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BREED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION
INFORMATION AND INSURANCE DISCRIMINATION
BREED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION (BSL)
"Addressing the real issues of crime, poverty, animal
abuse, ignorance, greed and man's lust for violence is far too daunting
a task for most people and so we blame the dogs for our societal
ills." ~Karen Delise
"One of the greatest delusions in the world is the
hope that the evils of this world are to be cured by legislation."
~Thomas B. Reed (1886)
First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t
speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because
I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because
I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to
speak up for me. ~ Martin Niemöller
Breed Specific Legislation is based on the idea that certain breeds
are inherently bad and are more likely to cause harm to humans than
any other breed of dog. This premise of Breed Specific
Legislation, or BSL, is wrong because it bases a dog's behavior
solely on the physical characteristics of a dog, rather than the
temperament and character of the individual animal.
BSL is as wrong and prejudicial as saying that ALL young, inner
city black males are gang members, or ALL muslims are terrorists.
All dogs share the same genetic code, despite physical characteristics
that can be dramatically different. From Chihuahuas to Mastiffs,
from Poodles to German Shepherds. It is man who has created differences
in the breeds by selectively breeding for certain traits.
In the US, anyone can breed dogs. Reputable and responsible breeders
breed to improve their chosen breed. These kinds of breeders have
spent many years researching and studying pedigrees and genetics,
and they have spent thousands of dollars in showing and trialing
their dogs, and in health testing to ensure the dogs they are breeding
are free of genetic disease. Breeding partners are carefully screened
and selected to set correct temperament, health, conformation and
specific desireable traits. They carefully screen prospective puppy
buyers to ensure that their puppies go to responsible, loving homes,
and they sell their puppies with contracts that guarantee health,
and require specific performance from their owners, such as the
spaying and nuetering of pet quality dogs. These are not the kinds
of dogs or owners that are involved in dog attacks that grab headlines
in the media or attract public attention.
Unfortunately, not everyone who wants or owns a dog is a responsible
owner, or provides a good home for their animals. Their chances
of getting a dog from a reputable breeder are practically zero.
However, there are breeders who breed solely for profit, or for
a multitude of wrong reasons. The pairing of two dogs is given little
thought as long as there is money in it, or they get what they want
out of it. Bad temperaments, poor genetics, and socialization of
what they produce doesn't matter, because after their puppies are
sold, they never give them a second thought. They don't care who
buys them, as long as they can pay. There are also those that are
bred and raised specifically to encourage aggressive characteristics.
These kind of people want guard dogs to protect their drug businesses,
or dogs to use in highly profitable dog fights. Again, the motivation
is financial, and they do not have any regard for the public or
their animal's well being. Of course there are also the well intentioned,
but still irresponsible breeder that wants to have another dog like
their "Fluffy", or that wants their children to witness
the miracle of birth, or that lets their intact animals roam the
neighborhood where they can be bred by any intact dog. Bottom line,
the dogs are not the problem, it is the people who own them that
are the problem.
In most cases, these kinds of dogs are poorly bred, poorly socialized,
and poorly cared for. It doesn't make them bad dogs, they have just
been cursed with bad owners. They may have spent their entire life
chained up and neglected in the backyard. They may have been removed
from their littermates at too young of an age, which happens when
the "backyard breeder" gets tired of all the extra work
and expense that a litter of puppies brings, thus the puppies miss
out on the critical canine socialization stage that occurs between
week 6 and 8. An important time to be with their littermates. Missing
this stage of social skills can make a dog aggressive to other dogs.
A dog that goes bad may have been beaten and abused, making it dog
fearful of humans. It may have been starved, fed and watered only
when convenient, or deprived of necessary medical care, turning
a domestic animal feral, and revert to its animal instincts for
survival. The dog may not have been properly socialized, both as
a puppy and a growing dog, thus making an adult dog that is highly
territorial and lacking the skills to get along with unknown humans
or animals. The dog may have owners that do not understand basic
canine behavior, and put their dog into situations that it is not
equipped to handle. There are also owners that intentionally make
a dog mean and aggressive, either to fight the dog, or because it
makes them feel more masculine to have a tough dog.
In all of these examples, these are PROBLEMS CAUSED BY
HUMANS. It is our dogs that pay the price for the acts
of irresponsible humans, and BSL equates to ALL dogs of a given
breed paying the price, even when no aggressive act or crime has
been committed. That is why BSL is wrong, why it doesn't work, and
why the root of the problem, and ultimately the solution, needs
to be addressed with people, not the dogs.
BSL does nothing to prevent irresponsible owners from perpetuating
problems that result in injury to humans and other animals. In
fact, it compounds it. Law abiding and responsible owners will comply
with laws, no matter how much they may dislike or disapprove of
them. Irresponsible owners and those that live outside of the law
will not comply, and the root of the problem continues. BSL unjustly
penalizes good owners and break up families, and does nothing to
punish the problem owners by not holding them accountable for their
actions. If one breed is banned, they simply move on to
another, and continue to perpetuate the problem with yet another
breed of dog. All dog owners should be held responsible
for the actions of their animals. Only then will people begin to
understand, when the consquences become too high. Of course most
people who are opposed to this kind of reasonable legislation, legislation
that actually works, are the people who are irresponsible owners.
All responsible owners faced with BSL in their communities need
to encourage your law makers to enact non-breed specific dangerous
dog ordinances, that protect citizens from ALL dangerous dogs, without
penalizing the good owners, and their well behaved family pets.
In most cases, laws that are already on the books are sufficient,
IF they are enforced. Enacting more laws is not
the answers, but gives politicians a vehicle to make their constituents
feel like they are actually doing something, at the expense of our
Get involved. Become active in the legislative processes of your
state and local governments. At no other time are our rights as
dog owners so at risk as they are now. The animal rights movements
are behind the legislation that is sweeping this nation like wildfire.
They want to take away YOUR RIGHTS to your animals, not
only through BSL, but through mandatory spay/neuter laws, anti-tethering
laws, and laws that eliminate your rights as a pet owner by introducing
"guardianship" to replace "ownership".
RECENT PET FOOD RECALLS
What's even more scary than the obvious about all of the recent
pet food recalls is that now the AR people are talking about it
being a good time to push through their "guardianship"
legislation agenda, on the premise that because pets are considered
property, lawsuits over the death of pets resulting from tainted
food will be limited to the value of the property, vet bills and
expenses specifically related to the death of the animal.
Their plan is to capitalize on the anger, frustration, and sense
of fear that people have about this issue and turn it into a burning
platform based on outrage, rather than common sense. This is a good
time for them to get "buy-in" from the pet owning public
who don't understand the bigger picture, and just see the emotional
side of it.
The AR movement's plan is to work on guardianship legislation,
and play off the fact that people whose pets have died cannot recover
for personal injury from the pet food manufacturers. Yes, it is
true that because our pets are property, you can't recover damages
other than the value of your pet, vet bills, and actual expenses
when your animal dies or is injured through negligence. That is
the price we pay to keep our animals as our property. But the price
of guardianship is MUCH, MUCH higher, and will result in a loss
of our rights to own our pets and make decisions for them.
Unfortunately, many pet owners will think guardianship sounds good,
but what it will actually equate to is higher vet bills (because
of higher malpractice insurance costs if people can sue for damages),
the loss of your choice in euthanizing your animals, and higher
prices on every pet related product we all buy (if product liability
costs become higher due to lawsuits recovering non-specific damages).
Plus losing all your rights to make decision about your animals,
since you would no longer own them. How you house, feed, vet and
care for your animals would be lost, and be at the whims of government
agencies, like the HSUS and the ASPCA and PETA. These organizations
do good work, but they want to take away your rights to even own
With all the mandatory spay/neuter, anti-tethering, BSL, and now
the perfect platform for guardianship, our rights as pet owners
have never been at such risk. If you've not chosen to get involved,
there is no better time to jump on the bandwagon. Spread the word,
get involved, else is a few years you will find yourself echoing
the past when pets were actually a part of our families.
For news on active BSL across the USA, please visit Jan
Cooper's website, the most complete and up-to-date place for
BSL news. Jan's BSL updates are available in audio format and are
updated frequently.Please visit her site regularly
and write letters to legislators to support your position on BSL!If you need help with writing a letter, Jan has helpful
on her website that make it easy.