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LETTER: Breed-specific laws aren't best approach

To the Editor:

The concern expressed by The Daily Republic's editorial board is understandable, but misguided. The public should be protected against any dangerous dog regardless of breed or appearance; however, the recommendation to ban a specific breed misses the mark entirely.

Any analysis of dangerous dog incidents, including Denver, reveals that focusing on a particular breed or breeds does not advance public safety. Denver's per capita dog bite hospitalization rate is higher than nearby cities that allow pit bulls in the city.

The truth of the matter is that dangerous dogs don't just fall out of the sky and start chasing people. Prior to any such incident, most potentially dangerous dogs are known within the neighborhood and usually allowed, if not encouraged by owners to develop anti-social behavior.

Banning pit bulls simply means that these same individuals will acquire another large, powerful dog and do the same thing -- allow or encourage the dog to develop dangerous behaviors and habits.

The only way to advance public safety with respect to dangerous dogs is to adopt breed-neutral, proactive dangerous dog ordinances that address problem behaviors of dogs and their owners, long before such behavior devolves into menacing or attacking a human or another animal.

Such breed-neutral ordinances are more effective in protecting the public, less costly to enforce and less disruptive than knee-jerk breed bans that unfairly punish responsible owners and well behaved dogs.

Francis Battista is co-founder of the Best Friends Animal Society.