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AKC Urges Utah Gov. to Sign Anti-BSL Law

(Thursday, March 27, 2014)

The Honorable Gary Herbert
Governor, State of Utah
Utah State Capitol Complex
350 North State Street, Suite 200
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220

Re: Sign House Bill 97- Prevention of Dog Breed-Specific Laws

Dear Governor Herbert:

The American Kennel Club (AKC) writes on behalf of our 31 affiliated dog clubs in Utah, as well as the thousands responsible dog owners in the state, to urge you to sign House Bill 97, which prohibits breed-specific dog laws. In doing this, Utah will join 16 other states that have protected the rights of responsible dog owners while also ensuring community safety.

The mission of the AKC is to advocate for dogs as family companions, to advance canine health and wellbeing, to protect the rights of all dog owners, and to educate the public about responsible dog ownership. We believe that all dog owners should be held accountable for the actions of their pets, regardless of the breed they own. For this reason, we support laws that establish a fair process by which individual dogs (regardless of breed) are identified as “dangerous” based on stated, measurable actions and laws that impose appropriate penalties on owners of these dogs. Such laws effectively protect both the safety of the community and the rights of responsible dog owners.

By contrast, breed-specific laws have been proven ineffective throughout the United States and around the world. Breed bans and other breed-specific laws fail to address the underlying cause of dangerous dog issues – irresponsible ownership – and force animal control officers to spend valuable time trying to identify dog breeds, rather than focusing on true animal problems in the community. They also arbitrarily punish law-abiding dog owners simply because of the breed of dog they own. In addition, breed-specific laws commonly force responsible owners to surrender a well-behaved pet to a shelter, where the dog must be cared for or euthanized at taxpayer expense. House Bill 97 recognizes these pitfalls and ensures that communities will devote their resources to addressing the real problem of irresponsible owners and dogs that are truly dangerous, regardless of their breed.

Dog ownership and exhibition has a tremendous impact on the Utah economy. In 2013 alone, over 100 AKC dog shows were held in the state with over 15,000 dogs participating from across the United States. These shows generate significant revenue for local businesses through venue rental, restaurants, lodging, and many other items. Supporting House Bill 97 protects the rights of responsible dog owners and sends the message that they – and other lucrative dog events – are welcome in the community.

We respectfully ask you to allow House Bill 97 to become law and welcome the opportunity to work with the State of Utah to develop public education programs that teach about responsible dog ownership and safety – regardless of breed.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Sheila Goffe
Director, Government Relations

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