New law means an end to dog-breed bans in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) The New Year means new laws in Utah. One particular law bans communities in our state from discriminating against a particular breed of dog.

House Bill 97 was passed during the last legislative session.

About 10 communities in Utah had breed restrictions, including banning pit bull terriers within city limits. South Jordan was one of them. After a rally cry from some animal supporters, the city changed its ban back in November. Other cities will now have to follow suit.

"They've never shown any ill behavior to anyone they are both very sweet," said Temma Martin, Best Friends Animal Society spokesperson.

You can see the love between Martin and one of her pit bull terriers, three-year-old rescue dog, Petunia. Now she can live anywhere in Utah with her dogs.

"We've been waiting for this moment to see that people who are responsible with their pets can have any type of pet no matter where they live in Utah, said Martin.

Last year, it was a legislative battle to get the ban enacted. At the helm of the fight was Representative Brian King.

"The more I looked at it, the more I thought this is a bill that has some real merit to it," said King.

The governor signed it into law in April. Thursday, Utah becomes the 19th state in the nation to have statewide ban on breed discrimination.

Martin says this ban doesn't make Utah more dangerous.

But on Facebook, plenty of ABC 4 Utah followers disaggreed.

Andrea Bastias says, I don't like pit bull dogs period.
Gloria Holladay Harward agrees. She wrote, My husband watched one day as our friends pit bull chased and attacked some one''s cow. I don't want them on my property.

Even Martin agrees some pit bull terriers can be dangerous, but it's a pet owners who are at fault.

"There are certainly dogs that are in the hands of irresponsible dog owners who get out and get loose who are trained to be aggressive and they are not neutered," said Martin.

Martin and King agree, those dogs represent a small minority. Despite anyone's opinion the law is now here. Cities will have to abide to the new legislation.

"If they want to say homes with dogs have to have fences if the dog is let out, they can do that. There are things that cities and dogs can deal with certain problems. But they can't target a specific breeds and say they're not able to be owned in that specific city," said King. 

This ban on breed restrictions does not apply to private property, so apartment buildings can still say "no" to certain breeds or sizes.

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