What is Breed Specific Legislation?
Breed Specific Legislation, also know as BSL is a law or set of laws addressing ownership of certain breeds or types of dogs. In a nutshell, it is the profiling of canines based upon certain physical characteristics in the name of public safety. Laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and often address one or more of the following: mandatory spay/neuter, additional licensing requirements, owners must obtain higher limits of homeowners insurance coverage, muzzling and restraint requirements when out in public, and in some places, certain breeds or types of dogs are outlawed all together. Currently, pit bull type dogs are the most outlawed dogs in the world.
While Breed Specific laws remain in place in many places around the world, these laws have NEVER succeeded in creating safer communities. Instead, tax dollars are wasted and families are discriminated against and torn apart.
As of July 2013, 15 states, including Nevada have enacted laws, protecting dogs and their owners from BSL.
Why is BSL enacted?
Cities, towns, states and even entire countries have enacted BSL measures. Often this is in response to an incident, involving a targeted breed. Instead of focusing on the human responsible for the dog, better educating the general public about proper care and guardianship of dogs, or even looking into all of the factors that may have played a part in the incident, laws are enacted, focusing only on the breed or type of dog.
Is BSL effective?
No. Laws targeting a particular group of dogs may appease the general population, giving them a false sense of security, but they do nothing to address the root of the problem. For example, reports from Denver, CO, Miami-Dade, FL, Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Omaha, NE all report that regulations set to reduce bite rates within their communities have all failed.
What measures are effective in creating a safe community for both humans and canines?
Within the U.S., many places have enacted various degrees of BSL. Thankfully, many are starting to realize that not only is BSL discriminatory against both dog and guardian, most importantly, it is ineffective and extremely costly to their taxpayers. In Baltimore, Maryland, BSL was costing taxpayers $750,000 a year, urging them to adopt more effective and less costly measures to protect the public and their dogs. Calgary, Alberta, Canada has provided other major cities with an effective model in addressing the “dangerous dog” issue. Calgary has found that comprehensive education programs, mandatory spay and neuter, licensing requirements and strict fines for dog related incidents have been more effective and less costly than banning or restricting any one type or breed of dog.
Are Pit Bulls the only dogs subjected to BSL?
No. While the most commonly targeted breeds include those from the pit bull group, Breed Specific Legislation has targeted 36 different breeds of dogs, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes and countless other mixed- breed dogs.
Why should I care about BSL?
Aside from BSL being blatant discrimination based upon appearance alone, without consideration for individual behavior, the simple truth is that these laws can be enacted and enforced against any kind of dog at any time. As dog owners and Americans who feel that discrimination in any form is bad public policy, we must unite and let our government officials know that we will not stand for what at the end of the day is nothing more than racial profiling. Think your dog won’t be targeted next? Are you willing to wait and see before you voice your opinion?
What can I do about BSL?
Educate yourself! To effectively advocate for safe communities without BSL, you have to know all of the factors that come into play. Please visit our friends at Animal Farm Foundation for a wealth of information on all the pertinent issues.
Contact your local lawmakers. Ask them to sponsor a bill protecting dogs and their families from Breed Specific Legislation. Need examples on wording? Look to states like NY, RI, NV and MA that have BSL prohibitive laws already on the books.
Organize and Mobilize! Your voice is valuable and lawmakers need to hear from you. Calls and emails to officials who are considering implementing BSL are critical in the battle against BSL. They are equally important in passing protective measures as well. Whether the issue is within your locale or not, allowing a city or town to pass BSL sets a precedent, could hinder you from traveling there with your family or could even exclude you from moving to that place in the future.