Sunday, June 3, 2012

BSL


Breed-specific legislation (BSL) recently reared its ugly head in Georgia. In Gainesville, GA, a woman called for a citywide ban on pit bulls, citing a story in which her son was mauled while running with his cross country team. The dog in question was not a pit bull. The woman has since contacted state Rep. Carl Rogers, who promised to put the issue of “dangerous dogs,” specifically pit bulls, before state legislature. Thankfully, our legislature was sensible enough to steer clear of BSL. Instead, they passed the Dangerous Dog Act, which mentions no breed and places responsibility squarely on the owner's shoulders.

BSL doesn’t work. Dog-bite fatalities are so extremely rare that not even a state could ban enough dogs to insure that they had prevented even ONE. (http://stopbsl.org/2010/10/08/new-study-explains-why-bsl-doesn’t-work/) Breed bans are under-inclusive. For example, in one community that was considering a pit bull ban, pit bulls and pit bull mixes were only responsible for 8% of bites. The breed ban wouldn’t have protected the public from the dogs that caused 92% of the bites. (http://www.animallawcoalition.com/breed-bans/article/556)

Dogs don’t bite or attack because they are a certain breed. Pit bulls are not more aggressive than other dogs, nor do they have locking jaws. Pit bulls were also not bred for fighting – they were bred to take down large game on a hunt and yet remain friendly and trustworthy as a family dog.

Did you know that there are no major animal or health organizations that support BSL? (Except maybe PETA, but they’re insane.) That National Animal Control Association states that “dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behaviors and not because of their breed.”Just because one Labrador bit a kid’s hand doesn’t mean that all Labradors will. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that “there is no evidence any breed of dog is more vicious or dangerous than the others.” Centers for Disease Control observed in a paper that BSL does not address the reasons dogs bite. (http://www.animallawcoalition.com/breed-bans/article/556)

The UK’s Dangerous Dog Act bans several breeds of dogs, including pit bulls. Three months before the breed bans, there were 99 bites, 3% of which were by pit bull types. Two years after the ban was implemented, that number had increased to 5%. The Act did not result in any decline of dog bite incidents, and the Act was declared a failure. (http://www.animallawcoalition.com/breed-bans/article/556)

BSL is also incredibly costly. With the call for a ban on pit bulls, Georgia has a potential disaster on their hands. Remember, pit bull isn’t a breed – it’s a stereotype. That begs the question, “Exactly how much pit is too much pit?” Would mass hysteria erupt like the Salem witch trials, with people running down the street pointing at every other dog, yelling “Pit bull! Pit bull!” I already have a friend who sees pit bull in every dog she looks at, just imagine how many more people like her are in this state.

I have an American Pit Bull Terrier that is an obedience school graduate and lives inside. Will he be safe until I take him to the vet? Or will my vet records be confiscated and animal control be knocking on my door? My dog  have never done anything wrong, never attacked anyone, never bitten anyone…why should they have to die for someone else’s intense fear response? What about all of the pit bull type dogs that are certified therapy dogs?
BSL just doesn’t make sense. What is it with humans and the need to put everything and everyone in a neat little category and label them the same? Every dog is an individual and should be treated as such. The same goes for people/owners. If more restrictions were put on people with dogs running at large, people that don’t vaccinate, etc, that would help cut down on dog bites. The county I live in doesn’t have a leash law. Why can’t we make it a statewide law that dog must remain on your property unless leashed or under strict voice control? Why can’t we encourage education and low cost spay/neuter clinics?


The new and improved GA law is great, but let's still push for stricter leash laws for ALL dogs AND low cost spay/neuter clinics in conjunction with comprehensive education programs. 


Love, Peace, and Pibbles! 

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