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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Willie Nelson Speaks Out on Canine Profiling

Legendary singer/songwriter Willie Nelson knows a thing or two about outlaws, but he fights for the rights of those who undeservingly end up on the wrong side of the law. Nelson is using his famous voice to speak out in support of the “favorable and quick” passage of Ohio House Bill 14, legislation that would remove canine profiling from Ohio’s books. The bill already has passed the Ohio House of Representatives and is up for consideration by the Senate. Ohio is the only state in the country that automatically declares a type of dog vicious based solely on appearance, rather than behavior. Any pit bull terrier-type dog, or any dog resembling a pit bull, falls under this discriminatory law. HB 14 would remove this breed-specific designation and strengthen the state’s dangerous dog laws to target reckless owners and dangerous dogs instead of innocent pets.

Nelson, who speaks out on animal welfare issues for Best Friends Animal Society, encourages Ohio residents to contact their senators and the committee members and urge them to support HB 14. 

More information and simple ways to take action are available here:

Nelson’s letter, sent “on behalf of dog lovers everywhere,” asks senators vote to overturn the statewide discrimination “against dogs who all share a cluster of physical characteristics by classifying this group as ‘vicious’ without any regard to individual dog behavior. These dogs are considered ‘vicious’ at birth, even though there are countless dogs of unknown heritage who are deemed ‘pit bulls’ and are wonderful family pets.”

His letter goes on to say: “Dogs, much like people, are individuals and should each be judged on his/her own merits. The simple truth is that breed is not a factor in bites, and HB 14 is an important public safety measure that will protect individuals from any dangerous dog, no matter what the dog’s appearance or heritage.” 

In addition to the high-profile support of Nelson, actress and activist Maggie Q also urges passage of HB 14 through a YouTube video:

A petition at has already collected more than 10,500 signatures in support of the bill. Breed-discriminatory laws are expensive and have been proven ineffective in protecting the public. According to economic research firm John Dunham and Associates, it costs Ohioans more than $17 million a year to enforce the existing law. Best Friends Animal Society, the Ohio County Dog Wardens, the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio and the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates all support HB 14. HB 14 which would essentially allow all dogs to be evaluated and treated as individuals and permit local jurisdictions the authority to hold any/all reckless owners accountable for the behavior of their dogs.

Best Friends Animal Society works to help pit bulls through its national pit bull initiatives, which battle everything from these dogs’ sensationalized reputation to legislation designed to bring about their extinction. The initiatives’ goal is to end discrimination against all dogs— because they are individuals and should be treated as such. As part of its ongoing national outreach, Best Friends works with humane groups all across the country to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets®. 

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