Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 5pm

Canine DNA

City of Tea, South Dakota Codifies DNA Defense 

The City of Tea, South Dakota has done something no other American city has done:  statutorily provided a DNA defense to Pit Bulls visually classified as such. The city does require Pit Bulls to be registered and muzzled while in public, and owners must carry $500,000 liability insurance.  The full ordinance can be read here.  The DNA defense in contained in Section 7.09 (H) which states: 

The above sections do not apply if the majority of the animal is proven to be non Pit Bull or Wolf DNA. The Burden of proof falls on the owner of the animal with the City reimbursing the owner for the cost of the test if the test confirms that the majority of DNA is not Pit Bull or Wolf. 

No other city has such a statutory defense. In Miami, for instance, animal control will not even consider DNA evidence once they have classified a dog visually.  You have to appeal and go before a hearing examiner to contest with DNA evidence.  Exactly such a fact pattern resulted in the Dade County Appellate Court ruling that an animal control officer is not qualified to identify a Pit Bull by visual identification.  This case has been discussed on PBLN here. Visual identifications are almost totally unreliable. According to scientific studies, shelter personnel are only 25% sucessful in identifying a dog's breed by visual identification-worse than chance.  The evolution of canine DNA will be discussed on this site shortly.

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