Possible Oklahoma dog breed ban stirs controversy

If Oklahoma State Senator Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) has his way, cities across the Sooner State could have the ability to discriminate against and even ban dogs for their breed.

Oklahoma’s SB 32 allows governing boards to “restrict the ownership of any breed of dog.”

While other states and municipalities across the country have decided against adopting Breed Specific Legislation, Anderson believes that Oklahoma towns should have the option of outlawing specific kinds of dogs.

“Under current law, it is illegal for communities to pass ordinances that would prohibit the ownership of certain breeds of dogs within their community,” Senator Anderson explained.

Oklahoma Senate Bill 32 could change all that, and Anderson says that change would be for the better. He tells NewsOn6.com that many city leaders feel that some breeds are inherently more dangerous than others, so passing this bill is a matter of public safety.

“You hear about dog attacks on occasion,” Anderson says, “so I’m sure there are other communities that have had this issue before.”

Owners of so-called “bully breeds,” however, are rallying against SB 32. They believe, though the bill’s language is vague, Anderson wrongfully intends to target dogs of a particular type.

“It’s a backdoor way to ban Pit Bulls,” dog owner Sherry Stinson told NewsOK of Anderson’s proposal. Stinson, who rescued and adopted a Pit Bull Terrier named Xena three years ago, has created a petition opposing Oklahoma SB 32 in hopes that Governor Mary Fallin will take notice. So far, it has accumulated over 8,000 signatures.

“If we would stop the cruelty that we see going on — the chains, the people who think it’s OK to just dump it out and leave it,” Stinson urges, then a lot of the problems Anderson alludes to in his support for SB 32 would be solved. “It’s not just Pit Bulls. It’s responsible dog ownership that will stop the problems you have and enforcement of current laws that are already on the books,” Stinson explains.

Oklahomans against SB 32 are quick to point out that, if Anderson’s proposal should pass, thousands of responsible dog owners and their four-legged friends could be affected.

“The vast majority of the population has dogs living in their homes and they do consider them part of their family,” Central Oklahoma Humane Society President Christy Counts told KOKH FOX 25 News. “You’re attacking people’s family members when you’re putting out a bill like this.”

Anderson denies allegations from SB 32 opponents, saying that a city could ban any breed of dog they wished — not just Pit Bull Terriers.

“All we’re doing is allowing the local cities and towns to make those decisions on a local level,” Anderson maintains. “We’ve had situations where children and adults have been severely injured or killed by certain breeds of dogs.”

“If they don’t want Poodles, I guess they can bring it before the city council and vote not to have Poodles,” Anderson quipped.

While Senator Anderson insists his proposal isn’t specifically about banning Pit Bulls, he does admit to holding serious reservations about the breed.

“Pit Bulls make me nervous,” Anderson said. “I wouldn’t want them around my children. My bill’s not designed to go after any breed in particular, but my personal feeling about Pit Bulls is I wouldn’t own one.”

The Senator has already heard from many critics of BSL who insist irresponsible owners are to blame for creating the vicious dog stigma that has been placed on Pit Bull Terriers. But Anderson isn’t buying it.

“I don’t doubt their sincerity in that,” Anderson says of the impassioned pleas he’s heard in favor of the much-maligned breed, “but clearly we have an obligation to protect citizens.”

Oklahoma legislators could discuss Anderson’s proposal as soon as February 4, when officials gather for the first session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature. Residents of Oklahoma and dog lovers around the world are encouraged to make their voices heard on this issue, and contact the state’s Senators.

Sources: KOKH FOX 25 News, NewsOK.com, News9.com, FOX23.com, Legiscan.com/OK