What the hell is BSL? I know the answer but still ask the question. Breed Specific Legislation refers to laws that ban or place regulations on certain breed types. In most cases, breeds are completely banned. In counties and states where BSL bans exist, even the most well-behaved, properly trained dogs are removed from their home for no other reason than “conforming” to the outlawed breed. There is no way to keep the dog just because he’s a “good dog” and has no violent history. The dogs are then euthanized or in rare cases, sent to rescue groups and organizations that fall outside the BSL county or state jurisdiction.
What are the most commonly restricted breeds? American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Chow Chows, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, American Bulldogs, and Mastiffs.
I live in Miami-Dade County, a place where BSL completely bans “Pit Bull Dogs”. According to Miami-Dade Municipal Code, Section 5-17, a Pit Bull Dog is any dog that “substantially conforms to the standards established by the American Kennel Club” for the following breeds: American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers or any other dog that displays characteristics of these breeds. Yes, even if a dog has a teeny resemblance to one of these breeds, he will be confiscated and the owner slapped with a $500 fine. These Pits end up at Miami-Dade Animal Shelter. Some are successfully adopted by residents in neighboring counties or sent to outside rescue groups but most are euthanized within hours or days.
Blanket restrictions on certain breeds are not only unfair, they’re ignorant. Not all Pit Bulls are aggressive man-eaters just like not all Maltese’s are fluffy bundles of joy. Instead of punishing a breed, why not punish the owner of the dangerous dog, no matter what breed? As a volunteer at Miami-Dade Animal Services, I see Pit Bulls come in constantly who have been seized for no other fault than because they resemble a Pittie. When I take them out to play, the vast majority are extremely loving and gentle. Some came from families with kids; many are just happy at the chance to give a human some big slobbery kisses. And sadly, most are put down. Meanwhile there is no proof BSL reduces dog attacks.
Texas and New York enacted owner-specific laws or “breed-neutral legislation”, meaning dog owners are directly responsible for their dogs. These laws address dangerous dogs and reckless owners and are a proven effective method in reducing dog attacks. Owners are charged and required to fulfill a number of requirements (spay/neuter, no tethering, etc.) that have been proven to reduce dog bites. Did you know more than 70% of dog bites come from unneutered male dogs? Both TX and NY are against BSL and recognize ultimately, owners are responsible for their dogs and it is not fair to place restrictions based on breed alone. Hopefully, other states and counties will start to recognize the same truths.
What do you think about BSL? Here’s my opinion 😉 ::
If you’d like to read more about breed-neutral laws, check out why the ASPCA favors these laws over breed-specific legislation here.