It’s a better week than most for the pit bull type dogs. In Virginia Judge Herman A. Whisenant, Jr. issued a preliminary injunction barring the county shelter from euthanizing dogs based solely on breed.
The ruling is consistent with an October 30, 2006, opinion by Attorney General Robert F. McDonell that publicly funded animal shelters may not euthanize dogs based solely on breed. The Attorney General’s advisory was based on Virginia law, Sec. 3.1-796.93:1(C) which states "no canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor is the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed prohibited."
The lawsuit was brought by a man who tried to adopt a pit bull from the county shelter but was not allowed to do so because of the dog’s breed. Animal Rescue of Tidewater had joined the suit.
Of course, officials say they will still euthanize pit bulls they determine are dangerous. Between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007, the county shelter euthanized 56 pit bulls. Another 38 were returned to their owners, and one was transferred to another facility. It is not known how many of the pit bulls that were killed were friendly pets.
The ruling is significant because of the many public shelters around the country that have unwritten breed bans where shelter officials refuse to adopt out pit bulls and simply euthanize them. Though the ruling only affects Loudoun County, it is certainly precedent for those planning to challenge unwritten breed bans in states where breed discrimination is illegal. For a list of those states, click here. States That Ban Breed Specific Legislation
In another court victory for the beleaguered pit bull breeds, a Massachusetts appeals court agreed with a trial court that police should not have been issued a "no knock" warrant which allowed them to enter the home of a criminal suspect without knocking. The basis for the warrant was the suspect’s pit bull type dog. Police said basically pit bulls are aggressive and they should not be required to knock out of fear of the dog.
The Court disagreed, ruling police must show the particular pit bull is aggressive, that there is some reason to fear the particular dog besides its breed.