In Wisconsin, Republican legislators have presented a bill that would outlaw felons from becoming parents to “vicious” dogs.

According to State Sen. Andre Jacque, in some cases, vicious dogs are as dangerous as guns. “You’re talking about putting a weapon in the hands of someone who is not supposed to have access to it,” Jacque told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Thankfully, the bill doesn’t target any specific breeds as vicious. Unfortunately, biased attitudes and stereotypes about breeds such as Pit Bulls can inadvertently harm dogs. In some cases, unchecked discrimination has even cost dogs their lives.

What Makes a ‘Vicious Dog’?

Instead, the bill authorizes police to determine whether a dog’s behavior is vicious. “Unfortunately, there is a significant problem of animals being used for such unlawful activity,” according to the bill. Notably, the bill cites “dogfighting,  guard dogs for narcotics trafficking and other illegal activity, and…tools for intimidation” as evidence of irresponsible pet parenting. Alarmingly, dogs have also bitten and injured officers during arrests and routine investigations, according to the bill.

Interestingly, the bill targets felons convicted of particular crimes. Specifically, the bill applies to homicide, felony battery, and sexual assault convictions, and felonies involving controlled substances. Punitively, the crime carries $10,000 in fines or six years imprisonment as punishment.

Do These Laws Work for Dogs’ Benefit?

According to the article, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa state legislatures have already outlawed felons from becoming dog parents to vicious dog breeds. In the United States, a dog bite carries liability against the dog parent. As such, a law that mitigates irresponsible pet parentship not only makes sense legally, but it also protects dogs from euthanasia. 

Curiously, senators first introduced the bill in 2015, and again in 2021. Both times, the committee fully supported the bill but it failed to pass the full Legislature. In response, Sen. Jacque said the bill wasn’t a “high priority” for leadership. However, the senator believes the non-contentious bill will get “strong bipartisan leadership”. In short, the bill will hopefully outlaw ‘vicious dogs’ for felons in Wisconsin without harming any animals.

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