Dog breeds have gotten a lot of conversation during this year's state legislative session. The House of Representatives yesterday passed a bill that would prohibit local governments from banning any specific breed of dogs.
Supporters say its unfair to prevent responsible people from owning certain kinds of dogs. They believe owners should be held responsible for the behavior of their dogs instead of banning specific breeds.
Opponents say this is an issue of local control. They believe local governments should have the authority to place their own restrictions on dog breeds.
I've been critical of the legislature for trampling local control this session. For instance, lawmakers voted to require the Pledge of Allegiance to be said daily in schools. They responded to one local situation that has already resolved itself in favor of the pledge. Lawmakers are simply trying to make themselves look good.
However, in this case, it seems to me that legislators are moving to protect the rights of individuals. They wish to make certain that dog lovers aren't denied the opportunity to own certain breeds of dogs.
There's no question that some dogs are dangerous. However, I've seen many mean and nasty dogs that didn't belong to one of the "dangerous" breeds. In almost every case, the problem was with an owner that didn't understand or take time to train the dog.
The last vicious dog attack that generated headlines in Sioux Falls involved several rottweilers. There were immediate calls to ban the breed.
However, the investigation showed that the owner allowed the dogs to run loose and unsupervised. The owner had previously been cited for the same offense, yet never changed his ways.
The problem with dangerous dogs doesn't lie in the breed. It lies with slob owners who don't take responsibility for their animals.
Let's be tough on the offenders instead of punishing all dog owners for the crimes of a few.
Greg Belfrage (@belfrageshow) is heard 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.