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Are Iowa’s Breed-Specific Dog Bite Laws Fair?

Iowa’s state dog bite laws do not discriminate on the basis of a dog’s breed; however, some towns and cities have passed breed-discriminatory or breed-specific laws. These laws either ban the ownership of certain dog breeds or declare those dogs as “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous.” The law may require that dogs of certain breeds be microchipped, muzzled, or kept in prescribed enclosures while in city limits. The dogs most often affected by breed-specific laws are Pit Bulls and dogs that resemble Pit Bulls.

It is true that Pit Bull attacks account for 60 percent of American dog bite deaths that occurred between 2005 and 2012. Some advocates for Iowa dog bite victims believe that Pit Bulls and their relatives are naturally aggressive and more likely to attack. But Pit Bull lovers say that the behavior of the dog reflects its training and that targeting a dog based on its breed or appearance is discriminatory and unfair. The American Bar Association, the American Humane Society, and the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association are opposed to breed-specific dog laws.

More and more Iowa cities are forgoing breed-specific dog laws in favor of laws that protect from all dangerous dogs regardless of breed. Cedar Rapids is an example. The city does not have breed-specific dog laws, but the city does require all dog owners to keep their pets on a leash when off their property. Owners who fail to restrain their dogs face fines. A dog that is allowed to run at large may be impounded.

There are additional restrictions for dog that have shown a potential to be dangerous. A dog is classified as “potentially dangerous” if it harms another domestic animal or causes minor injury to a human. Dogs that are potentially dangerous must be kept in a proper enclosure. They must also be spayed or neutered and fitted with a microchip at the owner’s expense. In some cases, Cedar Rapids Animal Control may order the owner to take his pet to behavior-modification classes. This is important because dogs of any breed may express aggression if they aren’t trained properly.

A dog is classified as “dangerous” if:

  • The dog bites or attacks without provocation more than once.
  • The dog causes any injury after being designated “potentially dangerous.”
  • The dog causes serious injury to a human.
  • The dog is trained to fight.

Dangerous dogs are banned within Cedar Rapids city limits.

Our attorneys know that all breeds of dogs have the potential to be dangerous. If you have been bitten by a dog in Iowa, the dog bite lawyers at Hupy and Abraham will use local and state laws to ensure that you get all the compensation you need to recover from your injury. To schedule a free consultation, contact Hupy and Abraham at 888-807-2752.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham