Adverts: 0161 709 4576 - Editorial: 0161 709 4571
Mail Order: 0161 709 4578 - Subs: 0161 709 4575 - Webteam: 0161 709 4567
US ‘breed laws’ to extend to Chow Chows


BREED SPECIFIC Legislation has reared its head in another American State, thanks once again to rules laid down by the powerful insurance cartels, writes Nick Mays. In the town of Bozeman the insurance carrier for two mobile home parks has said it will drop its coverage unless the management bans several breeds of dogs that the company considers dangerous.

Talbot Insurance Agency Inc. President Mary Snyder, whose Kirkland, Washington, company covers the Bridger View and Covered Wagon mobile home parks in Bozeman, said the ban reflects the danger that certain breeds present especially to children.

The company wants the parks to ban Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Dobermanns, German Shepherds, chow chows and wolf hybrids.

Snyder said she loves dogs, but many companies have stopped insuring mobile home parks altogether because they are considered to be high risk, and dogs only add to the danger.

"We're being discriminated against based on what our dogs might do," said resident Rhonda Hoyem, who has a German Shepherd. Park owner Dave Rousher, who owns a Rottweiler, said he wants to be able to keep the dogs, but also must have insurance.

"They backed us into a corner," Rousher said. "If we had some claims against us, they would have a valid argument."

Rousher is seeking help from the Montana insurance commissioner.

Dog owners in the park also are upset because they will have only 30 days to The park requires occupants to own their mobile homes, so the dog owners can't rent out their homes and move elsewhere. Hoyem suggested owners could raise their liability insurance from the $25,000 minimum.

Dog owners also say they would be financially responsible for any injury their dog caused, but Snyder said litigants also would go after the park owners in a lawsuit.

The Washington Animal Foundation Inc. - a Seattle based national non- profit organisation – is planning to take up cudgels on behalf of the mobile home dog owners.

WAF was founded to educate and assist in promoting ethical and responsible ownership of dogs, to actively assist or participate in developing effective Local, State, and National Legislation and to educate on responsible dog ownership and dog bite prevention.

Under the US Constitution 5th/14th amendment dogs are valuable personal property, laws that take away ownership of property (BSL) do not allow for due process of the law. Citizens are entitled to court procedures to determine there right to own and enjoy their property. It is unconstitutional to take away the rights of the citizens of the US unless there is a serious concern for public safety. It would need to be proven that an entire breed of dog is dangerous. There is no genetic proof that an entire breed of dog is dangerous.

There are many problems associated with breed specific ordinances and some of the existing legislation. Such laws fail to address the fact that most problems with dogs are due to irresponsible ownership. Reports from local Humane Societies indicate that the media attention given to the pit bull has actually increased the demand for the breed.
Genetics were the pivotal argument in WAF’s successful case against BSL in the recent Alabama Supreme Court case.

Argument

Both PETA and experts from Huntsville provided affidavits that pit bulls were genetically dangerous, but WAF’s own experts and legal argument proved that genetically, no breed of dog was inherently dangerous.

The recent mobile homes BSL case is yet another example of the powerful sway that the insurance industry wields in such matters. It was insurers which prompted American Airlines to introduce an arbitrary breed ban against pit bulls and several other breeds due to one isolated incident where a pit bull escaped from its cage in the hold of an AA plane on a domestic US flight.

The insurers and airlines did not seek any independent expert advice but seemed to seize upon various breeds which they considered to be ‘dangerous’.