Dangerous Breed Legislation

Recently, I have received a number of emails in the form further below.

My reply is that yes, I will vote to protect the breed neutral language that we passed last year.

I am respectful of the comments that the ASPCA has provided on this issue.

The ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence that laws crafted to single out a particular breed as dangerous make communities safer either for people or other companion animals. There is, however, evidence to suggest that such laws are inhumane, unfairly target responsible pet guardians and their well-socialized dogs, and impede community safety and humane sheltering efforts. You and your colleagues correctly acknowledged this by passing S.2192 last year, which among other provisions, promotes statewide vigorous enforcement of existing laws, and breed-neutral laws that focus on the irresponsible and dangerous behavior of individual guardians and their dogs.


I am writing to ask you to oppose any legislation that will repeal the breed neutral language in the new animal control law.

The new law has been in effect since October 31, 2012. It contains a provision to protect public safety by improving the dangerous dog law to ensure it is effective at reducing dog bites from all breeds of dogs. It does not allow ordinances based on breed, which have been shown to be ineffective.

The law offers real solutions, based on real experiences and problems in our communities.

Please oppose any bills that would allow breed-discriminatory ordinances that merely punish good people and good dogs, without enhancing public safety.

The new law has only been active for less than three months; it’s not time to revisit something that was just passed.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

3 replies on “Dangerous Breed Legislation”

  1. Regarding breed-discriminatory ordinances: I have two sweet little dogs, and it is interesting to note that my home owners insurance company will not write an umbrella policy for me if I own any of a rather large number of specific breeds. I point this out only because insurance companies are rather good at figuring out what is dangerous and what isn’t.

  2. Yes, but I think the point of the ASPCA is that it is not the dog breed per se, but rather the treatment, that determines dangerousness.

    The insurers may be making inferences about what the dog breed says about the owner. Many strong dogs are totally sweet if treated the way you treat your dogs. But some people who choose strong dogs may not treat them the way you treat yours.

  3. Hi – I’d just like to respectfully respond to the above post from Sally.

    The ASPCA is not aware of any proprietary data used by insurance companies as a basis for denying the owner of a given dog breed coverage or requiring a higher premium. Insurance companies primarily cite a 15-year old fatal dog bite study by the Center for Disease Control, which got its bite statistics by combing media reports – not by gaining any measure of actual bite data from town, cities or counties.

    Bite data is typically maintained at the local government level, and to compile and vet that information state-by-state is an undertaking that no one has ever been willing to do… and this is complicated further by poor licensing compliance in many parts of the country and well-documented limitations on the ability to visually identify a specific breed of dog.
    So while businesses might have good systems in place for determining risk in other areas, the process here is as arbitrary as the study used as a basis for denial/higher premiums.

    Locally, MSPCA-Angell has reached out to insurance organizations in an effort to establish a better protocol for risk assessment, but with no appreciable success to date.

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