Those against breed bans seek effective enforcement of breed-neutral laws that hold dog owners accountable for the actions of their animals.

June 9th, 2008, Holland lifts its breed ban against Pit Bulls after discovering that fifteen years of BSL did not decrease the number of dog bite incidents. After euthanizing many puppies that had Pit Bull appearances, they concluded that physical traits did not pre-determine temperament.

June 30, 2009 Italy lifted its breed ban and replaced it with a law that holds owners accountable for their dogs. In September of 2003, Italy placed into effect laws that banned or restricted 92 breeds including not just controversial breeds such as the Rottweiler and Pit Bull, but breeds such as the Corgi and Border Collie.

In light of the new BSL free law, Health Undersecretary, Francesca Martini said “This is an historic day because we have established for the first time the responsibility of the owner or the person who is momentarily in charge of the animal.”

Dog advocates and experts globally have argued that dogs are individuals and aggression cannot be pinned on specific breeds as a whole. Many share the thought that banning an entire breed is nothing but a costly band-aid fix to quiet the hype caused by the media. Unbeknownst to many tax payers, BSL is very costly.Until owners are held responsible for their negligence, incidents will continue to occur even if specific breeds are eradicated.

Ignoring statistics and efficacy of BSL, Canada remains firm on their stance to ban specific breeds. On June 9th, 2009 the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeal to remove their ban on Pit Bulls. In the past 45 years, there has only been 1 reported fatality resulting from a “Pit Bull” attack in Canada, out of 47 cases of fatalities involving at least 100 dogs, most of which were sled dogs. The one listed incident of attack by a pit bull was the result of provocation by a drunken roommate.

There are factions of the populace that would have you believe these dogs are monsters. These people (let’s call them the lunatic fringe) feel that all pit bulls and dogs that share similar physical characteristics are inherently vicious. They believe that eradicating the breed will end bite incidents, despite the fact that countless studies on the subject have clearly shown that BSL does nothing to improve bite statistics. 

Why does the world seem to hate pit bulls? A large part of the problem is sensationalized media hype. Main stream media reporters love to exaggerate a bite story, especially if they think there is a pit bull involved. We have all seen these tactics at one time or another. We see the way every bite incident involving a pit bull is splashed across the front page. Headlines like “pit bull mauls toddler” or “pit bull attacks unprovoked” are spelled out in bold face type across the top of the page and are usually accompanied by a photo of a vicious snarling pit bull.

Meanwhile, stories with headlines such as “pit bull saves family from fire” or “pit bull takes bullet meant for owner” are buried somewhere in the back of the paper and barely noticeable. The media sensationalizes the random bite incident and will even attribute bite incidents to pit bulls when breed is undetermined.

What’s Wrong with Breed-Specific Laws? BSL carries a host of negative and wholly unintended consequences:

Dogs go into hiding
Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of highly regulated or banned breeds often attempt to avoid detection of their “outlaw” dogs by restricting outdoor exercise and socialization and forgoing licensing, microchipping and proper veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery and essential vaccinations. Such actions have implications both for public safety and the health of these dogs.

Good owners and dogs are punished
BSL also causes hardship to responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised and well-socialized dogs who happen to fall within the regulated breed. Although these dog owners have done nothing to endanger the public, they are required to comply with local breed bans and regulations unless they are able to mount successful (and often costly) legal challenges.

BSL imparts a false sense of security
Breed-specific laws have a tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. When limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, without regard to behavior, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making our communities safer: dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, anti-tethering laws, laws facilitating spaying and neutering and laws that require all owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed. BSL may actually encourage ownership by irresponsible people.

If you outlaw a breed, then outlaws are attracted to that breed. Unfortunately some people take advantage of the “outlaw” status of their breed of choice to bolster their own self image as living outside of the rules of mainstream society. Ironically, the rise of Pit Bull ownership among gang members and others in the late 1980’s coincided with the first round of breed-specific legislation.

What’s the Alternative to Breed-Specific Laws? Many other factors beyond breed may affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression—things such as heredity, sex, early experience, reproductive status, socialization and training. These last two concerns are well-founded, given that:

More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs. An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog. A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered.

97 percent of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered: 78 percent were maintained not as pets, but rather for guarding, image enhancement, fighting or breeding. 84 percent were maintained by reckless owners—these dogs were abused or neglected, not humanely controlled or contained, or allowed to interact with children unsupervised.

Recognizing that the problem of dangerous dogs requires serious attention, those against breed bans seek effective enforcement of breed-neutral laws that hold dog owners accountable for the actions of their animals.

Until Next Time Remember,