Raleigh, N.C. — A bill filed Tuesday in the North Carolina House would restrict ownership of six dog breeds and mixes deemed "aggressive."
House Bill 956 would create a new "aggressive dog" classification for pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, chows, Presa Canarios and wolf hybrids, as well as any mixed-breed dogs "that are predominantly of" those breeds.
Asked why he chose those breeds, sponsor Rep. Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg, answered, "I don’t want to say those were the ones with the most incidents, but they were the most prevalent by the feedback that I’ve gotten."
Moore said the idea was brought to him by a concerned constituent.
"You know, (there are cases of) owners being irresponsible with the dogs, not training the dogs, and having no accountability or little accountability after an incident would occur," he said.
Under the bill, prospective "aggressive breed" owners would have to undergo a criminal background check, apply and pay for a special state permit, notify the property insurer and take a four-hour education course before adopting, buying or "otherwise taking possession of" one of the dogs.
"There needs to be some kind of accountability," Moore said. "A lot of people breed them the wrong way. You have very harsh incidents of these dogs maiming children, maiming older folks and sometimes even turning on their owner."
The criminal background check would be run by the county sheriff and sent to the Department of Insurance, which would be instructed under the proposal to deny a permit to anyone whose background check "is not suitable for the ownership of a dog belonging to an aggressive dog breed."
"If you have a person who has acted irresponsibly in the past, and they have this type of animal, they – it’s a pattern that they would probably replicate," Moore explained. "Then, the dog could be harmed or put someone else in a dangerous situation."
The "aggressive dog permit" could cost as much as $25. The Department of Insurance could also add rules requiring additional risk insurance for the dogs.
The restrictions would take effect in January. Beginning in 2015, violators would be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Moore says he's already getting "beaten up" over the proposal but hopes it will start a conversation.
"Some dogs have aggressive natures," he said. "I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about it, saying I’m trying to blacklist these dogs, and that’s not the intent. It’s just to let people take responsibility for owning those breeds because they’re good dogs – all of them – but they have the potential."