Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

The Problems with Dog Breed Specific Legislation

BSL stands for Breed Specific Legislation, which is a term that is commonly used to define specific laws that have been created to put certain restrictions on particular dog breeds and the owners of these particular dog breeds.  Generally these BSL laws restrict and or ban the ownership of specific dog breeds, or a general "type" of dog, without any consideration of owner responsibility, history of dog ownership, or past history of dog behavior.  When a state, city, or community introduces a Breed Specific Legislation law, the main purpose of the law is to protect the citizens of this community.  The goal of the law is to decrease the number of dog bite attacks by eliminating what some people call "dangerous" dog breeds in the community.  BSL is usually focused on specific breeds like: American Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, and all mixes of these breeds.  However many other breeds can also be effected by BSL, including Rottweilers, Doberman Pinchers, German Shepards, Bulldogs, and more.     


Breed Specific Legislation will not solve the problem of dog attacks for several reasons. First of all, outlawing a breed will not stop irresponsible people from secretly obtaining banned breeds and subsequently turning them into dangerous dogs through mistreatment and poor breeding practices. The better choice is to educate the public about responsible dog ownershipspay/neuter and ethical breeding practices. Laws should ban irresponsible ownership, not specific breeds, and those laws should be strictly enforced.

The major problem with BSL is that it can create a false sense of security. Any dog can bite, regardless of breed or background. Though there are several factors that can increase the the likelihood that a dog will bite. BSL is also flawed because it is difficult and expensive to enforce. This can apply to any breed or mix of breeds, but let's use the pit bull-type dog as an example. Many of the so-called "pit bulls" out there are mixed breed dogs or poor specimens of "purebred" American Pit Bull Terriers or American Staffordshire Terriers. It is impossible to tell what a dog's exact lineage is based on appearance alone. DNA testing is costly and not 100% accurate. Attempting to enforce breed bans may lead to lengthy court cases that cost taxpayers and dog owners a lot of time and money.

Most of all, BSL is unfair to responsible dog owners. Should an owner with a perfectly well behaved dog be forced to give up that dog just because it happens to "look" like a pit bull-type dog or other banned breed? The general consensus among animal advocacy groups is a resounding NO. The dog's behavior should dictate whether or not it is labeled a "dangerous dog," not its appearance.

Most all dogs are friendly and research shows that the type of breed has no effect on how "dangerous" or if it will increase the likely hood of a dog bite attack.  It is important that we know how to interact with dogs, that dog owners know how to train their dogs properly, and that we teach our children the proper ways to interactive with dogs.  Education is the answer not BSL.



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