Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in basic terms is a ban or restriction of a certain type or breed of dog. Dogs that are perceived as “dangerous” according to the ones that make the law(s). Often times many dogs are targeted solely because they may look like a particular banned breed. At no time do they take into consideration how it was trained, raised, or treated. They don’t even take into consideration that every dog (and breed) is different and so too is their behavior. This can be compared to racial profiling that we as a society have dealt with for years.
BSL is based on discrimination, lack of education of the breeds involved, and knowledge. Lets take for example the "Pit Bull” which is a type of breed. It’s actually a term used to categorize three different breeds. (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Terrier) There’s many breeds (and mixes) that have the look of a Pittie but are in fact a different breed totally. Sadly these breeds would also be targets.
These bans can and usually require the targeted breed to be removed from the restricted area. Often the dogs are then sentenced to death. Other times there are regulations (often costly) that an owner must follow. This depends on how the laws are worded. Unfortunately not all owners can follow these rigid rules and are forced to give up their beloved dog. This adds burden to shelters that are already struggling with the animals in their care.
Examples of BSL restrictions:
- Dogs are to be spayed and neutered.
- Muzzled in public.
- Housed in a kennel that meets their strict requirements.
- Specific sized leashes of a specific material are to be used.
- Owners must purchase costly liability insurance.
- “Vicious” dog signs must be posted at the dog’s residence.
- Must wear something that identifies them as “vicious” dogs.
Why BSL does not work effectively:
- Cost. (Requires people to enforce the laws, identify the dogs, and follow through with the punishments.)
- Focuses on the dogs and not bad owners. (Who allow dogs to bite, terrorize, and wreak havoc.)
- Bad owners are not reprimanded. (Therefore it does not improve public safety, prevent dog bites, or other issues that the laws were set up for in the first place.)
- Makes the “banned” breeds become more desirable to unsavory people aka criminals and bad owners.
Many anti-BSL supporters believe the best alternative is education. Also set reasonable rules for all dog owners to follow. Focus on better dog ownership as a whole and less on the types of dogs.
“Punish the deed not the breed…”