Monday, January 12, 2009

A Bill to Kill All the Pit Bulls in Montana

Montana state Rep. Robyn Driscoll, a Democrat who represents the 51st District, has introduced a bizarre bill calling for the elimination of all "pit bulls" from the state. If the bill, H.B. 191, becomes law, owners must surrender their pit bull dogs which must then be euthanized within 10 days.

Those who don't give up their dogs to be killed? Well, any peace officer is authorized to obtain a search warrant and come and get the dog.

The cost of paying animal control and other law enforcement officers throughout the state to round up family pets and kill them will be substantial. A task force found that a pit bull ban in Prince George's County, Maryland, just one county, cost $560,000 in one year.

There are exceptions for pit bulls temporarily in the state, passing through, or attending a exhibition, show or competition "sponsored by a dog club, association, or similar organization". Even for the dog to attend an exhibition, show or competition, the owner must obtain written permission from the county and the sponsor must take steps to "prevent [the pit bull dog] from escaping or injuring the public." The only other exception is for a pit bull wearing a tag indicating it is a registered pit bull, but the registration and tag must have been obtained before the law's effective date. Here is a copy of the bill.

The National Canine Research Council reports that between 1965 and 2008, there were 3 fatalities in Montana from dog bites. Yes, 3 in 43 years. In 2005 alone, just one year in Montana, 1,400 people died from smoking and 251 in traffic accidents. (Maybe Driscoll should work to protect Montanans from smoking and second hand cigarette smoke or negligent or drunk drivers; that would at least be something useful.)

The NCRC notes, "All the dogs involved ... were ...not spayed or neutered....All three cases involved unsupervised children left alone in a yard with unfamiliar dogs (2 cases) or the child wandering off and encountering an unfamiliar, chained dog (1 case)."

The bill, H.B. 191, is now in the House Local Government Committee. Check Animal Law Coalition for updates.

Take Animal Law Coalition's poll on breed bans on this page!


Write or call Rep. Robyn Driscoll and urge her to drop this breed ban. Tell her dogs don't bite because of breed and breed bans don't make communities safe from dog bites. Instead, they penalize responsible owners and greatly increase animal control costs. Send her the information found here. Be polite.

Robyn Driscoll, (406) 534-4874,

Contact the House Local Government Committee by calling Joe Kolman, 406-444-9280

Find Montana legislators and email, fax or call them and urge them to say no to H.B. 191. Here is the fax number for the House: 406-444-4825

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