Bad dogs or bad dog laws?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1995:

“Our Potentially Dangerous Dog ordin
ance is under serious attack here in Portland,”
reports Multinomah County Animal Control director
Dave Flagler, whose online screen name is Dog Byte
1. “There is a move to test the constitutionality of the
ordinance because the ordinance requires that some
behavious warrant the destruction of the dog.”
Leader of the opposition Gail O’Connell Babcock
argues that, “The current law does not accurately
identify dogs who truly represent potential hazards to
the community. MCAC should no longer be permitted
to serve as police, prosecutor, and judge,” in
dogbite cases. “The law should be revised to empha
size rehabilitation and training. Mediation should
precede any contested hearing. If mediation fails, the
dispute should be resolved in a real court, not a kangaroo
court.” Other players in the dispute, both
members of the Portland Animal Control Advisory
Committee, include Patti Strand and Roger Troen.

Strand, who favors the current law, is author of the
anti-animal rights tome The Hijacking of the Humane
M o v e m e n t, and founder of the National Animal
Interest Alliance, which supports dog-breeding, animal
use in laboratories, hunting, and trapping.
Troen was in 1988 convicted of accepting white rabbits
removed from the Oregon State University laboratories
by the Animal Liberation Front and releasing
them beside a busy road. He now heads Rat Allies,
a group formed to defend the interests of rats, and is
trying to urge Portland toward adopting an approach
to animal control modeled after the San Francisco
Adoption Pact.
Chicago’s proposed new dangerous dog
ordinance moved to City Hall on September 13 for
final debate and passage, after it was approved by
the City Council Budget Committtee. Similar to the
ordinance in effect in Portland, the Chicago proposal
would allow animal control to designate as dangerous
any dog about whom repeated complaints are
received and investigated, or who has bitten,
attacked, or even threatened humans and/or other
animals. Dogs classed as dangerous would have to be
kept behind six-foot fences, muzzled when not confined
to their owners’ property, and insured for
$100,000 liability. Already, sponsoring alderman
Lorraine Dixon has amended the proposal several
times to help insure that dogs aren’t victimized by
bogus complaints called in by feuding neighbors.
The insurance requirement is also at issue, since
some homeowners’ policies are void if the owner
keeps a dog of certain “dangerous” breeds––and those
may include very popular breeds, for example
German shepherds, as well as the handful of breeds
for which there is demonstrable elevated risk.

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