Legislative Updates

HAGA Opposes House Bill 78

A bill introduced in the Georgia General Assembly on January 24, 2005 would make it illegal for any person to import, sell, transport, carry, own, keep, or otherwise possess any live pit bull dog in Georgia.  A “pit bull” would be defined as “any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.”  If the bill is passed and enacted into law, Georgia residents who own a pit bull as of July 1, 2005 would be forced to sterilize the animal and either keep it fully confined so as to have no contact whatsoever with the public, or have the animal leashed and muzzled and accompanied by an adult if it is taken out in public.

The Humane Association of Georgia adamantly opposes breed-specific legislation such as House Bill 78. 

Why is HB 78 a Bad Idea?

While breed is one factor which may contribute to a dog’s temperament, it alone cannot be used to predict whether a dog may pose a danger to his or her community. A September 2000 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (VetMed Today: Special Report) illustrates this point. The report detailed dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S. from 1979 through 1998, and revealed that, over that 19-year period, at least 25 different breeds or crossbreeds of dogs had been involved in fatally wounding a human being. The breeds cited ranged from the often-maligned pit bulls and rottweilers to the legendary “forever loyal” breed of St. Bernards. The main conclusion of the study was that breed-specific legislation doesn’t work for several reasons, including the fact that the inherent problem in trying to determine and prove a dog’s breed makes actual enforcement of breed-specific legislation almost impossible.

Although breed-specific legislation has been tried in a few states and municipalities throughout the country, communities that have banned specific breeds have discovered that it has not been the easy answer they thought it would be. In some areas, media hype has actually increased the demand for dogs whose breeds are in danger of being banned. Animal control agencies, even those that are well-funded and well-equipped, have found the such laws to be an enforcement nightmare.

Restrictions placed on specific breeds fail to address the larger problems of abuse, aggression training, poor socialization, lack of obedience training, failure to spay/neuter, and lack of proper containment and control by irresponsible dog owners.  Breed-neutral legislation regulating all dangerous dogs and placing responsibility for their behavior on their owners, as well as adequate enforcement of Georgia’s current dog-fighting statute, are more reasoned approachs to community safety than breed-specific legislation such as House Bill 78.

What is the Status of HB 78?

House Bill 78 is currently assigned to the House Non-Civil Judicial Committee.  Public hearings on the issue were held on 2-17-05.  Check our Action Alerts page for the most up-to-date information on HB 78.

I Want to Join HAGA in Opposing HB 78!  What Can I Do?

1.  Become educated about HB 78 and the issues surrounding breed-specific legislation.

  • To read the full text of HB 78, click here.
  • To read the Humane Society of the United States’ position on HB 78, clickhere.
  • To read the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ position on breed-specific legislation and HB 78, including an excellent printable article on effective dangerous dog legislation, click here.
  • To read a thoughtful editorial concerning HB 78 published in The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, click here.

2.  Contact state senators and representatives from your own district, as well as members of the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee, and oppose passage of House Bill 78.

  • Identify elected officials from your district by entering your five or nine digit zip code on the HSUS Find Your Elected Officials Webpage or by calling your county voter registration office. Contact us if you need help.
  • Members of the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee are listed below.
  • Let these elected officials know that breed-specific legislation fails to address the larger problem of irresponsible dog ownership.
  • E-mail is a convenient way to reach your legislators, but personal letters and phone calls have much more impact. After editing and sending your e-mail, you can download your message to print and mail. You can also make a brief and polite phone call to your legislators’ offices.
Georgia House of Representatives
Non-Civil Judiciary Committee

The Honorable David E. Ralston, Chairman
District 7

Capitol Address:
132-A Capitol Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone: 404.656.5943
Fax: 404.657.8277

District Address:
Post Office Box 1196
Blue Ridge, GA  30513
Phone: 706.632.2221
Fax: 706.632.6193Email: dralston1@tds.net

The Honorable Robert F. Mumford, Vice-Chairman
District 95
Capitol Address:
601 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone:  404.656.0253
Fax:  404.651.8086District Address:
884 Green Street
Conyers, GA  30012
Phone:  770.918.8914
Fax:  770.760.7680

The Honorable Ed Setzler, Secretary
District 35

Capitol Address:
411-C Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone:  404.656.0126
District Address:
1555 Boxwood Trace
Acworth, GA  30102
Phone:  770.420.0520 or 678.290.6572
Email: lesetzler@mactec.com

The Honorable Roberta Abdul-Salaam
District 74

Capitol Address:
Room 612 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Fax:  404.656.0325
District Address:
PO Box 960941
Riverdale, Georgia 30274
Phone:  404.422.2924
Email:  rsalaam@legis.state.ga.us

The Honorable Tim Bearden
District 68

Office Address:
607-C Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone:  404.656.0287
District Address:
6105 Wayfarer Drive
Villa Rica, GA  30180
Phone:  678.988.8801
Email:  bearden4house@aol.com

The Honorable Thomas C. Bordeaux
District 162

Capitol Address
511 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone: 404.656.6372

District Address – Savannah
126 East Liberty Street
Savannah, GA  31401
Phone: 912.233.7180 or 912.234.9245

The Honorable Sharon M. Cooper
District 41

Capitol Address:
415 Capitol Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone:  404.463.8142
Fax:  404.657.8278

District Address:
1234 Powers Ferry Commons, Suite 104
Marietta, GA  30067
Phone:  770.956.8357 or 770.951.2841
Fax:  770.956.9693

The Honorable Robert L. Franklin, Jr.
District 43

Capitol Address
402 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone: 404.656.5087

District Address – Marietta
4552 Cedar Knoll Drive
Marietta, GA  30066
Phone: 770.928.0896

The Honorable Mike Jacobs
District 80

Capitol Address:
612 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone:  404.656.0325

District Address:
1708 N. Holly Lane
Atlanta, GA  30329
Phone:  404.888.0922 or 404.321.1716
Email:  mike@meetmikejacobs.com

The Honorable Tom Knox
District 24 – Cumming

Capitol Address
504 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone: 404-656-0188

District Address – Cumming
302 Tribble Gap Road
Cumming, GA  30040
Phone: 770.887.0400
Fax: 770.889.8122
Email: tknox@legis.state.ga.us

The Honorable Phyllis Miller
District 106

Capitol Address:
504 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA    30334
Phone:  404.656.0188

District Address:
243 Culver Street
Lawrenceville, GA  30045
Phone:  770.964.1799 or 770.979.9803

The Honorable Nikki Randall
District 138

404 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone: 404.656.0109
Fax: 404.651.8086

District Address – Macon
P.O. Box 121
Macon, GA  31202
Phone: 478-474.7932

Email:  nrandall@legis.state.ga.us

“Blame the Deed, Not the Breed!”