Home > Pet News, Pet Ponderings > Dangerous Dog Registry – Are you for it or against it?

Dangerous Dog Registry – Are you for it or against it?


Today, I saw an interesting article in the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade could require online “dangerous dog” registry. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.

Most states already have online registries for sex offenders, and that’s a good thing, but a registry for dangerous dogs? I’m not sure. Maybe for the dangerous dog’s humans? No. That probably isn’t right either.

Part of me thinks it’s a good idea. It puts dog owners on notice that they need to train their dogs, and if their dog is deemed dangerous and attacks again, they can be confiscated. But posting the dog’s picture and owner’s address can also lead to harassment and an increased likelihood that a false report might be filed by neighbors who are now scared of having the dog in their neighborhood.

And, then there was this sentence (found in the article):

Under county law, a dog can be declared dangerous if it attacks another animal or a human without provocation and causes severe injury or death, or if it approaches a human in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack.

I wondered. Who gets to decide if the attack was unprovocated or provocated? Most people don’t know dog body language. They are not likely to recognize a provoked or unprovoked attack because they wouldn’t recognize the signs that a dog is warning them to get away. Who gets to decide if a bite or attack was unprovocated if there is no one around who understands the warning signs?

And, what about breed discrimination? Is that likely to go up in Miami-Dade county if this passes? Will we see more pictures posted of a particular breed leading to people wanting to ban all dogs of this breed? Possibly. The only thing I know for certain is that pitbulls won’t bear the brunt of that discrimination. Pitbulls aren’t allowed in Miami-Dade county. (Oh wait. I guess that means they are already discriminated against.)

Having dealt with our own dangerous dog issue at the dog park recently (thankfully, we never came across the owner or the dog, who have since been banned), I can’t help but think maybe we just need a registry for the really dumb dog owners. The ones who continue to put their dogs in situations in which they are likely to attack again. I know I am being sarcastic, but honestly I don’t know. Maybe having one would be a good thing in some situations.

What do you think? Is a dog registry a good idea or a bad one?

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  1. October 2, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    I don’t know how I would feel about it either. Any dog can become protective or territorial based on certain situations, wouldn’t that mean that all dogs could be on the list? What about dogs that are protect a home invasion, or their human if they are attacked, would they too be put on the list? If a dog goes after a squirrel or rabbit and catches it, would that get them on the list as well? 🙂

    • Mel
      October 2, 2012 at 6:17 AM

      Great questions! I don’t know, but I think that the people of Miami-Dade would want answers to those questions before enacting a registry that could have an impat on almost anyone.

  2. October 2, 2012 at 6:21 AM

    I have had a “dangerous” dog. I don’t think it ever should have happened, but it did. My Shepherd bit a smaller dog that came into my yard. The dog came into my yard and attacked Nikki first. Because she responded by biting, she became a dangerous dog. These people are very lucky I was there in seconds and stopped the fight.

    These people walked by every day and let the Terrier type dog run out on a long retractable leash and tease my dog along the fence. One day the leash broke and the little dog got through the wrought iron fence bars and went after her. They basically taught their dog that that behavior was wanted and ok by doing that everyday.

    I know because my Shepherd was bigger and one of the breeds that is discriminated against is why she was one that got the dangerous dog label. They never even listened to my side or what really happened. I don’t think the outcome would have been the same if both dogs were the same size or different breed.

    This was the one and only time that she did this. I moved from that Community a couple of months after that. I did learn a valuable lesson.

    The are many reasons for a dangerous dog label. Not all of them valid. I blame the Terrier’s owners for what happened.

    • Mel
      October 2, 2012 at 6:30 AM

      Wow Carole. So your dog was labeled dangerous even though the terrier came into your yard??? Breed discrimination is right.
      I blame the terrier’s owners too. I cannot believe your dog was labeled because of that. Damn retractable leashes. Stupid owners. Ugh!

  3. October 2, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    It didn’t matter who started the fight or where. All they say saw was big dog bit little dog. It should not have happened. I took this girl to the dog park before this, never had an issue. She would play with other dogs. I could no longer take her to the dog park. Her best friend was a Beagle. I fostered many dogs and never had problems with her.

    The owners of the Terrier thought it was so funny to let their little dog tease the big dog through the fence. I just hope they learned from it also.

    I also make sure now that other dogs can’t get into my yard. No more Vertical Wrought Iron fencing.

    • Mel
      October 2, 2012 at 9:57 PM

      Carole – that makes me so mad. How sad for you and your dog. I think if an owner’s dog gets in my yard it is not my fault, or my dog’s. Ugh!

  4. October 2, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    I don’t know about this, it is ripe for abuse like the story above. I’ve been in many situations where owners were incompetent in raising a dog. I had one dog come after us and I quickly moved on but the dog was right on our heels, turns out the guy was letting the dog out on the retractable leash saying he only wanted to play. No, that dog was growling. I wanted to call the police on him!

    • Mel
      October 2, 2012 at 9:56 PM

      I agree Gracie. I think Carole’s comments demonstrate the dangers of a registry such as this. Thanks to comments and great points like yours, I am now against it.

  5. October 2, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    I hate the whole idea of “sin” registries. There are even problems with sex offender registries. For instance, in some states, a sex offender registry includes rapists (yes), pedophiles (of course) and statutory rape cases, which could be an 18 year old with a 16 year old girlfriend with cranky parents.

    Registries are proposed because they’re a simple solution. But they don’t solve anything. They make people feel like they’ve done something when they’ve never addressed the difficult underlying issues.

    • Mel
      October 2, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      You get my most favorite comment of the day Pamela. Really great points.

    • October 2, 2012 at 11:45 PM

      Hear hear! I agree with Pamela wholeheartedly. It’s one thing to require any dog involved in a bite, attack or aggressive incident to undergo temperment testing with a qualified professional, but it’s completely another to create a list of dog & people that “seemed bad”. It just doesn’t solve anything!

  6. October 2, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    The part I find scary is the 2nd part: “or if it approaches a human in a menacing fasion”. Yikes. I have a GSD mix, so she “menaces” my gardener (and anyone else who comes in the yard). Who decides what a “menacing fasion” means? Rita has never bitten anyone – but she does bark like crazy and leap and carry on if someone comes in our yard. (We are working on it, but in the meantime… I suppose some folks who call her menacing.)

    • October 2, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      “some folks *would*” not some folks *who*. Hate typos.

  7. October 2, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    I think people with dangerous dogs in our area do have to register them with the county/animal control, but that registry is not public information. I can’t imagine how miserable life would be for people whose dogs ended up on that registry- my Aussie once got out (we weren’t home) and chased a child on a bike (riding circles in the street in front of our house)- we basically got a dog death threat from an anonymous neighbor. Just think what that kind of person would do with a public dangerous dog resgistry, or the power to put a dog on the registry.

  8. October 2, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    It would really depend on the dangerous dog laws. Besides, as Pamela said, registries are rarely useful. They do more to incite fear and paranoia than the seem to provide protection. Since most municipal dangerous dog laws are faulty, I don’t think advertising where these unfortunate dogs live is really going to do anything but increase a culture of fear. And probably put the dogs at even greater risk.

    Are there really that many dog attacks in the Miami area? Perhaps a few municipal dog behaviour education programs would be a better solution. It would not only help prevent these incidents but I bet it would be cheaper than a registry as well.

    • October 2, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      To answer your question, Kristine, Miami, like most big American cities has a high crime rate. It has heavy drug-trafficking. And people who carry guns often use dogs as weapons as well.

      I suspect this proposed registry has less to do with household pets and more to do with fear of crime. And probably a nice dose of racism as well.

      • Mel
        October 2, 2012 at 9:54 PM

        I think it even mentioned that in the story (albeit subtly) too. Thanks for answering Kristine’s question Pamela. I am just getting to my blog.

  9. Monica Sander
    October 2, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    I think it’s another form of breeding. I am so glad I no longer live in Miami. Dont the law makers have more important things to deal with?

    • Mel
      October 2, 2012 at 9:39 PM

      Good question. I guess not if it is such a big issue there. Or at least they believe it is a big issue.

  10. October 3, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Well you’ve got some really, well thought out responses up there Mel, I would agree with all of them. While a registry might be great for irresponsible dog owners, there are too many variables to say that any dog involved in any incident should be registered. As for who would make the decision as to whether the animal should go on the registry, well I think we’ve had some very recent, high profile cases where people who should know, did not.

    I think most instances of dog attacks involve some element of human error. An uncle of mine put down his dog that jumped the fence and bit a kid on his bike. They found out many months after the fact that the kid was riding by and shooting the dog with marbles using his sling shot.

    Human element.

    • Mel
      October 3, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      I agree Jodi. Lots of great responses, including yours.
      I read your comment about your uncle’s dog and just teared up. That poor dog. 😦

  11. October 4, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    I think it’s open to abuse, but less so than a blanket dangerous breed ban.

  12. October 4, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    If there has to be a dangerous dog registry, it should only be made available to law enforcement and not the public.Putting a persons address up for anyone to see is just begging for disaster.

    • Mel
      October 5, 2012 at 6:58 AM

      I like that option better Karen. Making it public is just dangerous.

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