Earlier this year Wisconsin lawmakers moved forward in the national fight against breed-specific legislation (BSL) when Assembly Bill 487/ Senate Bill 450 was passed. The bill reduces the holding time for stray and seized animals in the state, and ends the required euthanasia of animal victims seized in dog fighting operations.
Under the current law, “if the owner of an animal that is being held in custody (by a local governmental unit or other person, such as a humane society, on behalf of a local governmental unit) is convicted of a crime related to animal fighting and the animal is one year old or older or shows indication of having participated in fighting, the animal must be euthanized.” This law did not allow for any kind of behavioral analysis or rehabilitation for the animal in question; it was an immediate death sentence. Under Bill 487, however, “if an animal has been taken into custody because it is believed that the animal has been used in any crime against animals or that it constitutes evidence of a crime against animals, it must be retained in custody.” The bill also allows the local governmental unit or other person with custody of the animal in question to demand payment from the animal’s owner for the custody, care, and treatment of the animal every 14 days.
The passage of this bill is a victory for those who oppose BSL. Pit bulls who are rescued from illegal dog fighting rings in Wisconsin have now been given hope for rehabilitation and a future life full of happiness and love. While the passage of this bill is certainly cause for celebration, we must remember that we are still fighting a far larger war. A number of U.S. states still allow for breed discrimination. Let us use this small victory as motivation to continue the fight against injustice. No dog should be killed simply because of what he/she looks like or because a human decided to commit a crime against him/her.