Sunday, June 15, 2008

Good News! Dangerous Dog bill signed into law. BSL dead…for now

The Dangerous Dog bill (HF 2906/SF 2876) was passed by Congress and signed by Gov. Pawlenty on May 15, 2008. The bill makes various changes to Minnesota statutes that regulate the ownership of dangerous dogs. The threat of banning certain breeds of dogs was scrapped early in the legislative process when Rep. Lesch’s bill to ban specific breeds of dogs (a.k.a. BSL) was dropped in favor of Rep. Paymar’s more reasonable answer to a number of dog attacks that received much media attention last year. The final bill provides better enforcement of the current laws and focuses on the owners of dangerous dogs, rather than arbitrarily punishing a specific breed. In fact, the law maintains the prohibition on cities and counties from passing their own breed-specific legislation.

As an added bonus, the bill authorizes cities to adopt ordinances that allow dogs to accompany their owners on patios of food and beverage establishments. Be on the lookout for dog-friendly outdoor restaurant patios!

Some of the bill’s highlights include:
-Increasing the amount of the insurance policy or surety bond owners of dangerous dogs are required to purchase from $50,000 to $300,000
-Mandating Animal Control to sterilize (spay / neuter) dogs considered dangerous, at the owner’s expense. Animal control has authority to immediately seize a dangerous dog if it is not sterilized within the time prescribed by statute.
-Requiring the owner of a dangerous dog to register the dog with Animal Control. In order to have registration approved, dangerous dog owners must post a visible warning sign that there is a dangerous dog on the property, pay an annual fee, have a microchip implanted in the dog, and apply annually for registration of the dangerous dog.
-Requiring owners to keep dangerous dogs enclosed on the owners’ property, or muzzled and restrained by leash, or long chain, and under the control of a responsible person
-Requiring dangerous dogs to wear an easily identifiable tag identifying the dog as dangerous
-Mandating Animal Control immediately seize dangerous dogs that are not properly enclosed or restrained, or whose owners do not properly register the dangerous dog.
-Defining “Provocation” as an act that an adult could reasonably expect may cause a dog to attack or bite.
-Providing increased authority to animal control (rather than a county authority), which arguably is better suited to enforce dangerous dog laws.
-Restricting dog ownership of anyone convicted of dangerous dog-related crimes

To read the entire bill, click here

Special Thanks to Pet Haven Volunteer Sheila G. for helping compile this informaiton.

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