American Humane Applauds Colorado Law Holding Dog Owners Responsible

American Humane Association
Wednesday, 21 April 2004

The American Humane Association today applauded Governor Bill Owens for signing into law new legislation holding dog owners liable for their dog's actions, even if it is a first attack.

Effective immediately, the new law also prevents communities from banning certain breeds and nullifies Denver's ban on pit bulls. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Debbie Stafford (R-Aurora) and Sen. Mark Hillman (R-Burlington).

"We are thrilled with the prohibition on breed specific legislation and are thankful to Rep. Stafford and Sen. Hillman for sponsoring the bill. Dog bites are a public safety and health issue, especially for children, but in our opinion blanket discrimination against specific breeds is an ineffective form of dog bite prevention," says Joan Casey, American Humane's spokesperson for Colorado animal legislation.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, each year more than 4 million people are the victims of dog bites. Children under 15 years of age are the most common victims, especially young boys between the ages of five and nine.

"As the only national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals, American Humane is a strong proponent for legislation that protects communities from dangerous animals. We are pleased to see Colorado legislators making such a strong commitment to public safety," adds Casey.

American Humane's position on breed-specific legislation

American Humane understands that any breed of dog can bite, and as such, believes that breed-specific legislation does not effectively protect the community from dangerous animals. Legislation banning particular breeds can unnecessarily discriminate against dogs that are not dangerous, and does little to protect the community from dog bite incidents. Such legislation can often have unintended consequences, such as black market interest, indiscriminant breeding practices, and subsequent overpopulation issues. Additionally, there can be confusion when dealing with "mixed-breed" dogs, which can make legislation difficult to enforce. Therefore, American Humane supports local legislation to protect communities from dangerous animals, but does not advocate laws that target specific breeds of dogs.

About American Humane

Founded in 1877, American Humane is the only national organization dedicated to both child and animal protection. Headquartered in Denver, with regional offices in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, American Humane provides national leadership in the development of programs and policies, empowering child and animal protection professionals with valuable information and support resources.

For more information, or to contact American Humane Association, see their website at:

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