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Breed Specific Legislation Doesn’t Target the Real Problem

Updated on October 6, 2012

Pit bulls are being targeted and labeled as dangerous, unpredictable, and vicious. These stereotypes lead people to fear these dogs, viewing them as a menace to be dealt with. The media has painted a portrait of the big bad pit bull, striking fear into the public who demand something to be done. Many breed specific legislations have been implemented in an effort to control the “pit bull” problem. BSL should not be in acted because it is an ineffective solution that does not target the real problem, irresponsible dog ownership and criminal acts, instead it punishes responsible owners.

Breed specific legislation refers to laws, policies, restrictions and regulations that pertain to certain dog breeds. These laws place restrictions on the breeding and ownership of dogs that have been deemed dangerous. These laws are executed in hopes of reducing dog attacks and bites. BSL places numerous limitations and policies on certain breeds and their owners. The goal is to improve public safety by targeting breeds that are inherently dangerous by nature and those that appeal to individuals involved in criminal activities.

Many supporters of BSL depend upon dog bite statistics. However, dog bite statistics are unreliable. They only take into account bites that have been reported. This does not consider the number of dogs of a specific breed that have not bitten, nor does it compare that number to the amount that has bitten. They also do not compare the percentage of bites from one breed to the next such as the number of pit bulls that bite compared to the number of Golden Retrieves. Also these statistics do not list the cause of the bite. Many bites are provoked as dogs generally do not bite without warning.

Most breed specific legislations target pit bulls; but what exactly is a pit bull? This is an umbrella term used to vaguely classify dogs with certain characteristics. A dog of medium size with a wide head, broad chest, short coat, strong solid build, thick nose and powerful jaws is considered a pit bull. Many breeds fall into this description such as Labrador retrievers, Boxers, American Bulldogs, Presa Canarios, Bull Mastitis, Rottweilers, Cane Corsos, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Tosa Inus, Dogo Argentians and so on. Even some smaller breeds such as Jack Russell Terriers, Patterdale Terriers, and Boston Terriers are confused with pit bulls. Proper identification is impossible without the dog’s registration papers and pedigree. Many dogs are mutts and their breed and lineage is impossible to determine. Any dog that appears to be a pit bull or to be mixed with a pit bull will be targeted.

BSL is taking the nation by storm; however it has been ineffective in solving the problems of dog bites and attacks. Dog bites and attacks are caused by irresponsibility on part of the owner, not by specific breeds. A dog’s breed does not make it dangerous, training, or lack thereof, lack of knowledge, neglect, and pure abuse make a dog a threat. Individuals who desire the creation of such dogs typically are involved in criminal acts such as drugs and dog fighting. Once a breed, such as pit bulls, has been banned and eradicated from an area those wishing to own and produce vicious dogs will just move to another breed. Thus, the cycle begins again.

Pit bulls and other powerful breeds have been labeled as being inherently aggressive and dangerous. This is false; no dog breed is inherently more vicious than another. Any dog of any breed and size can be aggressive and dangerous. Even small breeds have caused serious injury and in some cases death to children. According to the American temperament test society the American Pit Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Terrier have a passing rate of eighty-six to eighty-three percent whereas the general dog population only passes with seventy-seven percent. This means pit bulls are statistically safer than retrievers and spaniels. These tests put the dogs through various unexpected situations to gauge their reactions. These tests often include the use of strangers, and any sign of unprovoked aggression is an automatic failure for the test.

BSL does nothing to stop those who irresponsibly own a dog. These individuals will not obey the restrictions, ordinances and bans; instead they will keep the dogs in secret or simply choose another breed. What these legislations do is punish those who responsibly own these dogs. Those who wish to keep their pets will be forced to comply with laws such as erecting high fences on their property, buying expensive insurance policies, muzzling their dogs in public, and restricting the dog to their property at all times. However many legislations end in complete bans of pit bulls. The owner must then either relocate their dog to a place where BSL hasn’t be implemented, relinquish their pets, or have them sized and put to death. These are animals that have done nothing wrong, these are dogs that have shown no aggression and yet they must pay with their blood. Owners who have responsibly trained their dogs, who keep them as household pets have their families ripped apart.

In order for dog bites and attacks to be successfully reduced irresponsible ownership must be targeted and criminal acts punished. Breed specific legislation does nothing to target reckless ownership; instead it punishes those who correctly own their dogs. BSL is highly prejudiced in nature, punishing dogs for merely existing. BSL is not the answer, it simply is ineffective.


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    • Clucy profile image

      Kristin Tamke 6 years ago from Frederick, MD

      Very good hub! Right on so many points. BSL should not be in existance at all. There is no place for such ignorance. Pitties used to be the number 1 family dog to have due to its loyalty to the owner. I agree, to own one, you need to pass a few tests. The people that truly love the dog and will care for it properly, will have no issues with that request.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 7 years ago from https:// online/ hubpages. html

      The problem is absolutely the owners. I've owned several pitbulls and found them to be the most loyal and intelligent dogs I've owned. The problem with pitbulls however is that they have the equipment to really do damage, as do other dogs...granted, but once a pitbull takes hold he only lets go to get a better grip and nothing you do short of strangling him 'til he passes out will break his grip. Because of this it is the popular breed for fighting and as Michael Vick will attest to, sadistic, irresponsible, ego maniacal personalities are drawn to this breed. I believe that all owners of pitbulls (and/or other comparable breeds that are well equipped to hurt and maime) should be given a psycological evaluation that would disqualify the problem owner from possessing the breed - get rid of the problem owners not the apparent problem breed.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 7 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      I have owned 2 staffy's and 1 of them I was training as a search and rescue dog before I was hit by a drunk driver.

      My dogs also had gotten to maiden in dog school and were agility trained.

      It's not the dogs that are the problem it is the owners.

      Instead of criminalising dog breeds we should be making owners get licences (to say they have learnt how to care for these wonderful creatures)

    • Bukarella profile image

      Lyudmyla Hoffman 7 years ago from United States

      Had to pause and stop hopping. I have a rottie. Voted up useful!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      It's pathetic, really - but we've a system of completely monopolized mass media consisting of a group of criminals with only allegiance to Israel, and they control the bs that is constantly pumped into America's living rooms.

      Those people thrive and profit from fear mongering, and the attacks on Pitt Bull Terriers is just another of the endless parts of it.

      It's become acceptable to people here in America - for them to be lied to.

      I was almost licked to death once by a Pitt Bull. . . .it was frightening the amount of affection that some of those dogs could display with such ferocious passion. . . .I had to bathe.


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