A Bucks County lawmaker has introduced legislation that would give municipalities the right to adopt their own dog laws, but they would be forbidden to ban certain breeds.
The bill's sponsor House Rep. John Galloway said state dog law is "too broad" and that his legislation (H.B. 1243) to let local communities deal with their own unique dog issues. Galloway's came under fire last year for a version of the bill that allowed the banning of specific breeds deemed "dangerous."
"In Pennsylvania, we have rural, suburban and urban areas and each has its own challenges and needs when it comes to protecting pets, people and property," Galloway said. "Residents, not state officials, should have the final say on what ordinances are needed."
Under current law, communities are prohibited from enacting their own dog ordinances, including leash laws, because they must adhere to state law, which requires an owner have 'reasonable control' over a dog.
"Pennsylvania's dog ordinance is too broad," Galloway said. "Reasonable control could mean different things for different communities. For example, an urban area may feel the need to have leash laws, while such an ordinance might not work in a rural area. My bill would allow local residents to decide for themselves what 'reasonable control' should mean."
His bill is receiving support from the Humane Society of the United States, the American Humane Society, Hello Bully and various municipal officials. But some animal welfare groups say language in the bill is still directed at so-called "dangerous dogs" and they are concerned about how each municipality would interpret that term.