Sunday, March 1, 2009

Breed Specific Legislation

Breed Specific Bans A group of laws that bans particular breeds, usually pit bulls (a type of dog, not a breed) and sometimes Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Akitas, Dobermans, Chow Chows, and a few others. These laws are usually passed after several attacks by a particular breed so that city councils can assure citizens they are “doing something” about a voter concern.

But breed bans don't work. They target all dogs of a breed -- the innocent as well as the guilty; are difficult to enforce; and do not end the use of guardian dogs by criminals. If pit bulls in their various incarnations are banned, drug dealers and other felons switch to another breed or mix. In the meantime, the ill-tempered terrier mix that bites the hand that feeds it and the poorly-bred purebred that attacks the neighborhood children pose a far greater danger to people than the obedience-trained American Staffordshire Terrier that is a registered therapy dog but cannot step foot inside the city.

Far better than breed-specific bans are strict laws to control aggressive dogs of any breed or mix. Known as generic vicious dog laws, they put restrictions on the ownership of dogs that pose a danger to people, restrictions such as confinement in locked, escape-proof kennels while outdoors on the owner's property; muzzles when the dog is off the property; and purchase of a liability insurance policy.

This is from one of the Pit-Bull rescue sites, and supports the arguments I have been making against BSL. As a dog owner of a mixed breed that likely contains some American Stafforshire blood, I would no more like to believe that Callie would attack another dog or human than I will believe that Tinkerbell is going to fly through my window in the spring. The reality is that Callie is dog, regardless of breed, she is a dog and is likely to behave like a dog, which means my responsibility as an owner is to leash her, exercise her and manage her around other dogs. I am amazed every single day by the number of people who walk their dogs off leash in my town and as their unleashed dog approaches my dog who is on a leash, they give a defensive, "he's very friendly". They don't know. Dogs are dogs. They can be extremely friendly in one instance and decidedly unfriendly in another. I compare it to people who see each other and either like each other immediately or dislike each other on sight. What terrifies me most is that if my dog were to get into an altercation with one of these unleashed animals, even if my dog is under my command, she will be the one that gets the bad press because of her "type". She is an extremely gentle, submissive and curious puppy, and my job is to be responsible for any and all behavior she exhibits, good and bad. I also have to constantly evaluate whether she is leaning towards exhibiting bad behavior and correct it immediately. I keep harping on this topic because it is very personal to me, and because I firmly believe this genocide has to stop, it will never be the right answer.

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