Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/01/1993 01:00 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 242:  VICIOUS DOGS: NO CLASSIFICATIONS BY BREED                           
  Number 020                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 242, testified                 
  by reading his sponsor statement into the record.  (Copies                   
  of this sponsor statement may be found in the House                          
  Community and Regional Affairs Committee Room, Capitol Room                  
  110, and after the adjournment of the second session of the                  
  18th Alaska State Legislature, in the Legislative Reference                  
  Number 048                                                                   
  MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, testified in support of HB 242.  (A                     
  copy of this testimony may be found in the House Community                   
  and Regional Affairs Committee Room, Capitol Room 110, and                   
  after the adjournment of the second session of the 18th                      
  Alaska State Legislature, in the Legislative Reference                       
  BONNIE STRATTON, ALASKA DOG COALITION, testified via                         
  teleconference in support of HB 242 saying, "Alaskans have                   
  long embraced the rights of individuals.  We believe HB 242                  
  will promote nondiscriminatory laws that protect the rights                  
  of individual responsible dog owners while punishing                         
  irresponsible owners of vicious dogs.  House Bill 242 will                   
  ensure Alaskan communities will have laws that focus on                      
  controlling all vicious dogs, rather than overly-narrow                      
  ordinances that would only deal with a specific breed.  When                 
  HB 242 becomes a statute, it will not conflict with any                      
  currently existing laws in Alaska."                                          
  MS. STRATTON continued, "Non-breed specific laws better                      
  serve the public because they control all dangerous dogs,                    
  not just those of a specific type.  Breed specific laws have                 
  been found to be unconstitutionally vague in other states.                   
  They have also been an indication for court challenges and                   
  expensive litigation..."                                                     
  DEBI RICHMOND, ALASKA DOG COALITION, testified via                           
  teleconference in support of HB 242.  She said, "Identifying                 
  dogs that have been deemed dangerous is very important for                   
  children in all neighborhoods and the public in general.                     
  Children at play go over fences, into yards, up to strange                   
  dogs without thinking.  Having a visual alert in the form of                 
  a collar and signs on houses or fences may trigger a child                   
  to stop and avoid becoming a victim..."                                      
  Number 184                                                                   
  similarly via teleconference in support of HB 242.                           
  LAURA LOVE, CERTIFIED MASTER DOG TRAINER, testified from                     
  Kenai in support of HB 242 saying, "We really like the idea                  
  of having warning signs and collars which identify a                         
  dangerous dog..."                                                            
  Number 219                                                                   
  testified in favor of HB 242.  She said, "This bill is not                   
  breed specific.  It allows the identification of dog                         
  behavior problems, eliminates breed identification problems,                 
  encourages owner responsibility and will not conflict with                   
  any existing laws in any of Alaska's communities.  We                        
  believe that any legislation dealing with dog behavior                       
  problems should be based on that dog's behavior, not based                   
  on the breed of the dog.  A breed specific law will not                      
  cover all instances of dangerous or vicious dogs, as this                    
  bill does."                                                                  
  MS. PETERSEN continued, "Laws and regulations which attempt                  
  to solve dog behavior problems based solely on branding a                    
  specific breed as vicious, have earned the police and animal                 
  control officers a difficult task of attempting to identify                  
  these breeds.  Many dogs are impossible to identify with any                 
  degree of accuracy..."                                                       
  GAILE HAYNES, CAPITAL KENNEL CLUB, testified in support of                   
  HB 242 saying, "It (HB 242) gives full power to communities                  
  to protect themselves against individual dangerous dogs and                  
  their irresponsible owners without limiting the rights of                    
  proper and responsible owners to keep animals without                        
  unnecessary legislative interference..."                                     
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE pointed out, "I have had more support                   
  on this bill than any issue that's come before me this                       
  session."  He then demonstrated the "dangerous and vicious                   
  dog" collar and signage pertaining to HB 242.                                
  REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS asked, "How does this affect the                    
  Anchorage muni (municipality)?                                               
  DR. BASLER said, "To my knowledge, at this point, it (HB
  242) would not have any impact on the Municipality of                        
  Anchorage...  The mayor's advisory commission on animal                      
  control, I believe, has written a letter in support of this                  
  REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked, "Representative Bunde, have you                 
  had any reaction from the mayor on this specific legislation                 
  (HB 242) or the assembly?"                                                   
  Number 336                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, "No, I have not, only through                     
  their counsel and advisors on dog (issues).  I have a copy                   
  of the current Anchorage Dangerous and Vicious Dog Ordinance                 
  and it's not breed specific..."                                              
  REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS said, "To your knowledge then, this                    
  would not in any way impede whatever ordinances they might                   
  want to consider."                                                           
  Number 347                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, "They couldn't, under this                        
  statute, then institute breed specific.  It would have to be                 
  similar to what Anchorage has done in that they are simply                   
  dangerous or vicious dogs and you wouldn't (need to)                         
  identify (the breed of dog)..."                                              
  DR. BASLER added, "I would note there are nine states around                 
  the country which currently have prohibitions very similar                   
  to this already on the books...  A second thing is, the                      
  National Animal Control Association, which is the trade                      
  group representing people in animal control, is on record as                 
  favoring nonbreed specific and opposing any breed                            
  Number 375                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES said, "I appreciate the thrust of                 
  this bill (HB 242)...however, the concern...that was                         
  expressed on the other side of the issue is that there were                  
  certain breeds...where the dog may have the characteristic                   
  of having a particularly harmful bite.  There are dog bites                  
  and then there are dog bites.  Some dogs...are reputed to,                   
  when they bite, do a lot more damage than other dogs."                       
  Number 390                                                                   
  DR. BASLER said, "I certainly have read the jaw per square                   
  inch pressure pit bull studies and things along those lines.                 
  I guess my own personal feeling as a veterinarian is that,                   
  basically, it relates to the size of the dog.  Anything                      
  that's big can potentially cause as much damage as a pit                     
  bull.  Any other breed of dog...is going to create the same                  
  type of rip and tearing.  It's not inherent in any one                       
  REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS asked, "Are you telling the                     
  municipality what to do and what not to do?"                                 
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, "That is correct, that they                       
  cannot establish a breed specific..."                                        
  Number 409                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS said, "I have a difficult time with                  
  that, Mr. Chairman, as far as telling a municipality what                    
  they can do and what they can't do on an issue like this...                  
  I'm already having problems with some of the rules and                       
  regulations under Title 29..."                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, "It's an attempt to have                          
  consistency throughout the state...  It's allowing you to                    
  create the laws that you want.  You just can't say, 'This                    
  one kind of breed of dog is going to be classified vicious                   
  automatically just because it's that breed...'"                              
  REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS said, "There are safeguards already                  
  apparently in Title 29, or Anchorage would have an ordinance                 
  in their books."                                                             
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, "No that isn't the case.  They                    
  passed one (but) the mayor vetoed it."                                       
  Number 436                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS said, "That's what I mean..."                        
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG intervened, "It's obvious we're all not                      
  going to agree on this one, as is often the case..."                         
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE MOVED that HB 242 be PASSED out of                      
  committee with individual recommendations.                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES put forth another question.  He asked,                 
  "If this (HB 242) were to pass, would we be able to pass a                   
  law that classified dogs by their physical characteristics?"                 
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, "My understanding, Mr. Chairman,                  
  is more by behavior.  Just because a dog is large, doesn't                   
  mean it's a vicious dog."                                                    
  Number 460                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES clarified, "The concern that has been                  
  expressed...is that certain dogs by their physical                           
  characteristics have the potential to be much more damaging                  
  than some smaller...and you may want to have laws applying                   
  to a whole range of dog characteristics that might exhibit                   
  the potential for damage."                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, "No...you can't condemn a dog                     
  until it has done some antisocial behavior.  It's a question                 
  of constitutionality."                                                       
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "We have leash laws.  That                       
  sounds like a prior constraint."                                             
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said, "A leash law keeps the dog off                    
  other people's property."                                                    
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "I don't see any difference."                    
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG referred to Representative Bunde's motion to                 
  move HB 242 out of committee with individual                                 
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES OBJECTED.                                              
  A role call vote was taken.  Representatives Willis,                         
  Williams, Davies, Bunde and Olberg voted YES.                                
  Representatives Toohey and Sanders voted NO.  THE MOTION                     

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