Dogs are a product of their environments, and we, as pet owners, have a responsibility to train them properly to ensure the safety of those around us. Bad dogs come from bad owners, yet some breeds, like pit bulls and rottweilers, have been targeted by breed-specific legislation (BSL) that attempts to regulate or ban these dogs in many communities throughout the U.S. However, BSL is ineffective and expensive to enforce. We need to look beyond breed and focus on the owners who encourage bad behavior in their pets. We can start with these steps:
- Review existing pet laws. Before rushing to create new laws that could potentially punish good dogs and good dog owners, let’s review what we already have. License and leash laws are widespread and exist to hold owners accountable for their pets. However, in many places these laws appear to be loosely enforced.
- Make breed-neutral laws. Any laws regarding pets should be breed-neutral, focusing both on the individual dog and its owner. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study on dogs that found a number of other factors beyond genetics contribute to aggressive tendencies. While genetics have played a role in some cases, these are few and far between and don’t speak for the breed as a whole.
- Shelters and rescues should require sterilization. The same CDC study also found that 97 percent of fatal dog attacks and more than 70 percent of all dog bites in 2006 involved unsterilized dogs. As a condition of adoption, new pet owners should have to make sure their pets are spayed or neutered. This is a policy we implement at Peace & Paws, and most of our adoptable dogs are sterilized prior to meeting their new families. For those that aren’t, we provide adopters with information on where to go. Fortunately, N.H. and most New England states have programs to give families an affordable option to alter their pets.
We couldn’t possibly imagine life without our pit bull mixes Twinkle, Nugget, Juicy and Dink. Any owner of a “dangerous breed” will tell you that these dogs can be just as caring and loving as any others. BSL laws are passed based on misinformation, and it’s time to place the responsibility back where it belongs: with the owners. Visit the American Humane Association’s website for more information on breed-specific legislation.
Written by By Bo and Melissa Hannon, founders, Peace and Paws
Have you been affected by BSL (breed-specific legislation)?