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A bill that forbids local dog breed bans is approved by the Iowa House - Iowa Capital Dispatch

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    Local governments in Iowa would not be able to ban specific dog breeds such as pit bulls or Rottweilers under a bill passed Tuesday by the Iowa House.

    House File 651 passed the House on a 82-16 vote. The bill targets cities and counties that prohibit certain dog breeds for the perception that they pose a higher risk of aggression. The bill’s floor manager Rep. Jacob Bossman, R-Sioux City, said the bill encourages local governments to “instead focus their ordinances on responsible dog ownership.”

    According to a “Pit Bull Rights” website, 72 Iowa localities ban pit bulls, and several more restrict ownership or declare the dogs “dangerous” or “vicious” in their local ordinances based on breed. Other breeds such as Rottweilers, wolf-dog hybrids and Doberman pinchers are also banned or restricted in some Iowa cities and counties. The city of Fairfield labels pit bulls, Doberman pinchers, Rottweilers, German shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Siberian huskies, malamutes and dogs over 100 pounds as “dangerous animals.”

    Lawmakers discussed prohibiting local dog breed bans in 2021, but the bill did not advance. In this year’s subcommittee meetings, animal rescue and care advocates spoke in support the bill, but local government officials said the legislation will prevent Iowa communities from making their own decisions on how to keep residents safe.

    Bossman said 75% of veterinarians say breed-specific bans should not be in place. The American Veterinary Medical Association states breed bans are not an effective way to prevent dog bites and attacks, and the ordinances do not address the issues linked with higher aggression in dogs, including being unneutered or not properly trained or socialized.

    “They state that the vast majority of negative occurrences are the result of how the dog is cared for,” Bossman said. “This bill will allow Iowans to responsibly own the dogs of their choice, live where they choose, and will instead focus ordinances on dogs that have problems rather than specific breeds.”

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