UPDATED 1/27/2015: We are hearing that the committee will not be bringing this bill forward to be heard. It is unclear at this time if this is the action of the full committee or by request of the sponsor. As of February 3rd, the bill will have passed its deadline for the committee to act and will be officially dead. At this time we are removing contact information for the bills sponsors but will be monitoring the situation and calendars extremely closely, so that should HB 1261 be scheduled to be heard, we will be able to alert accordingly. When we have more information or when the bill is either pulled or dead we will update here, as well as issuing a separate alert.
We are not taking the decision to remove contact information lightly and if we did not believe this was credible information, we would not have removed it.
1/25/2015-A state level alert is being issued for the state of Mississippi.
Best Friends Animal Society has discovered that a bill, House Bill 1261, has been introduced that would target dogs resembling pit bulls, including in the definition, American Bulldogs.
The language of the bill:
“BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The provisions of Sections 1 through 6 shall be known and may be cited as the “Mississippi Regulation of Dangerous Dogs Act.”
SECTION 2. For purposes of Sections 1 through 6 of this act, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed below, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise: Dangerous dog means: 1. Any pit bull dog in a class of dogs that specifically includes the
breeds of American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog, and any other pure bred or mixed that is a combination of these breeds.”
The bill creates a list of requirements for owners of dogs designated as restricted and criminal penalties for failure to meet these requirements. Dogs must be muzzled when off the property, secured when on the property either by a kennel or tether. The owner must place a sign on the property alerting the presence of the “dangerous dog,” keep their windows closed in a manner that the dog cannot potentially escape and a person convicted of a felony cannot own a “dangerous dog.”
One thing that stands out is the encouragement of tethering in this bill. The bill specifies that an owner of a “dangerous dog” must “Leash, chain, tie or tether the dog to an inanimate object other than one within a secure enclosure, such as a tree or building.”
The bill gives “law enforcement officers” blanket authority to enter a person’s property in order to check that they are in compliance with the bill.
“In order to determine if there is a violation of this section, a law enforcement officer, at any time, may enter the premises where a dangerous dog is kept, or is believed to be kept, for an on-site inspection of the premises.” (emphasis mine)
This is a costly piece of legislation. The Best Friends fiscal impact calculator estimates the expense of this piece of legislation at almost $4 and a half MILLION dollars a year.
As more and more states prohibit breed discriminatory laws, this would be a huge step back for community safety, and the rights of individuals, as well as starting a potential landslide of even more stringent forms of breed discrimination, such as bans, across the state. We saw this effect in Ohio, when their statewide restrictions were in place.
The language of the bill in general tramples on many constitutional rights in many different ways, as well as allows dogs to be taken and killed off-hand under certain circumstances, regardless as to the actual breed or type of the dog. As usual, we see no thought as to how these dogs will be identified and how people may contest identification, nor is there any understanding for the monumental financial strain this will put on both the state and the dogs owners.
You may view the full text of the bill here: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/documents/2015/pdf/HB/1200-1299/HB1261IN.pdf