Best Friends Blog

Nevada AB 110 is signed into law

As I have stated numerous times in this blog, the best way to protect the public from bites or attacks by dangerous dogs is through proactive dangerous dog laws that target dangerous dog behavior and reckless dog owners before a bite incident occurs. The least effective way to protect the public from dangerous dogs is to ban breeds or types of dogs on the assumption that only certain breeds or their mixes pose a risk to public safety.

I know this for a fact because I am typing this blog entry with a bandage on my right index finger that protects nine stitches I got recently for a nasty dog bite that I received from our corgi mix, Joe-Joe, an ungrateful little so-and-so, whom I rescued from the streets Los Angeles. As a matter of interest, we also have a pit bull terrier and a German shepherd, two breeds often targeted in breed-discriminatory legislation (BDL) measures. I could have sought to protect myself by muzzling or otherwise banning to the backyard Barney and Q — the aforementioned usual suspects — but that would not have protected me from little Joe-Joe who reminded me that all dogs have teeth, all dogs can bite, and all dogs can do serious damage.

With the passage of Assembly Bill 110 that was signed into law today by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, the state took a major step forward in public safety and animal protection by making sure that the Joe-Joes of the world won’t skate by while innocent, well-behaved “likely suspects,” such as Barney and Q, get railroaded into the slammer or forced to walk in head gear more suited to Hannibal Lecter.

AB 110, which was spearheaded by Best Friends and sponsored by Nevada State Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, modifies the state’s existing proactive dangerous dog law to prohibit the passage of local ordinances that declare a dog dangerous or vicious based solely on the breed of the dog.

Breed-discriminatory laws don’t advance public safety because a dog’s breed is not predictive of behavior — to wit: Joe-Joe. Laws based on breed create a false sense of security and distract enforcement efforts from identifying and controlling dangerous behavior and waste time and taxpayer money in rounding up or monitoring members of a particular breed, most of whom are just well-behaved family pets — i.e., Barney and Q.

BDL comes in a variety of forms from an outright ban of a particular breed, such as Denver’s ban on pit-bull-terrier-type dogs, to laws that require certain types of dogs to be muzzled in public, to ordinances that prohibit the adoption of certain breeds to the public from municipal animal shelters, such as Miami-Dade’s ban on pit bulls. Of course, if a dog cannot be adopted from the shelter, he or she is killed.

BDL is incompatible with no-kill principles and the achievement of a no-kill community because in each of its variants, BDL increases the shelter killing of the targeted breed either by simply discouraging ownership with nuisance requirements, by banning their adoption from shelters, or by banning outright their ownership by the public.

The best way to combat local breed-discriminatory laws is to make sure that they never get passed in the first place, and that’s just what was accomplished with the passage of AB 110.

Hats off to Assemblyman Ohrenschall, Governor Sandoval, our terrific volunteer lobbyist, Beverlee McGrath, and Best Friends ever-vigilant pit bull initiatives team under the leadership of Ledy VanKavage.

And, FYI, Joe-Joe is fine, but I definitely need to renegotiate his household membership contract. As for the reckless owner, I’ll have to have a word with the person in the mirror.

Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society