Suggested alternatives to breed bans include:
- Stronger enforcement of existing dangerous dog laws. If they are not already in place, lobby for protection from untrained and unsupervised dogs of any breed or mix. This is a broad-based effort that protects all citizens as any dog can bite and be a nuisance when owned by an irresponsible owner. Those who would deliberately train a dog to act aggressively towards people or other animals, or to use dogs in the commission of a felony or misdemeanor should face additional penalties.
- Encourage local animal rescue and welfare agencies to provide responsible dog ownership seminars and canine safety education. The American Kennel Club has a free education program created for elementary school children.
- Protect the rights of all citizens with nuisance ordinances such as anti-barking, pooper-scooper regulations, and leash laws.
Breed specific ordinances are quick fixes and not a sufficient long term solution for the following reasons:
Dog problems are generally problems with owner responsibility and are not limited to breeds. When breeds are singled out as dangerous or vicious, responsibility is removed from the dog owner, which is where it belongs. Irresponsible people are also less likely to follow the law - and as a result, everyone has to suffer.
By limiting the ability of citizens to own certain breeds, responsible law abiding citizens will shy away from those breeds. These are the types of owners that communities need to encourage, not drive away.
Communities that have instituted such bans often find that the irresponsible owners and the criminals who use dogs for illegal purposes simply switch to another breed.
The Humane Society of the United States also opposes breed-specific policies, stating: "Restrictions placed on a specific breed fail to address the larger problems of abuse, aggression training, and irresponsible dog ownership. Again, breed alone is not an adequate indicator of a dog's propensity to bite."
Whether you agree with BSL or not, you should keep abreast of what is going on. If left unchecked, it could one day effect the future of your own beloved family dog.
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is Pure Bull
Breed-specific legislation (BSL), is any law, ordinance or policy which pertains to a specific dog breed or breeds, but does not affect any others. It also can include loss of your right to own a dog based solely on the breed or "type" of dog.
Proponents of BSL usually cite the need to protect the public from dog breeds "viewed" to have inherent tendencies to aggressive behavior. They believe that certain breeds possess a trait or gene that make them this way - placing none of the blame on human irresponsibility, recklessness, and in many cases, downright animal cruelty.
Opponents of BSL believe that many of the policies created by BSL have been randomly or illogically developed, and are often capriciously or inconsistently enforced. For example, though "Pit Bulls" are primarily the focus of BSL, there is no consensus on what a "Pit Bull" actually is. The term "Pit-Bull-Type-Dog" has been used to describe up to ten very different breeds, including bulldogs, boxers, and bullmastiffs. See if you can spot the "pit bull" in this Find the "Pit Bull" game.
Breed Specific Legislation singles out certain breeds of dogs regardless of the individual dog's present or past behavior.
The American Kennel Club (AKC), one of the most prominent canine organizations in the world issued a position statement regarding BSL:
"The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports dangerous dog control. Dog control legislation must be reasonable, non-discriminatory and enforceable as detailed in the AKC Position Statement.
To provide communities with the most effective dangerous dog control possible, laws must not be breed specific. Instead of holding all dog owners accountable for their behavior, breed specific laws place restrictions only on the owners of certain breeds of dogs. If specific breeds are banned, owners of these breeds intent on using their dogs for malicious purposes, such as dog fighting or criminal activities, will simply change to another breed of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety. Strongly enforced dog control laws such as leash laws, generic guidelines for dealing with dangerous dogs and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all positive ways to protect communities from dangerous dogs. Increasing public education efforts is significant because it helps address the root cause of the problem --- irresponsible dog owners."
The implementation of BSL is a hotly debated topic. A number of breeds have been restricted or banned in some states and the list is growing.
Entire organizations and groups have been formed solely to challenge BSL and here are some major reasons why:
- Dog control problems are people problems and are not limited to a specific breed or mix.
- When breeds are singled out as dangerous or vicious, responsibility is removed from the owner of the dog - which is where it belongs.
- Banning a breed or declaring it inherently vicious punishes those responsible dog owners who are the type of citizens that communities need to keep, not drive away.
- Communities that have instituted such bans often find that the irresponsible owners and the criminals who use dogs for illegal purposes simply switch to another breed or go further underground to continue their illegal activity.
- Banning a breed or particular mix of breeds punishes those dogs that are reliable community citizens, therapy dogs, assistance dogs for handicapped owners, search and rescue dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, police dogs, etc.
- There is no genetic evidence that one breed of dog is more dangerous than another simply because of its breed.
Although breed-specific bans might comfort individuals who have had unpleasant experiences with particular breeds or have heard of attacks by specific breeds in the media, it has been proven that BSL is ineffective because it fails to address the root causes of the problem - dog fighting, gangbangers that use certain breeds to protect their drugs and turf, backyard breeders that supply dogs to the aforementioned criminals, and last but not least, irresponsible and reckless dog owners. It's easier to use an entire breed of dogs as a scapegoat than to fix the societal issues that are the main cause of dog attacks. We're looking at the wrong end of the leash.