What if one day the city or county where you live decides to make it illegal for residents to own a particular breed of dog? How would that make you feel?
Worse yet, what if you own that particular breed of dog? What would you do?
You might think that in the United States of America, a country built on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it isn’t possible for someone to tell you what kind of dog you can own, but you’d be wrong. It’s very possible and in fact, it’s already happening in cities all over the country.
Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL, means that a city, town, or county can create laws that ban certain dog breeds. It doesn’t matter if you’re a responsible dog owner. It doesn’t matter if yours is the perfect dog who’s always well-behaved and has never caused a problem.
If you live in an area that decides to implement BSL, you’ve got 2 choices: move or get rid of your dog. Otherwise, you’re breaking the law and your dog could be seized, impounded, and destroyed.
Yikes. That doesn’t sound like The Land of The Free to me.
Take a look at the infographic below, and then let’s chat some more about BSL and why it doesn’t work.
We know that BSL doesn’t work when we look at the results. Take the city of Denver, Colorado, for example. In 1989, Denver enacted a Pit Bull ban with a goal of making the county safer for its residents. That’s an honorable mission, but apparently something went wrong, because it doesn’t appear to be working.
From 1995 to 2006, Denver recorded more dog bite hospitalizations than other counties in Colorado without Pit Bull bans. Oops, how did that happen?
Even with its Pit Bull ban in place for nearly 20 years, you can see from the graph below that Denver County still records a greater number of dog bites than surrounding areas that do not practice breed discrimination. Take a look.
And interestingly enough, of all the dog bites reported in Denver from 2003 to 2008, breeds other than Pit Bulls made up the majority of the injuries.
Clearly, getting rid of Pit Bulls in Denver County hasn’t solved anything. It hasn’t made the city safer, but it has destroyed many families and broken many hearts.
As of 2014, it’s estimated that 3,500+ Pit Bulls have been put to death as a result of the Denver Pit Bull ban, and yet the area is still reporting a larger number of dog bites than any of the surrounding areas.
Numbers don’t lie, and statistics like these prove that banning dog breeds doesn’t solve the problem. So what does?
Responsible dog ownership.
Only by being a responsible dog owner can we show the world that our dogs are not to be feared. Only by being a responsible dog owner can we debunk the myth that only thugs and dog fighters own Pit Bulls. It is imperative that we:
- Properly vet our dogs – keep them up-to-date on immunizations and make sure they’ve been spayed or neutered. An altered dog is far less likely to attack than an intact dog.
- Properly socialize our dogs – our dogs must be trained to behave properly when at home and in public. You’re doing a disservice to your pet if you fail to socialize and train it.
- Leash your dog when you’re off your own property – avoid mishaps with other animals and people by keeping your dog properly restrained. No exceptions.
- Do not leave your dog on a chain in the yard – lonely, unsocialized, neglected yard dogs are much more likely to defend their territory and attack than dogs that are treated as beloved family pets.
- Know your local animal control laws and abide by them.
Can you think of other ways we can fight BSL?
I’d love for you to leave a comment below, or join the conversation over on our Facebook page!