Cutting Through the Nonsense
St. Paul, MN - It’s unlikely a proposal to ban certain dog breeds in Minnesota will become law. Dog owners -- some of them unable to see beyond the snouts of their dangerous pets -- are organized enough to derail the bill. But the debate about dangerous dogs and their owners is worth having.
Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, new bill proposal has generated a discussion that can shed light on a growing problem with dangerous dogs and owners who are drawn to those breeds. His bill targets rottweilers, pit bulls, chowchows, Akita and wolf hybrids. All, he says, are breeds that are inherently dangerous, no matter who owns them. He speaks from experience. He’s a St. Paul city attorney who has prosecuted several dangerous dog cases.
Owners of the targeted breeds counter with a tiresome, routine argument: It’s not the dogs, it’s their owners. No breed, they contend, is dangerous unless made so by an irresponsible owner.
Yet, incidences of injury or death from dog attacks most frequently involve the dogs on the legislator’s list. While there certainly are exceptions, rottweilers and pit bulls are not perceived as gentle pets -- and for good reason. Some owners of those breeds like them because of their aggressive traits. It’s not coincidental that where dog fighting is legal, rottweilers and pit bulls are among the favored fighters.
Lesch’s proposal is in the formative stage. He said he’s not sure whether he’ll call for an outright ban or for stricter regulation of the breeds. Minnesota already has a dangerous-dog law, but it’s not breed-specific. Indeed, the law says cities cannot regulate dogs based solely on breed. That’s where Lesch wants changes. Responsible dog owners should have no problem with tougher regulation of dangerous dogs, including harsh penalties for owners.