In this Feb. 11, 2017 file photo, a Rottweiler named Prime, who works as a service dog, is seen during the meet the breeds companion event to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York. Credit: Mary Altaffer / AP

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In an age where so many issues divide us, there is one thing on which we can all agree: life is better with pets. It’s not just anecdotal — scientific evidence confirms that having a pet is good for your physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, breed restrictions prevent many families from having certain types of dogs. This is often the case in affordable housing communities. A bill in Congress, the Pets Belong with Families Act, would fix this problem by prohibiting breed restrictions and discouraging size-based restrictions in public housing.

Currently, public housing authorities may impose arbitrary breed and size restrictions based on the false notion that certain types of dogs are more dangerous than others. But the data on dog bites are unreliable at best, and they are riddled with potential sources of error, making it impossible to claim that any one type of dog is more likely to bite. Additionally, research by organizations as diverse as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Bar Association have repeatedly shown that breed bans fail to protect public safety.

Rather than making communities safer, breed discriminatory policies exacerbate problems such as housing insecurity and inequality. Breed restrictions disproportionally impact those most in need of stable and secure housing. At their worst, breed-specific restrictions force families to either surrender their pets to animal shelters or choose potentially unsafe or unstable housing options. Rep. Chellie Pingree, please show your constituents that you support equity in pet ownership, and cosponsor HR 5828, the Pets Belong with Families Act.

Kim Schwickrath

Old Orchard Beach