Posts Tagged ‘breed specific legislation’

I don’t do pit bulls anymore.

But he does.

Keep in mind that Mark Derr once had a neighbor with a bull terrier that broke the fence and came after his wife and catahoulas.

So for him to be against BSL really says a lot.

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This dog must belong to a drug dealer. How do I know? It's a pit bull. Thank you, Mr. Gelzinis, for your insights!

Pit Bull owners, you may tell us that you are upstanding members of community. You may even lack a criminal record. You may or may not be on crack or meth or lighter fluid. You may or may not have a desire to pop a cap in someone’s ass.

But you aren’t fooling Peter Gelzinis. I think it is no exaggeration that he  will be in the running for the Pulitzer after publishing this hard-hitting exposé on who you really are.

You may have fooled me into believing that you are intelligent, compassionate people who actually don’t believe in judging people or animals by the media hype.

You see, according to Gelzinis, you guy are thugs who “intimidation” to get your way. To you, the pit bull is like a machine gun or a pistol armed with “cop-killer” bullets.

Any attempt to regulate you miscreants is met with “intimidation.” You guys just can’t be civil.  I bet you guys just run into meeting and shout everyone down. I bet your brandish weapons and make death threats.

You really are a bunch of thugs, aren’t you?

You see, while we know from reputable sources like Fox News (the only news that tells the truth!) and the Boston Herald that pit bulls are the only dogs that attack people.

And when pit bulls attack. It is bloody. They rip arms off. They can shred beer cans with their teeth. And they can rip off the arms of rival drug dealers.

See, he has you pegged right there.

I didn’t know you guys were involved in the drugs so much.

Who would’ve known?

We can all thank Mr. Gelzinis for his enlightening piece, and we look forward to his future work.

He really did a lot of research on that piece.

I think he may have used the Google a few times.

And talked that that crank city councilor.

Really, really good investigative journalism.

If he’s nominated for a Pulitzer, he’s a shoe-in.

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3-year-old mauled by golden retriever.

Time to ban golden retrievers.

They are dangerous to humanity.

Can’t be trusted.


Just like a loaded gun–ready to go off at any time.

Miley, we’re on to you!

Miley running toward her prey.

Nota bene: In case you didn’t know, most of this post is satire.

Miley attacks only wasps (and by that I mean those of the paper variety, not White Anglo-Saxon Protestants).

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Breed specific legislation seems to be everywhere these days. Counties and towns throughout North America have banned all sorts of dogs, while others very strictly regulate certain breeds. To make matters worse, the entire province of Ontario has banned bull and terrier breeds. (This policy, needless to say, has been nearly impossible to enforce, and it’s not been very successful.)

The problem with BSL is that it’s based upon assumptions that people have about dog behavior. Now, I won’t deny that certain breeds have certain characteristics, but these characteristics are hardly absolutes. Different strains of the same breed often have different characteristics, as I often mention about working strain goldens and show strain goldens. And just because a dog comes from a certain breed or strain doesn’t mean it’s going to be a man-eater.

Now, these problems would be bad enough for BSL, but we have another problem with BSL. BSL is often based upon popular views of dog breeds, and sometimes, well, these popular views do not correspond with reality.

First of all, the most common breed that is regulated or banned under BSL is the pit bull. Now, that word “pit bull” is a nebulous definition. Lots of mixed breeds look like pit bulls, and there are several breeds that are closely related to the pit bull. I’ve never seen one of these laws enacted without lots of interesting non-pit bulls being picked up. Of course, they aren’t doing anything about the real problem, but it makes politicians look good.

A lot of attention is paid to the statistic that pit bulls and rottweilers were the most common breeds implicated in attacks that resulted in death. However, these statistics need to be put into context. Fatal dog attacks are quite uncommon. They represent 0.00001% of all dog bites.

It turns out that dog bites themselves are on the rise in the country. All sorts of dogs are biting. My beloved golden retriever is a major biting breed now, and everyone knows that German shepherds are a major cause of dog bites in this country. We do know that dog bites are a growing problem in this country and internationally.

However, drafted a statute that bans certain breeds, because they are perceived to be more aggressive, really isn’t a solution. There’s a very simple reason for this.

Dog that show aggression have aggressive behavior (wonderful tautology, I know). Behavior is variable in the domestic dog, and as I’ve said before, it varies among individuals and strains of the same breed. The rational response to the growing epidemic of canine aggression is to ban the behavior. If a dog shows aggression towards people, it is banned. It can be a pit bull, a Fila, a rottweiler, or a golden retriever. If it shows aggression, it gets the attention of the law.

Of course, these sorts of laws can also be abused. It seems that any dog with predatory behavior is deemed “aggressive” under some of these proposed statutes. That’s why I think any aggressive dog law has to be based upon aggression towards people. Most dogs that consider cats prey are not aggressive towards people. A cat killing dog might make his owners liable for the cost of replacing the cats and their vet bills, but he’s generally not a threat to people.

The second thing you do to reduce dog bites is to encourage municipalities to have off-leash dog parks. Why? Well, I don’t know if anyone has seen the dog bite statistics from France, but the French don’t have the dog bite numbers in proportion to their population that we do. The reason why they don’t have the dog bites is really quite simple. Dogs are socialized there more,  simply because dogs are allowed more places than they are here. Further, they also have extensive off-leash exercise areas where the dogs can meet different people and other dogs. They can learn the rules of society, and they have an outlet for their energy and need for mental stimulation. (They do have BSL in France for bull and terrier types, but the French have their own “bad” breeds, which aren’t banned at all.)

The final thing that has to be done is to encourage breeders of all breeds to choose dogs that have docile or at least tractable dispositions. For some breeders, like some of those who breed Filas and Caucasian Ovtcharkas, what I’ve just suggested is an anathema.

But I’m not just talking about those breeds.

If people would stop breeding golden retrievers that have possessive aggression (even though some idiots think it’s cute!), then you’d see that breed lose some of its reputation for aggression.

If we really took dog aggression seriously, we could reduce the number of dog bites significantly. And we could do it without hauling in all the innocent dogs of a particular breed.

I do think we need to take the growth of canine aggression very seriously. If dog bites really become a severe problem, it will become very hard to keep dogs of any breed. And it’s up to all informed and concerned dog people to ensure that the most intelligent policies are implemented to make sure that dog bites really are prevented.

BSL makes politicians look good. It creates a scapegoat, but it’s very unlikely to work.  We don’t need the veneer of good intentions. We need policies that actually address the problems.

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The petition is here.

Why do I oppose breed specific legislation?

Pit bulls are the breed most often targeted. Pit bulls are not a breed. They are a type. Various dogs look like pit bulls, so al sorts of dogs can be deemed dangerous, even if they are nice Lab mixes. The Pit bull classification is a nebulous term.

Some lines of Pit Bull are very aggressive, game bred animals.  Most lines aren’t of this type. However, it’s very possible to buy a nice “American stafforshire terrier,” and maybe get a dog that bites someone. That does not mean that we need breed specific legislation.

Even if pit bulls are banned, there are dozens of other breeds that are bigger and even more likely to be aggressive than pit bulls or any of the other breeds usually mentioned in these laws. There are all sorts of fighting dogs from the developing world that could be imported as replacements for pit bulls.

Further, there are too many nice pit bulls around and too many nasty golden retreivers. Our idea about which dog is super-aggressive is really a matter of culture. Goldens might be a top biting breed now, but I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to ban them.

Finaly, if pit bulls or any other breed is banned, the owners will simply go underground. The dogs won’t get the vet care they need. In Ontario, where there is a total ban on bull and terrier breeds, the dogs still live there, but the law is haphazardly enforced. This means that there are lots of dogs living in the shadows. Do we really want dogs living in the shadows?

We do need laws to stop super-aggressive dogs. However, I’ve seen super aggression in Labs, and that breed is deemed the all-American family pet (even though it’s a Canadian-British breed.) We need laws that regulate bad dog behavior and irresponsible ownership.

Breed specific legislaton is a good thing for politicians to run on. Every pit bull attack is sensationalized, almost as badly as every missing white girl. But as a sound policy, it must be opposed. We have to think about the real unintended consequences of such a policy.

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