Breed Specific Legislation
Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is an issue that often affects pitbulls or other bully breeds. BSL restricts or bans dogs of certain breeds, typically including American Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, American Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Chow-Chows, Mastiffs, German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers. These breeds are assumed to be more aggressive, so restrictions are placed on them as a way of reducing dog attacks. BSL is a controversial topic and is often not supported by dog owners or dog professionals. Here are some of the issues with BSL.
The primary concern with BSL is that they attribute aggression to breeds, when aggression is caused by many factors. Dogs of any breed can become aggressive. Labeling dogs as aggressive causes a stigma on the breed. Not only does this prevent good owners from wanting these dogs, it encourages bad owners to want them. The pitbull is a loving family dog, but because of the stigma surrounding them gang members and drug dealers often use them as guard dogs. Attributing aggression to breeds can also inadvertently cause more dog attacks because people will assume dogs of non-restricted breeds are safer to be around and won’t be as careful. Dog bite statistics might imply that certain breeds are more prone to biting than others, but dog bite reports are misleading. Not all dog bites are reported, so the statistics are not representative of the truth. Also, many of the breeds on the list are popular dog breeds, so they are over-represented in the community. So it is not that the breed is more aggressive, it’s just that there are more dogs of that breed in the community, inflating the statistics.
The second major issue with BSL is labeling all dogs with a specific breed. For purebred dogs, this is easy enough but many mixed breeds can be mislabeled. There are many mixed breed dogs that look like a pitbull mix, but DNA analysis proves otherwise. Labeling breeds as aggressive causes other issues within a community. It makes it difficult for owners of those breeds to find housing or insurance, which can lead to them having to abandon their pet. Shelters become flooded with these restricted breeds that no one wants to adopt. Healthy, happy, adoptable dogs are overlooked simply because of their breed. Some dog owners will try to hide their dogs in order to prevent repercussions. They won’t walk them, take them to the vet, or get them properly licensed.
Finally, BSL has been proven to be ineffective in reducing dog attacks in communities that have enacted it. Not surprising that dog attack numbers were not reduced by these means, since as we mentioned, aggression is caused by a combination of factors. At TGDS, we believe each dog should be treated and evaluated as an individual. Unlike many daycares, we do not have breed restrictions. If a dog can pass our temperament evaluation, they are welcome to play! We do not agree with BSL. We encourage you to reach out to politicians or community leaders to prevent or overturn BSL. The best way to prevent dog attacks is by educating people on proper ways to interact with dogs, including recognizing stress signals that dogs give leading up to an attack. Children are the primary targets of dog attacks so it is important to teach your children to respect dogs and to give them space when they are uncomfortable.