Alternatives To Breed Specific Laws
What is BSL?
BSL, or breed specific legislation, is just that, laws that only apply to specific breeds of dogs. Most of them pertain to Pit Bulls or Pit Bull type breeds like Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bulldog, Boston Terriers and Blue Paul Terriers. There are a few more rarer breeds but these ones are just an example.
These breed specific laws vary from muzzles required on Pit Bulls to Pit Bulls not being allowed in the city limits. The laws or ordinances were meant to help protect people from vicious dog attacks. Laws that fall under the BSL umbrella range from local towns to entire cities even a state.
The Effectiveness of BSL
Throughout the last 20 or so years breed specific laws have been becoming more popular. However, the more restriction that have been placed on owning Pit Bulls has caused them to gain an "outlaw" image. Being an outlawed dog combined with their strength and intimidating physical features they have quickly become a favorite among gangs and dog fighting rings.
Since, in many areas, it has become difficult to own Pit Bulls people have taken an "underground" approach to pet owning. The dogs aren't licensed, spend most time indoors, don't get walked or exercised enough and don't get socialized with other dogs or with people outside of their "family." These factors are all part of the aggression equation.
Another reason for breed specific laws are so ineffective is because of their costs to maintain and enforce them. They usually require a dedicated group to enforce the laws and once the dogs are removed from the owners they must be cared for until either transferred to another location that doesn't have a law that bans them or until dog is destroyed. These laws don't just apply to Pit Bulls that have shown aggression or have bitten, they apply to all Pit Bulls. That means that every one of these dogs will be removed if the city or county where the owners live has bans prohibiting Pit Bulls.
Also, if all Pit Bulls were taken out the equation, people would shift to another breed and the same issues would arise as that breed gain popularity.
Alternatives to Breed Specific Laws
To reduce the number of vicious dogs cities could enact a law that would require that every dog over the age of 8 or 9 months must be spayed or neutered with the exception of licensed breeders. That would greatly reduce the number of dog bites annually, after all, the CDC does acknowledge that most dog bites/attack are from unaltered dogs.
Also, cities should have laws in place for all vicious dogs not just one breed. If a dog attacks, unprovoked it should be destroyed regardless of its breed. Breed neutral laws would be a better suit for the safety of the general public. You can cut the number of Pit Bulls in half and yet still have the same percentage of them biting and attacking.
And, there needs to be harsher punishments for owners of vicious dogs. If a dog shows aggression and the owner does nothing to correct the behavior then the owner is just as, if not more so, at fault as the dog.
Breed specific laws were great on paper if you didn't know the real numbers. Now that the real statistics are starting to emerge we are seeing how hundreds of thousands of dollars have been thrown away for nothing. Just because you see an overall change in the numbers doesn't mean that you can fixed anything. If 2% of 1,000 attack then 2% of 100 are still going to attack.