The Breed-specific Legislation is not the Answer: Truth About Breed Discrimination

Published: 2021-09-29 13:20:10
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When most people think about discrimination, they typically think of a person being discriminatory to another for their race, gender or various other reasons. Very rarely do we think of animals being discriminated. Now most people will ask how can you discriminate against an animal? If I asked you to what you think of a dog that most people are scared of what is the first one that comes to mind? Most people will answer with a Pit bull or some other high muscled large dog. Isn’t that exactly what discrimination is? Assuming something or someone is a certain way based on how they look or what they belong to instead of who they are as an individual. Although many dog breeds have felt their share of the “too dangerous” stigma I’m going to focus mostly on Pit Bulls since they are currently battling the system. If you do a search online for the most dangerous dogs currently the top will be Pit Bulls, closely followed by German Shepard’s, Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers. After that they tend to vary on the person writing the story. Each of these dogs were bred for different things, herding, hunting, guarding, but mainly they look intimidating. Walk down the street with them and your likely to be avoided.
The media doesn’t help peoples fear of a breed when they over report on specific stories of certain breeds like the pit bull and under report on stories with other “more cuddly” types of breeds. states that the National Canine Research Council had issued a report that shows how similar dog attacks over four days resulted in significantly different media exposure. Even the ASPCA has said they have been told continuously by reporters that they don’t care about attacks that don’t involve pit bulls.The perfect example of people and the media discriminating against certain breeds and assuming that because they look a certain way they must also act that way, is a dog named Lennox, who had lived in Northern Ireland. He made world news and even though he sadly lost the battle of discrimination, he shows us how horrible its consequences can truly be. Lennox was an American bull dog/Labrador mix that looked like what many people think of as “the pit bull.” Now pit bull is a broad term not applying to one specific breed of dog, according to and other sites like it. The term is used to include the American pitbull terrier and American Staffordshire terrier, Bull terrier and others breeds, including those with a mix of these breeds. Officers of Belfast, Ireland, came into Lennox’s home and after measuring his body and snout, stated he was a “possible pit bull type breed” and was swiftly taken from his home to be locked up and put to death. Although the family had had him neutered, registered and DNA tested, according to they were threatened by the council who took him, demanding they sign off on Lennox “being destroyed”. Many people were outraged by this and even celebrities spoke up against what was happening.Unfortunately after 2 years of fighting, even with so many people and evidence backing him and his family and people speaking up to giving the council other options instead of euthanasia, the system failed him. The family was denied the ability to see him one last time which they only assume this was due to the horrible conditions he was placed in and the courts not wanting it to be seen.Lennox shows us that fear leads to discrimination and that can lead down some sad and dangerous roads. He suffered because of a law called the Breed Specific Law, or BSL, even though he hadn’t been apart of the group it is targeting. This Law was passed to regulate certain dog breeds, ones that the government felt were too dangerous or caused to much fear. It try’s to limit ownership of these dogs under the assumption that they are “born bad” and allows the government to seize and euthanize a dog on little more then how the dog looks. There are 3 different layers to the breed specific law, a complete breed band in which you can’t own them, a looser version of the law is to automatically label them, “possibly dangerous”, in which an owner would be required to do certain things, including but not limited to, muzzling when off property, required micro chipping, and Beware of dog sign. The third choice a state can choose is required spaying/neutering and registering, which can include a higher fee.
Thankful not everyone believes this and according to an article by the huffington post, earlier this year Nevada became the 14th state to ban the breed specific law. They believe those who are responsible and can use proper safety should be allowed to own whatever dog breed they choose. Should we lock up people just because they are a certain race, assuming they will all be criminals? No, although this law is a horribly bad way to go about it, the law is at its core meant to protect people. Studies have shown that no one breed is more likely to show inappropriate aggression then another, its based on the dog’s individual personality and environment, not the dog itself, and just like some people, some dogs have a higher tolerance and/or lower tolerance for things. Its not dictated by our gender or our race but by our personalities and our experiences within our lives leading up to that point. Unfortunately the only thing the laws protect is dogs not being able to find good homes and/or automatically being euthanized for being what they were born and nothing else. It doesn’t stop people from buying these dogs and using them for things like attack dogs or fighting dogs. Sadly, pitbulls are one of the favorites when it comes to things like dog fighting; they are smart, strong and eager to please those they hold dear. This mixed with their high pain tolerance and strong jaw makes them a formidable opponent, especially when they are fighting for their lives against something else. It is also why many people are scared of them, they can be intimidating especially since they can also be very energetic and do not realize their size. Most people assume that even the dogs who are put into a life of fighting will never been a good dog again.
This isn’t always true, the perfect example is Micheal Vick’s dogs.49 of the 53 dogs were fighting dogs and after the arrest of Micheal Vick and his associates only 1 was deemed too aggressive to be able to be rehabilitated and then be adopted out or given a job. Along with jail and his other fines Vick was required to pay about $928,000 as restitution for the dogs. Although it was a small price to pay for what he put the dogs, who never had an option to say no, through it allowed them to go the best facilities to help rehabilitate them. It gave them a second chance, some have gone to new homes, others have become police dogs, but amazingly a few have even become therapy dogs. The scars of their past will never go away but loving people and families, a warm bed and permanent homes will help heal their hearts.Traditionally, throughout history pitbulls were actually dubbed the nanny dog and can be seen pictured with children. That being said children are the highest cases per year of dog bites.
Usually this is due to children messing around with a dog they either aren’t supposed to be or in ways they shouldn’t be. Even the sweetest Golden Retriever will bite a child that is pulling its tail or hitting it. This doesn’t mean its the child’s fault either, they don’t know how to treat another animal, they are just as likely to be attacked by another animal as they are a dog. Parents need to step up and not only properly train their dog but also teach children how to act around all pets. If a child or a dog can not be trusted to behave themselves they shouldn’t be left, without supervision. Children and adults also need to be learn not to go up to a dog, or animal, they don’t know without asking first. The dog maybe a good dog but might have a fear that you don’t know about, such as kids or touching their ears. A dog that bites typically will do so in defense or out of fear.Throughout the years many breeds have been discriminated against and still bare the residual scars of this, but they have gotten through it with the help of people who understand them and will give them a voice since they can’t stand up for themselves. What people need to realize is we made them, all dogs, and we continue to make them who they are. Most people breed dogs without a thought and not only are over breeding but we aren’t paying attention to the personalities of those bred, which it can lead to personality dysfunctions, like anxiety issues, and can later lead to issues down the road. Many adults, just as much as children, need to learn how to better act around dogs. We have fought for people to be equal, dogs should be no different. The whole breed shouldn’t be held accountable for the actions of a few anymore then a race or religion or gender should be. Irresponsible pet owners should be held accountable as much as the dog is. All dogs can be as dangerous as much as they can be loving and gentle and although the core idea of the Breed Specific Law, to keep people safe, is a good one the law itself is flawed and doesn’t work.

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