| First, they came for the Pit Bulls,
but you didn't speak out because you don't have a Pit Bull.
Then they came for the German Shepherds,
but you didn't speak out because you don't have a German Shepherd.
Then they came for the Akitas,
but you didn't speak out because you don't have an Akita.
Then they came for the Boxers,
but you didn't speak out because you don't have a Boxer.
When they come for your dog,
will anyone speak out for you?
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is EVERY dog owner's concern. There are over 150 breeds banned in different countries world wide. The lists include Pit Bulls, Boxer, German Shepherds, Rottweiliers, Corgis, Collies.
BSL is the term for laws that are made that target an entire breed or classification of dog as 'dangerous'. The law pays no heed to a specific dog's history of aggression - or lack thereof. In fact, it pays no attention to specific dogs at all, it targets an entire breed of dogs, or in the case of 'pit bulls', it targets any dog with short hair and a powerful build.
BSL usually crops up in places where there is a problem with irresponsible dog ownership coupled with a horrific dog attack.
Proponents of BSL are under the misguided notion that punishing the people who are already responsible dog owners will somehow correct a problem that originates in people who are already breaking the law.
A properly raised, properly socialized, properly trained dog is not a danger to any 'friendly stranger' that it meets. Breed has nothing to do with it.
There is an easy way to think about this issue: if 80% of car accidents occurred in red sports cars, would we ban red sports cars? No, of course not! The source of the problem is the irresponsible driver behind the wheel of the car, not the car itself.
An out of control dog is the responsibility of that dog's owner to contain or control. No different than a car.
The problem with BSL is that it punishes the people who are law abiding, responsible dog owners in the first place. The drug dealer with the vicious dog tied in his front yard is not going to suddenly obey the law that says that his dog is illegal to own. He is already a criminal!
Were BSL to ever be enacted in New York, Ruby would be taken from me. She is a certified Therapy Dog, proven to be excellent with children, strangers and reliable in every situation she has ever been 'tested' in. Why should she be condemned to die because of her breed?
Meet Ammit. She is an eleven year old Pit Bull living in Iowa. In eleven years of life, Ammit never bit anyone, never was a public nuisance, never caused any problems in her neighborhood, never broke any laws.
Last year, Iowa passed BSL laws, and now Ammit's owner lives in fear of the police coming to her house to take Ammit away. Ammit's only crime is her breed and that 'crime' could be her death sentence. According to the Iowa, Ammit is so dangerous that she should be euthanased immediately. One day she was a friendly pet, the next she deserves to die... this makes no sense.
Ammit's owner raised Ammit to be a well mannered, loving, obedient pet. She is not a drug dealer, she is not a dog fighter, she is just a regular person with a good dog. BSL now prevents her from walking her dog during the day, it has MADE her into a criminal - her 'crime' is not wanting to kill a member of her family.
|What about 'Dangerous Dog' laws?
Dangerous Dog laws (laws that target dogs that are known to be dangerous) sound good on paper, but in reality they are not much better than BSL. The problem with Dangerous Dog laws is one of selective enforcement. A toy Poodle that bites someone should be classified as a 'dangerous dog' and be subject to all of the same punishments and restrictions as a large breed dog that is aggressive. Unfortunately, there is little chance of fair enforcement of these laws, especially in relation to breeds of dog generally thought of as 'good family dogs'.
I have been involved in dog rescue for years. I have transported, over nighted, and temporary fostered over 100 dogs. I have been bitten ONCE - by a Labrador Retriever.
|What about the bite statistics in the media?
There is no polite way to put this: the bite statistics used to support BSL are lies. Deliberate fabrications
to conjure up fear and hate.
The FACTS are as follows:
- There is no state or federal mandate to report dog bites. Reporting is voluntary so the reports are
skewed by those who choose to report bite incidents. For the statistics to be reliable, all bites would
have to be reported, regardless of the breed of dog or the severity of the bite. A Chihuahua who bites your
pant leg has still bitten and that would have to be reported.
- There are over a dozen breeds of dog that are commonly classified as 'pit bulls', dogs that are mixed
breeds that have short hair are also classified as 'pit bulls'. This makes no sense. That would be the
same as lumping Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Duck Dolling Retrievers and Flat Coated Retrievers
together as the same breed.
- A child is much more likely to be injured or killed by their parent or guardian than by a dog. We do not 'ban' parenting, we make it illegal to harm a child. If someone owns a dog that bites, that person should have their dog removed from their care and not be allowed to own another dog. It is not a dog's responsibility to train itself, it is the owner's responsibility to correctly raise and train that dog. When someone fails to do this they should be held accountable.
- According to accounts by veterinarians and groomers, small breed dogs are far more likely to bite than large breed dogs.