End Discriminatory Breed-Specific Insurance Regulations in New York State

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Up to 99% of pit bulls surrendered to shelters are killed. Part of the problem is that homeowners are finding it more and more difficult to obtain homeowners’ insurance that accepts their breed of dogs. In recent years, several insurance companies have blacklisted dog breeds they consider dangerous, making it all but impossible for dog owners to get the insurance they need to protect their home.

These policies break up families, send pit bulls and similar dogs to kill-shelters in droves, and put serious financial strain on shelter resources. It is time for New York State to join Pennsylvania and Michigan in prohibiting breed-specific insurance exclusions (BSIE), so we can stop the needless separation of families and the eventual euthanasia of innocent dogs.

Every year, statewide rescue centers take in homeless pit bulls in danger of being euthanized at shelters. Many of these dogs were surrendered when their owners faced the heart-breaking decision of giving up a beloved family member in order to keep a roof over their children’s heads. Too many children have cried, heartbroken, as their parents rip them away from their favorite companions. Even grown men have broken down because they can no longer keep their best friend.

In my own efforts to find homes for rescued animals, all too often, families who would love to rescue an animal is desperate need of a home look into it and conclude that they are not allowed to rescue the dog due to their homeowners insurance policy and fear being dropped for adopting the "wrong" breed of dog. I can't explain how heartbreaking this is to anyone who devotes time, energy and resources to animal rescue, knowing that the best homes with the most secure families cannot accept these dogs. Instead, their only hope for adoption lies within families willing to risk insurance loss by secretly adopting a pit bull, or people with low moral standards who cannot offer proper veterinary attention, and in the worst cases, those individuals who have less than honorable intentions when it comes to what they are looking for in the use of the animal.

There are better ways to minimize insurance risk than forcing families to give up their dogs. If insurance companies want to reduce risk they should require dog owners and their pets to go through obedience training or provide proof of Canine Good Citizen certification. Requiring homeowners to show such proof, rather than denying them coverage outright, reduces the chance of dog bites and liability for all parties involved while keeping dog owners in their homes and dogs out of shelters.

Pennsylvania and Michigan have protected homeowners and their dogs from discrimination while also ensuring that insurance companies don’t face an unfair burden. It is time for New York State to do the same by creating legislation that prohibits breed specific insurance blacklists. Help us keep families in their homes and dogs from being abandoned and euthanized, and tell New York legislators to ban breed-specific insurance policies.



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