Would you judge a dog based on its breed or appearance? How will you know if a dog is harmful or not? Apparently, a legislation called the Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) sees dogs as harmful and aims to regulate them. As stated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), BSL is a law that bans or regulates specific dog breeds intending to reduce attacks by dogs.
History Behind the Breed-Specific Legislation
It was in the early 1980s when the government introduced the said legislation to address the dog attacks that happened somewhere in Florida, United States. What kind of breed was involved? A pit bull.
For a long time, humans have domesticated dogs for different reasons. Unfortunately, one of those reasons is to bring up an aggressive breed to become fighting dogs, specifically pit bulls.
An article from Fetch by WebMD reveals that pit bulls were first intended for bear- and bull-baiting. Given their reputation, some people started raising them to be fighting dogs. Besides being in the arena, the breed was also favored by drug dealers and gang members who wanted a tough-looking dog, which became prevalent from 1975 to 1979.
Breeds Affected by BSL
Other than pit bulls, ASPCA says that Mastiffs, American Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers were also regulated.
In the U.S., ten states ban BSL while 40 states decreed breed-specific ordinances. Places that support BSL prohibit specific breeds of dogs and require owners to obtain a license to keep such breeds. In worst-case scenarios, many dogs are put up for euthanasia just because they "look" dangerous.
Challenges of Enforcing BSL
Difficult breed identification
The enforcement of breed-specific law seems simple. All you need to do is to keep dangerous dogs out of the community based on their appearance or breed.
But in reality, it isn’t that simple.
The American Veterinary Medical Association argues that it is challenging to distinguish purebred pit bulls from mixed ones. Additionally, it is hard to figure out a dog's breed by looking at its features or physical attributes, what more if it is a mixed breed.
The saying, “Don't judge the book by its cover,” applies to pups, too. As with humans, you can't tell if someone is dangerous or not based on their looks and without knowing them personally.
Responsible pet owners and their innocent pups both suffer because of how discriminatory BSL is. Even service dogs who are trained to be obedient are not spared. Thankfully, one law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, opposes BSL. It states that there is no restriction on the type of breeds allowed to be service dogs.
Encourages irresponsible pet ownership
Some pet parents may do everything to go under the radar, especially if their dog is a restricted breed. They might limit their pet's outdoor activities and training sessions, affecting their social development.
Pet parents may also ditch other responsibilities like spaying, neutering, microchipping, licensing, and regular veterinary visits in order to hide their dogs. However, skipping these may endanger the pet's health and welfare.
Breed-Specific Legislation Alternative
Various animal-related associations have taken their firm stand against the said legislation. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) emphasized that any dogs have a possibility to bite regardless of its sex, size, or breed. AVSAB further said that BSL is ineffective and fosters a false sense of safety in the community.
So what is the better alternative to BSL? The ASPCA recommends the Breed Neutral Legislation (BNL), which promotes the following practices:
- Affordable spay and neuter services are made more available to the public.
- Intensified implementation of dog license laws.
- Dogs are judged or assessed based on their behavior and not by their breed or appearance.
- Owners that fail to follow animal control laws are held financially accountable.
- If the pet attacks someone, the pet guardian might face civil or criminal complaints.
- Animal fighting and cruelty are prohibited.
- Tethering, chaining, and unjust confinement are prohibited.
These practices should be followed for the welfare of both owners and pets. Now, if you want a pet but you’re scared to break any law, we have an alternative solution.
Perfect Petzzz: Hassle-free Pet Ownership Experience
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On top of that, here in Perfect Petzzz, we love all dog breeds. In fact, our latest addition is a lovely life-like pitbull!
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