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Bill restricting local laws targeting specific dog breeds survives House committee

Published: Saturday, Aug. 1 2015 8:53 p.m. MDT

This Friday, Jan. 28, 2011 photo shows pit bulls playing together at the Sepulveda Basin Dog Park in the Encino section of Los Angeles. A bill that seeks to restrict local laws targeting specific dog breeds made it through a House committee Monday by the skin of its teeth.  (Richard Vogel, Associated Press) This Friday, Jan. 28, 2011 photo shows pit bulls playing together at the Sepulveda Basin Dog Park in the Encino section of Los Angeles. A bill that seeks to restrict local laws targeting specific dog breeds made it through a House committee Monday by the skin of its teeth. (Richard Vogel, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that seeks to restrict local laws targeting specific dog breeds made it through a House committee Monday by the skin of its teeth.

In a crowded committee room of interested community members, including two pit bull service dogs, the House Political Subdivisions Committee voted 6-5 to recommend HB97 to the full house.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, received more than an hour of debate centered on local control, property rights, public safety and breed stigmatization.

The majority of views expressed were that such ordinances, currently on the books in 10 Utah cities, are poor. However, some committee members were concerned about the idea of dictating to cities that the ordinances be prohibited.

Additional opposition to the bill came from South Jordan, the largest city in Utah that restricts specific dog breeds. Pam Rasmussen, a South Jordan animal control officer, said it's the severe bite of pit bulls that makes them more dangerous than other breeds.

People in favor of the bill cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation against breed-specific laws and said there are dogs within every breed that can be aggressive.

"There are less restrictive alternatives," King said. "What most cities and towns do is deal with it on a dog by dog basis. That’s the smart, good way to deal with this. The few cities that choose otherwise are trying to paint with an overly broad brush by breed alone."

— Madeleine Brown

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