeds. I think there are other avenues we could take along the line of protecting the environment of the dog,” she said. “You’re going to have a much more mentally healthy dog.”

Dog breeds are not the problem, Grantz said, the pet owners are the problem.

“If we can find a way to make people responsible pet owners, we wouldn’t need laws to outlaw breeds,” she said. “It’s not the dog, it’s the owner.”

Pet owner Nicole Winfield has two dogs and used to foster other dogs. She said she doesn’t own a pit bull, but does own a large-breed dog, and feels breed-specific bans are unfair.

“It’s not fair to classify dogs because of what breed they are,” she said. “It’s all in how you raise your dog.”

She said if city commissioners passed an ordinance banning her dog’s breed, she’s not sure what her family would do.

“I think we’d move,” she said. “My dog is my family member.”