Wrongful discrimination of dog breed in California

Kelly Roehrig

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Dogs are not just an accessory for their owners, but an extension of their family. For the most part they are loved and only love in return, yet cities across the United States are instilling Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) that would ban people from owning certain breeds of dog, namely the pit bull.

BSL targets certain breeds of dogs and makes owning these breeds illegal within city limits. Recently San Francisco and Washington D.C. have enacted pit bull bans, and have killed over a thousand pit bulls and pit bull-like dogs each. The genocide of innocent animals under the guise of public safety must end, before any more families lose their loved ones.

According to the Animal Humane Society, BSL can be defined as “the banning or restriction of specific breeds of dogs considered ‘dangerous’ breeds, such as pit bull breeds, Rottweilers and German shepherds.” It is a common answer to dog attacks and dog fighting, but often falls short on its claim to solve the problem of dog violence.

“There is little evidence that supports BSL as an effective means of reducing dog bites and dog attacks,” said the Animal Humane Society. “On the contrary, studies have shown that it is not the breeds themselves that are dangerous, but unfavorable situations that are creating dangerous dogs.”

The vast majority of dog attacks are carried out by animals that have been mistreated or have owners that are simply not educated on the responsibilities that come for caring for a dog. According a study conducted by Jeffrey J. Sacks, MD, MPH; Leslie Sinclair, DVM; Julie Gilchrist, MD; Gail C. Golab, PhD, DVM and Randall Lockwood, PhD on the breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks between 1979 and 1998 found that although Pit-Bull types and Rottweilers were responsible for half of the attacks, “At least 25 other breeds were involved in 238 attacks,” and the vast majority, 82 percent, of the attacks occurred by unrestrained dogs, the owners fault not the breed.

Pit-Bull Terriers find themselves at the top of the list of aggressive dogs when in reality seemingly lovable breeds such as the cocker spaniel, chihuahua and dachshund also find themselves on the list of Top 10 Dogs that Bite list by Listcrown.com.

In Washington D.C., protesters gathered to push against BSL on May 3 where emotions ran high. Speaker Rebecca Correy said to the crowd, “Today we are sending the message to legislators on the federal, state and local levels that killing and banning the victim is not and never will be OK, or the answer.” The dogs are not at fault here, it is their owners who neglect their responsibilities when they choose to become a pet owner.

Not only is the pursuance of a specific breed of dog not a viable solution, it is also costly. “BSL is enforced by animal control agencies on tight budgets, expanding their duties without necessarily expanding their budget,” said the Animal Humane Society, “As an example, one county in Maryland spent more than $560,000 maintaining pit bulls (not including payroll, cross-agency costs and utilities), while fees generated only $35,000.”

But the financial cost is nothing compared to the emotional cost of the families who have lost their loved ones over a false fear that is perpetuated by stereotypes. “A breed ban removes well-loved dogs from their families even if neither dog nor owner has ever caused any problems,” said StopBSL.org. “Breed bans force families to give up family members; children can be traumatized by the removal of their ‘best friend,’ especially since there is no good way to explain why the government wants to destroy a friendly, loving companion.”

Furthermore the ban of certain breeds of dog simply do not work. Take Denver for example, they have had a Pit-Bull ban for decades yet they still experience anywhere from 400 to 500 dog attacks each year.

Taking away the victims has not and will never work. It is time that legislators look for an answer for these dog attacks and focus on the people not the human eugenics experiment, because after all dogs are the most genetically modified species and are not naturally found in the world without human intervention. That is how a dog as small as a chihuahua and a dog as large as a Great Dane can be a part of the same species, because humans made it so. If humanity can diversify a species so much through breeding the least they can do is become educated and responsible dog owners, and legislation can help this by punishing the owners of dogs who attack people with more than a measly fine.