Greensboro, NC - A criminal background check, state license, and completed education course: is that really necessary to own a dog? A North Carolina lawmaker says 'yes.'
Representative Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg, introduced a bill to the General Assembly last week that would regulate ownership of aggressive dog breeds.
According to Moore's legislation, "aggressive" breeds include Pit Bulls, Rottweiler, Mastiff, Chow, Perro de Presa Canario, and wolf hybrids.
If the bill passes, a person would not be allowed to take ownership of an "aggressive" bread unless they get a criminal background check, enroll in at least a four hour course to learn about these dog's temperament. The required course must also teach requirements for responsible dog ownership. The interested dog owner would also have to notify their homeowners or renter's insurance policy and apply to the Department of Insurance for a special permit to own an aggressive breed dog.
Click on HB 956 to read full version of the bill
WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower
spoke with people who are in favor and opposed to this legislation.
As director of the Guilford county animal shelter, Marsha Williams sees 50 to 100 new pit bulls a week.
"Some are aggressive because they've been trained that way," explained Williams. "I don't believe the problem is the breed; I believe it is how the breed is raised."
That's what a recent proposal is trying to address but advocates like Jeremy Williamson and Vanessa Kearney say responsible dog owners are the ones who will be affected.
"I don't think everyone should be targeted for what a few bad apples have done. Address the apples," said Jeremy Williamson, The Merit Pitt Bull Foundation.
"Any animal with teeth can bite. And who is going to police or monitor everyone going through responsible dog ownership classes?" said Vanessa Kearney, The Merit Pitt Bull Foundation.
A required course is only one part of the proposed legislation. It also would require a criminal background check.
"Having you know a background check to own a dog, I don't know how, I have mixed feelings about that," said Marsha Williams, Director, Guilford County Animal Shelter.
"I'm fine with a criminal background check however, is that really going to rule out the people that are being malicious with their dogs? Or being irresponsible? No," said Kearney.
"I'm all in favor of legislation that targets irresponsible owners that put our community in danger," said Williamson.
Jeremy Williamson and Vanessa Kearney run an organization, The Merit Pit Bull Foundation, to educate people on all dog ownership, not just aggressive breeds.
They have 10 Pit Bulls because they rescue them from places like the Guilford County Animal Shelter that do not adopt out full bred Pit Bulls.
This proposed legislation is awaiting action in the House Rules Committee.
WFMY News 2