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USA BSL updates: Oregon enacts new dog laws

SALEM, OREGON: IN A welcome change to the usual breed specific laws passed by cities and states across the USA, Senators in Oregon have passed a new law punishing owners of dangerous dogs, rather than targeting specific breeds of ‘types’ of dog, thus punishing the deed and not the breed.

Owners of vicious dogs will face stiffer penalties under a new bill passed by the state legislature. Senator Ryan Deckert introduced Senate Bill 844 to combat the recent increase of vicious dog attacks. The bill now goes to the State Governor for signature.

"This bill will allow victims of dog attacks to hold dog owners more accountable for their dogs' behaviour," said Deckert. "It will impose more severe penalties on dog owners who choose not to control their animals and who create a dangerous environment for children and others in our neighbourhoods."

Last year in the city Aloha, a 7 year-old boy was seriously injured by a dog whose owner was cited twice in eight months for the dog's behaviour. The bill’s clauses:

l Make dog attack penalties uniform throughout the state.

l Defines as "potentially dangerous" a dog that, unprovoked, injures a person or domestic animal. If a court determines that a dog is potentially dangerous and the dog again injures a person or property, the dog's keeper is subject to Oregon public nuisance laws

l Defines as "dangerous" a dog that, unprovoked, seriously injures or kills a person. In the case of serious injury, the dog's keeper is subject to a maximum $6,250 fine, one year in jail, or both. If a dangerous dog kills a person, the dog's keeper is subject to a class C felony with a maximum $125,000 fine, five years in jail, or both

If a dog is determined to be "dangerous," the dog is illegal to own in Oregon.

Glen Bui of the anti-BSL campaign group Washington Animal Foundation (WAF) welcomed the new laws saying: "It is pleasing to see that senators in Oregon have listened to our advice and have drafted laws which punish the deed, not the breed, as breed specific legislation is all too often used as a quick fix for bad behaviour – and the responsibility should lie squarely with the dog’s owner. Why should owners of other dogs be penalised merely because of their looks and not their temperament?"