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Breed Specific Dog Laws Gone In South Dakota

July 1, 2014, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser


South Dakota cities that had laws in place to ban pit bulls or other dog breeds don't have those laws anymore.

A state law prohibiting breed specific dog ordinances went into effect Tuesday.

In the small town of Leola, five dog breeds had been banned since 2008. At that time, the city held an election and close to 80 percent of voters in the northeast South Dakota community approved the ban.

"It worked really well. I think we had things pretty well under control and seemed to be what the public wanted," mayor Dean Schock said.

With the new state law taking effect, that ban is gone and people can bring a pit bull, Rottweiler or other previously banned breed into town. Schock wants cities to decide what laws it has in place when it comes to animals in town.

"We have a lot of time and effort into it. We ended up having a few communities call us and contact us once we had our ordinance in place, wanting a copy of it so they could look at it and probably work it into their program," Schock said.

Leola is in Rep. Charles Hoffman's district. The Eureka republican supports the state law. Close to 55 percent of the state senators and 60 percent of the representatives supported it as well.

Hoffman says the law is fair.

"You can't just go and say specifically pick out the few people that own Rottweilers or pit bulls or any other breed of dog," Hoffman said.

Hoffman calls the law a bipartisan effort with a republican senator and a democrat representative introducing it in Pierre this year. He also argues it protects people's rights and will lead to a focus on owners, not dogs.

"I think at the end of the day what we're going to find is that it's all based upon the owner's responsibility,” Hoffman said.

Leash laws in Leola require owners to contain and license their dogs. Schock says the city will wait and see if it needs to pass any other requirements now that its ban on certain breeds is gone.

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