North Carolina legislators file dog breed restriction bill

A bill introduced Tuesday in the North Carolina House of Representatives aims to designate six “aggressive” dog breeds and to regulate the ownership of those breeds and breed mixes.

The Perro de Presa Canario would be one of the six dog breeds covered by North Carolina’s House Bill 956.

House Bill 956 classifies the Rottweiler, Mastiff, Chow Chow, Perro de Presa Canario, Pit Bull (including the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier), and all wolf hybrids as aggressive breeds.

When asked by why these particular breeds of dog were singled out, House Bill 956 co-sponsor Representative Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenburg) says, “I don’t want to say those were the ones with the most incidents, but they were the most prevalent by the feedback that I’ve gotten.”

Rep. Moore explains that the ideas in his bill are rooted in the complaints of a concerned North Carolina resident from his district.

“You know, [there are cases of] owners being irresponsible with the dogs, not training the dogs, and having no accountability or little accountability after an incident would occur,” Moore says.

Rep. Moore says he has gotten some flack from animal welfare organizations and other anti-Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) activists, but he remains firm in his feelings in favor of targeting certain breeds.

“Some dogs have aggressive natures,” Moore insists. “I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about it, saying I’m trying to blacklist these dogs, and that’s not the intent. It’s just to let people take responsibility for owning those breeds because they’re good dogs — all of them — but they have the potential.”

Moore insists HB 956 is primarily aimed at curbing irresponsible dog ownership.

Owners or prospective owners of dogs who fall under any one of these breeds or are mixes “that are predominantly of” those breeds would be subject to certain restrictions and stipulations under the proposed legislation, including criminal background checks and the required notification of their property insurer. Prospective owners of aggressive-breed dogs would also have to apply for a $25 state license and take a four-hour education course before adopting, purchasing, or “otherwise taking possession of” one of the regulated dog breeds.

These criminal background checks would be conducted by their local county sheriff’s office and the results would be sent to the Department of Insurance, who would be given the task of deciding who could and could not own one of these “aggressive” dogs. Anyone whose background check “is not suitable for the ownership of a dog belonging to an aggressive dog breed” would be automatically denied the required license.

If the proposed legislation should pass, these new regulations would take effect in January 2014.

“If you have a person who acted irresponsibly in the past, and they have this type of animal, it’s a pattern that they would probably replicate,” Rep. Moore says. “Then, the dog could be harmed or put someone else in a dangerous situation.”

For more information about North Carolina House Bill 956, the full text is available online. Anti-BSL group Bless the Bullys encourages North Carolina residents who have concerns about the bill to politely voice their opposition by contacting their state representative. Contact information is available on the North Carolina General Assembly website. A petition urging lawmakers to stand up against Breed Specific Legislation in the state of North Carolina is also making the rounds online.