State Senator Chris Cournoyer introduced Senate File 143 and will chair a subcommittee on it later today. The bill prohibits a county or city from adopting, enforcing or administering legislation specific to a dog breed.
Some Iowa cities have banned residents from owning pit bulls.
Cournoyer, a self-confessed canine lover, said she was shown the legislation last summer at a meeting in town. She brought her dog, Blue, with her to the coffee shop.
“They saw what he looked like and said I’m the perfect person to run this bill because this bill could actually impact me with Blue looking the way he looks,” Cournoyer said.
Blue was listed as a husky by the shelter because of his blue eyes. But Cournoyer has been told he has some pit bull in him due to other characteristics.
If her town would institute some sort of pit bull ban, it could impact Blue.
“That hit home for me, the thought of giving up Blue,” she said.
Cournoyer doesn’t believe it is right that cities and counties can slap bans on specific breeds of dogs or perceived breeds of dogs.
She said the idea of families having to give up a companion who had never done anything to anybody is punishing responsible dog owners.
“Dogs are dogs,” she said. “They’re going to bite occasionally if they’re feeling defensive or protecting their family. That does happen.”
She knows because it’s happened to her while out door-knocking for the campaign. In fact, she has been bit twice.
“I’ve been bit by a Cocker Spaniel and I can’t remember the mixes of the other dog, but it wasn’t a pit bull,” she said.
Cournoyer’s legislation will allow cities and counties to have prohibitions on aggressive dogs, but not bans on an entire breed.
“If you’re going to have an ordinance that involves aggressive dogs, it needs to apply to all breeds, not a specific breed,” she said. “We want to keep our communities safe. And if there are dogs out there that are deemed aggressive, regardless of their breed, something needs to be done. But punishing a dog because of its breed or perceived breed based on nothing more than a reputation of that breed is just not fair.”
Cournoyer and her sons watch the show Pit Bulls & Parolees.
“Those poor dogs have come from horrible situations of neglect and abuse and they take them in and provide a caring, loving environment and those dogs turn into really sweet animals when they’re treated well and have responsible people taking care of them,” she said.
She has received many emails in support of the bill and noted just one organization is registered against the legislation.
“I have gotten a lot of support from a lot of organizations across the state – shelters, kennel clubs, veterinarians association, people who just really love their companion animals,” she said. “Companion animal people and dog people are a passionate group.”
As for Blue, he won’t be able to attend the subcommittee, but Cournoyer said she’d love to have him there.
“He’d be on his back wanting his belly rubbed the whole time,” she said. “It would not be a productive day for me if he fell on his back wanting his belly rubbed by everybody we walked past.”