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BSL: What It Is, and Why It Is Wrong

BSL stands for Breed Specific Legislation, and in short the best way to describe this concept is: people’s feeble way to address vicious dogs, without actually doing so in any logical, or even statistical way. It allows governments to go after specific breeds as a target for dog bite incidents in that area. The problem is we are blaming the wrong end of the leash! Any dog can be vicious, and this is more often than not, caused by human error, but certainly not limited to any one kind of dog, or even a sub category of dogs considered to vicous.

BSL goes after several breeds, but let’s face it the real “witches” in this witch hunt are the pit bulls. Further this makes BSL even more unfair because the group of dogs that fall into this “pit bull” category are actually several different types of dogs who may even be mixed, but the Center for Disease Control compares the incident of pit bull related dog bites to specific breeds. For example the Husky and Malamute are considered separately, but in the case of a the pit bull, two dogs who were this similar would both qualify, so really the group comparison is not a fair and accurate comparison. The proof should even be in their name; we capitalize the names of specific breeds, such as Doberman Pinscher, but we do not capitalize pit bull. The best reasoning I can give for this is that it would almost be like capitalizing the word “mutt.”

A few things I want to clear up right here and now: pit bulls jaws do not lock! Some say the pit bull’s jaw is as strong a crocodile, also not true. Now a few truths: The city of Denver has euthanized 4,000 pit bulls since 1989. These dogs were not temperament tested, or involved in any incidents, they simply were pit bulls living in Denver, taken from their loving homes, where most of them were companion animals-family pets! Now I am sorry, you don’t have to like pit bulls, and you can even be afraid of them, but this is plain wrong. In case you don’t believe me, check the statistics because Denver County has the highest incidents of dog bites resulting in hospitalization in the years between 1995 and 2010, and the breed that topped this dog bite list: The Golden Retriever! Who is the true danger here; these dogs to humans, or vice versa!

The media is shaping our opinions in a similar way that plane crashes scare us more than car crashes. To me the way the media reports on a pit bull dog bite is similar to a very heinous plane crash, whereas other dog bites by breeds such as Cocker Spaniels are reported on more in a fashion of a small car crash. The headlines involving pit bulls more often include the dog’s breed, whereas when it is any breed other than pit bull the headline usually reads “dog bite.” The word “attack” is very often used in conjunction with pit bull stories. Don’t let the media determine how you feel about these dogs, meet a few for yourself and see what you actually think, because if you think you are scared of pit bulls, after you meet one, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised!

Please don’t just take my word for it! Educate yourself about pit bulls, especially if you are fearful, because fear leads to irrationality, not only in people, but in dogs too, this is one of the reasons as a trainer I push so hard for dogs to be socialized and see lots of people and things, so they will know what they are, and not be afraid. The same applies to the knee jerk reaction of people towards pit bulls, perhaps if they educated themselves about these dogs, they would not be so fearful and want to be so aggressive towards them. I highly recommend taking an hour and half of your time and watch Libby Sherrill’s Beyond the Myth: http://www.beyondthemythmovie.com

You may be thinking that this doesn’t affect you. You might have read this whole blog thinking pit bulls are fine with you, but you will never have one, so it doesn’t really matter. Well it should matter to everyone! If it starts with pit bulls today where will it end? BSL is already spreading to Rottweilers, Huskies, Great Danes, and more, so don’t just sit back and think it cannot affect you because before we know it there will be more banned breeds than allowed. If we continue to think the problem is with a specific breed, and not in our own handling, training, socialization and treatment of that dog, the problem of vicious and dangerous dogs will continue to exist. The question is which breed the law makers will target next, will it be your dog?

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