San Francisco Rejects Dog Muzzle Law

A proposal to muzzle aggressive dog breeds in public, which was raised after a woman was fatally mauled two weeks ago, was overwhelmingly rejected by the city's Commission of Animal Control and Welfare.

The commission chairman and dozens of frustrated dog owners attending Thursday's meeting called the proposal an overreaction to last month's attack.

"I don't want to demonize dogs. I don't want to specially demonize big dogs," said chairman Richard Schulke. "That's a very slippery slope to get into. One day it's your pit bull, the next day it's your Akita. I just don't think folks would stand for that."

Commissioner Frederick Hobson proposed a muzzle ordinance in response to the death of college lacrosse coach Diane Whipple, who was killed outside her apartment Jan. 26 by a mastiff-Canary Island dog owned by a neighbor. Prosecutors are considering charges against the dog's owners.

"No matter how you feel about this, there's a problem. There's a big, big problem," Hobson said. The vote on his proposal was 5-1.

Jean Donaldson of the Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals said the SPCA opposes breed-specific legislation.

"That element of society who want to breed and rear aggressive dogs will very quickly corrupt another breed. And we will have to keep banning breeds. So I don't think that is a solution," Donaldson said.