S250, a bill to prohibit canine ear cropping in Vermont, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday and now moves to the full Senate. The bill was amended slightly to clarify that owners will not be penalized if they have their dogs’ ears cropped in another state, where the practice is legal. The new version also includes references to Vermont veterinarians’ general support for the bill, as well as a list of countries that currently ban ear cropping to lend support.
Many other disturbing provisions in S250 remain the same, however. Under the bill, owners who crop ears in Vermont would still face a civil penalty of up to $3,000 for a first-time offense. Those who commit subsequent violations, or those who perform the procedure without anesthesia, would face criminal charges. S250 does not prohibit owning, showing, buying or selling a dog with cropped ears, nor does it prohibit licensed veterinarians from performing ear cropping procedures for ?therapeutic purposes.? However, according to the bill, prevention of ear infections will not be considered therapeutic.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Michael Antonovich to draft a breed-specific ordinance imposing breeding restrictions and mandatory spay/neuter of all “pit bulls” and Rottweilers. The ordinance is expected to be discussed at the February 14th meeting. Concerned dog owners should contact their supervisor and ask him or her to oppose these restrictions in favor of a dangerous dog law which targets irresponsible owners, and not specific breeds of dog.
Prior to the passage of SB861 in 2005, state law specifically prohibited local governments from enacting any breed-specific ordinances. SB861 allows local governments to enact only breed-specific mandatory spay/neuter ordinances.
Enactment of a breed-specific ordinance in Los Angeles or any other county would be devastating to responsible dog owners, particularly purebred fanciers who participate in conformation dog shows and responsible breeding programs. Many owners of these breeds are extremely responsible, yet breed-specific regulations may prevent these owners from freely interacting with, showing, breeding or performing pet therapy with their dogs. Shelter costs could also skyrocket under this ordinance as citizens abandon pets that have been targeted due to breed.
This type of legislation does not promote public safety, as owners who choose to be irresponsible with their animals (allow them to run loose, train them to be aggressive) will simply select new breeds to handle irresponsibly. In the 80’s, people owning Doberman, German Shepherd, or Husky dogs faced similar controversy. In the 90’s, it became the wolf-hybrid and the pit bull. By outlawing one or two breeds of dog, we allow legislation in that will eventually cause prejudice against most breeds of dog.
Rather than spending time and money with breed-specific laws, such things should instead be invested into teaching people about responsible dog ownership, enforcement of leash laws, and public education campaigns.