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Dog breeds and dog bites: Massachusetts officials weigh restrictions

In every field of human activity, concepts and categories help to provide order and efficiency. When it comes to dogs, for example, it's clear that some breeds are more dangerous than others.

To be sure, smaller dogs can bite just as well large ones. To the victim of a Massachusetts dog bite, it doesn't matter whether the bite was by a Doberman or a terrier. Either way, the injury can be serious - especially when children are involved. At the same time, however, there is no doubt that Dobermans and pit bulls tend to pose more dangers than terriers and Chihuahuas.

And yet Massachusetts has recently put into effect a statewide law barring local communities from adopting breed-specific ordinances. The law went into effect on November 1 of last year.

Concerns about the new law escalated this month after an incident in which Boston police officers had to confront an unleashed pit bull in Dorchester. The officers shot the dog and continually lunged at them aggressively.

After one officer was attacked, police finally had to open fire. The dog died from the shooting and two officers were hospitals with injuries from the animal attack.

This was not an isolated incident. In October 2012, the month before the new state law went into effect, shot a pit bull after it got away from an apartment and bit a teenage boy.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and other local government officials are examining their legislative options for restricting breeds like pit bulls, despite the new state law. Meanwhile, it is well worth noting that animal owners are negligent in the handling of any breed of dog can be held accountable by injured people through premises liability law.

Source: "Unleashed pitbull in Dorchester shot and killed by Boston cops Saturday night" Boston Globe, Jaclyn Reiss, 1-20-13

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