Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not the Dog's Day

I just heard last night that the city of Lakewood passed a ban against owning pit bulls. I am deeply ashamed that such a progressive city would pass such an ignorant ban. Pit Bull is not even a specific breed but a term used to describe several breeds, one even recognized by the AKC!

I understand that there are qualities about the breed that scare people, even pit bull rescues admit that there has been an urge to fight other dogs bred into them over the years. But as a devoted fan of the Doberman Pincher I can totally sympathize with what every responsible pit bull owner is feeling.

What scares me is the reprecussions of this legislation. Not only are you going to send the "bad guys" looking for another status breed to turn mean, but you are going to scare the people that presently own the dogs into just letting them onto the streets to avoid getting fined. You cannot turn them into a shelter, no shelter will take them. And who has the heart to turn their family member into the dog warden when they know that the dog is going to be put to sleep?

Ignorance is what passed this ban, bottom line. People who don't understand dogs, love dogs, and who let fear rule over their own common sense. What next, ban Chihuahuas? What about Chows- who have a bite rate 7 times higher than a Pit Bull? How about America's favorite dog, the Golden Retriever, another breed with a higher bite rate. But the media doesn't report on dog bites from those breeds...

Breed specific ordinances are quick fixes and not a sufficient long term solution for the following reasons:
1. Dog problems are generally problems with owner responsibility and are not limited to breeds. When breeds are singled out as dangerous or vicious, responsibility is removed from the dog owner which is where it belongs. Irresponsible people are also less likely to follow the law - and as a result, everyone has to suffer.
2. By limiting the ability of citizens to own certain breeds, responsible law abiding citizens will shy away from those breeds. These are the types of owners that communities need to encourage, not drive away.
3. Communities that have instituted such bans often find that the irresponsible owners and the criminals who use dogs for illegal purposes simply switch to another breed.
4. Breeds and mixes are hard to identify and often dogs are mis labeled and destroyed based on paranioa and prejudice and also punishes those that are good canine citizens. Many breeds function as assistance dogs for handicapped owners, search and rescue dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, police dogs, etc. and drives them out of the community.
The American Veterinary Medical Association and several state veterinary medical associations oppose breed-specific legislation for just this reason.
5. The dog most restricted is the "pit bull." A pit bull is a type of dog, not a recognized breed.
6. Passage of laws that are only enforced through complaints cause two problems: 1) they create disrespect for the law if authorities require compliance only upon complaint, and 2) they provide ammunition for neighborhood feuds.

~Pit Bull Rescue Central


kmr1108 said...

Hey Sistah---back off the Chihuahuas! :)

Families Against Breed Bans said...

What a great post! It is a sad state of affairs when legislation is passed based on fear and paranoia due to sensational news reporting, rather than educated decisions based on studies by qualified animal behaviorist who agree that irresponsible owners will always be the correlating factor in what determines a dog's behavior irrespective of the breed. With this in mind how does BSL ensure community safety when so many breeds are owned by irresponsible people? Very sad and very naive.

Lauren & Jamie said...

Connie- hey there...Lauren from camp. I'm so sorry to hear about this news. MN tried to pass a piece of legislature simular to this, but it included 7 different breeds. Whats scary to me is in the Netherlands, they began with a BSL piece to include 5 breeds...not it includes (i think) 35 including common breeds that find homes with most families...people now have to carry "breed papers"....sounds a bit like nazi germany to me....

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