updated 3/30/2004 1:33:24 PM ET 2004-03-30T18:33:24

Shotgun. Switchblade. Blackjack. Dog?

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A dangerous canine would be defined as a “deadly weapon” under a bill before the New York Legislature.

“Some of these dogs are killing machines,” said Assemblyman Patrick Manning, whose proposal also would allow towns to ban certain breeds.

The bill is among a pack of legislative solutions being offered nationwide to address the problem of vicious dogs, which Manning said are becoming “the weapon of choice for drug dealers or gangbangers.”

The legislation doesn’t single out any particular breed, but frequent targets in other states are pit bulls and Rottweilers, which have been involved in highly publicized attacks on people.

Manning’s bill is called “Elijah’s Law,” after a 3-year-old mauled by a Rottweiler last fall in New York City.

Novel proposal?
Animal advocates said the proposal to characterize dangerous dogs as deadly weapons is novel, although cities including Denver and Cincinnati already have passed bans on pit bulls. And an Ohio law requires owners of vicious dogs to carry at least $100,000 worth of liability insurance.

Stephanie Shain of The Humane Society of the United States said she was not aware of any statewide bans on breeds.

Some communities with pit bull bans have reported fewer attacks, but many animal advocates believe bans are overly simplistic, sweeping away good dogs along with the bad.

Prince George’s County, Md., is considering repealing its pit bull ban because of the number of family pets being destroyed.

“There are perfectly wonderful, safe pit bulls living with families and there are Labrador retrievers that are dangerous,” Shain said.

The society advocates looking at the problem dog by dog, rather than breed by breed. Shain said local animal control officers should be empowered to restrict free-roaming or menacing dogs before they cause serious injury.

Also before the New York Legislature is a bill that would allow the destruction of dogs that unjustifiably attack a cat or another dog. Another bill would bar convicted drug dealers and other felons from owning pit bulls, Rottweilers or any vicious dog over 10 pounds.

Manning said he wants to let communities create registries of dangerous dogs to help police and emergency workers.

“Every newspaper article about another attack only reinforces that we have to do something,” he said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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