Bad Dog Bill


We passed the “Bad Dog Bill” [SB1143] out of the Senate yesterday. I first saw it on the Agricultural Affairs Committee. The author, a veterinarian from here in Boise deserves a medal for perseverance and heroism. He donated two years of meetings emails, rewrites and phone calls to move this forward. I appreciated it, but mostly he just got a lot of questions from the committee.

For years Idaho statutes have addressed bad dogs in a confusing and conflicting way. For instance, if a dog bit your cow or horse it could be destroyed as vicious. But if it bit you or your kid it was considered dangerous and could be confined and restricted. If it bit you or your kid a second time it could be destroyed.

It has always been the law in Idaho that a dog threatening you or your stock (not chickens) can be shot. This bill does not change that. We are still a frontier state, even though 95% of dogs live indoors now.  50 years ago the ratio was opposite with 95% of dogs living outdoors. So our dog culture has changed somewhat. We still respect the stockman.

The definition of “dog” in this bill is an interesting issue that got no notice. See Section 25-2806 line 11-12 (“Any canine species”). So, Idaho law makes it legal to shoot a wolf attacking your stock.

The good veterinarian’s new law made better sense. It did not classify any breeds as bad, because that fashion comes and goes. It did set up categories of “dangerous” and “at risk”. A bad dog could be redeemed from the “at risk” category after a few years of good behavior.

Of course, when you do something that will apply to the whole state you need to have some flexibility. These laws would be the baseline from which counties or cities could write more restrictive ordinances.

It is a testimony to our state that we tolerate such variation. For instance, the city of Rathdrum has decided to no longer require licensing for dogs.

 “The city wonders if less government will mean more compliance with dog licensing.” 

I can understand deciding not to do the licensing anymore, but I don’t understand how that would increase compliance. Just like the veterinarian did, if you want something to change, I think you have to devote some time and effort to it.

The “Bad Dog Bill” was sent to the amending order to change one small part. Sometimes this can open up a big can of worms and the bill can die. But the amendment got passed and the bill will move on to the House. I hope the author will see this step as some reward.  I have heard the House is much tougher on this sort of regulation.

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About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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