Breed Specific Legislation is a response to paranoia, the result of which is for legislators to pass laws restricting, or banning certain dog breeds. Most often the target are the Bully breeds, dogs that are Pit Bulls (see below). Make no mistake in some areas hundreds of dogs, many of which were good family pets, have been killed.
photo source – One of many dogs on a pile of dead dogs. This photo was uploaded to Flickr regarding one of many mass kills in the city of Denver. Under the pile of dogs there the bodies of euthanized puppies, dogs who surely did not hurt anyone. Click the photo link to read more.
Nazi Germany leader Adolph Hitler was famous for deciding who should live, and who should die. In his case he decided that (among others) all Jewish people should die. In fact he organized to have them all exterminated. His efforts were stopped and today we look back at his acts and call them horrific, cruel, and inhumane. Yet today in some areas certain dog breeds are being killed in the same way.
Known as Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL, this is a law that is passed at the city level, state (or provincial) level, or country wide. Typically the law is against the “bully breeds”. Basically it is felt by the dog community that Breed Specific Legislation came about due to a knee-jerk reaction as the result of the publics outcry against publicized attacks by pit bull terriers (and dogs that look like pit bulls).
In some cases the law prohibits prospective owners from acquiring a dog of a “restricted breed”, while current owners were “Grandfathered in” and allowed to keep their current dogs but could not breed or sell them. In other areas the law was brought in so drastically that people who owned dogs, even dogs that had never been a problem, had their dogs removed from their homes and killed.
That’s right, these dogs were judged on breed alone, NOT the owners ability to care for them, NOT their temperament, training, or any other factors. In some cases dogs were judged and exterminated only because they happened to have the look of a pit bull.
Ironically the “Pit Bull” is not a breed of dog at all, rather it is a type. To be specific, and correct breed names are – American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Under the Pedigree act a dog must be registered to be referred to as a specific breed. Unfortunately many dogs are not registered, so if they look like the “Pit Bull” type, they may fall into problems with Breed Specific Legislation.
Some problems for these dogs started with illegal dog fighting, people who encourage vicious behavior in their dogs, and indeed the media. You probably cannot remember the last time you heard of a Cocker Spaniel attacking a child.. but these attacks happen often. You probably don’t remember the last time you heard of a Pomeranian killing a child, but this too has happened (in fact it happened at least once in Los Angeles). Yet if a pit bull even looks at somebody the wrong way it makes news.
Another view of the same pile of dogs euthanized in Denver, Colorado.
Other Dog Breeds Frequently Targeted by Breed Specific Legislation
Caucasian Mountain Dog, Rottweiler, Doberman Pincher, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Chow Chow, Japanese Tosa, Presa Canario, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Akita, and any of the other Mastiff Breeds.
There are many problems with Breed Specific Legislation
One of the main problems is that good dogs are killed, and good owners are punished. Criminal types who were attracted to these dogs and who encouraged aggressive behavior will simply select another breed of dog, or will simply keep the dogs hidden, and encourage the breeding of aggressive dogs.
The only thing that Breed Specific Legislation solves is paranoia. The same paranoia that Hitler felt when he enforced his rules that Jews must be exterminated.
Rather than banning dogs based on nothing other than breed, there are some Alternatives
- Responsible dog ownership, and education regarding how to socialize a dog and keep it safe, should be prioritized. Punishments should be towards people who intentionally encourage aggressive behavior in their dogs be it towards people or other animals.
- Education for parents in terms of not allowing their dog and child to be left alone together, and eduction for children in terms of how to behave around dogs, even family pets, is very important.
- Laws need to be in place against allowing dogs to roam, and against keeping dogs on chains as this has been shown to encourage aggressive behavior. Leash laws, pooper-scooper laws, and laws against allowing dogs to bark for prolonged times will also have a positive effect.
- Strict laws need to be in place for all dogs, regardless of breed, designed to keep all owners responsible owners, and all dogs as safe dogs.
- Incentives for neutering male dogs should be increased, as neutering has been shown to lower aggressive tendencies.