Two years ago, when a pit bull attacked and seriously injured a dog in a Hamden neighborhood, many came out to urge town officials to enact a ban against owning the breed.
But a bill in the state legislature that has a public hearing today would ban Hamden, and every other city or town, from taking such steps.
State Rep. Diana Urban (D-43rd), introduced a bill to to prohibit municipalities from adopting breed-specific dangerous dog ordinances.
"The whole idea behind it is vilifying, it is uneducated and unnecessary," she said. Some states like Ohio and Florida will try to take a family pet away because they are a certain breed such as Staffordshire Terrier, German Shepherd or Rottweiler, she said.
"You hear it so often but bears repeating: it's not the dog, it's the owner," she said. Some people will breed the dog to be aggressive, she said, but even those dogs when removed and put into a family environment will thrive.
In her own home, her pit bull, which she rescued from Ohio, is regularly around children and has never shown any aggression.
"In Ohio she is labeled a dangerous dog because she is a pitbull mix — it boggles the mine," she said. "It's like saying because I am blond, I'm stupid.
"I'm not saying a dog can't be labeled as dangerous," Urban said, "but that its breed can't be the criteria."
Angel Capone Pitbull Rescue Director Racquel Trapp has worked with more than 800 pitbulls in the past 2 years and says there are many myths about pit bulls.
"I have yet to meet an aggressive one," she said. "I have been attacked by an Akita, a chihuahua, and a yorkie, but have yet to be attacked by a pit bull."
To ban certain breed of dogs would only take them away from good, responsible owners, she said, and produce a system of underground breeders selling dogs bred that would be unsuitable as pets.
She points to the American Temperament Society's breed aggression statistics, where the American Pitbull Terrier and the Staffordshire Terrier rated as having a better temperament than most other breeds.
In addition, she said, the National Canine Research Council conducted a study in 2010 that found that in order to prevent a single hospitalization resulting from a dog bite, a city or town would have to ban more than 100,000 dogs of a targeted breed and to prevent a second hospitalization, that number would have to be doubled.
"Dog-bite related fatalities are so extremely rare that not even a state could ban enough dogs to insure that they had prevented even one," she said. "Both history, scientific study and common sense will tell you such a law is ineffective, unjust, and will likely backfire."