Punishment of the Innocent

BSL places unreasonable burdens on responsible dog owners, tears families apart, and kills innocent dogs.

“Dangerous” No Matter What

Animal control officers agree that responsible dog owners are not the problem, no matter what breed of dog they own. Responsible dog owners put great effort into properly containing and maintaining their pet dog.

But despite the fact that they and their dog may be doing all the right things, this effort is no longer acceptable when breed-specific legislation passes. Breed-specific legislation, which places restrictions or bans on dogs because of how they look, negatively affects responsible dog owners because there is absolutely no focus on the owner’s behavior. All extra requirements expected of the dog owner hinge entirely on what the owner’s dog looks like.

In effect, breed-specific legislation says that a dog’s behavior is dictated by its appearance, and therefore an owner’s treatment of the dog has no effect on the dog’s behavior at all. BSL subtly suggests that dog owners do not need to train, socialize, or properly manage their dog; that as long as the dog looks “safe,” the owner may do as he or she pleases, and if the dog looks “dangerous,” there’s nothing the owner can do to make it “safe.” Of course, this goes against everything we know about canine behavior.

Extra Steps For the People Who Need It the Least

Responsible dog owners who own targeted breeds under BSL must follow strict containment rules, purchase expensive insurance, muzzle their dog, spay or neuter their dog, or, in the case of a ban, get rid of their pet.

All these requirements despite the fact that responsible owners usually have already spayed/neutered their pet, spent money and time on obedience training, spent money or effort to properly contain and monitor their dog at all times, and taken extra steps to ensure that their dogs are wonderful pets.

Meanwhile, irresponsible owners of both targeted and non-targeted types of dogs freely flout the law even when breed-specific restrictions are added.

Yet another injustice is that the irresponsible owner of a targeted breed may face a fine for violating the law, but the dog—who has had no say whatsoever as to the manner of his upbringing, environment, or training—is typically killed as a consequence of the owner’s mistake. And the irresponsible owner goes out and gets a new dog to mistreat.

Running Off Responsible Owners

These added restrictions on certain types of dogs drives responsible owners away from these types of dogs because it’s too much of a hassle, it’s embarrassing, or it’s simply unaffordable. Consequently, the only targeted-breed owners left are irresponsible ones. Ohio has experienced this situation; despite 20+ years of statewide breed-specific legislation that declared all “pit bull”-type dogs automatically vicious, Ohio had an ever-increasing population of problematic pit bulls and their equally problematic owners. Ohio dog wardens struggled to deal with the problem, while responsible owners steered clear of the breed-type due to the BSL. Ohio’s statewide BSL was repealed in 2012.

Breaking Up Families

Responsible dog owners consider their dogs members of the family. They love their dogs, and they invest a lot of money into the health and happiness of their dogs.

A breed ban removes well-loved dogs from their families even if neither dog nor owner has ever caused any problems. 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.

Breed restrictions often have the same effect. In some cases, people cannot keep their dog because the legislation requirements are too expensive or problematic. In other cases, the restrictions are so humiliating and stigmatizing that, to avoid being perceived as a criminal or a thug, a person might give up his or her dog.

None of this affects irresponsible owners. Such owners see dogs as disposable objects that can be thrown out as soon as they become too troublesome to own. For people who don’t mind being perceived as thugs, or who are simply going to ignore the law anyway, BSL is not the least bit punitive or troublesome.

Killing Innocent Dogs

At what price the illusion of safety? Studies have proven that breed-specific legislation does not reduce dog bites or improve public safety. Non-targeted breeds continue to bite and do severe—and sometimes fatal—damage.

Yet tens of thousands of guiltless dogs of targeted breeds have been and continue to be rounded up and killed in the name of breed-specific legislation.

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