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“Breed-specific” legislation (BSL) is, essentially, canine bigotry. More specifically, the term refers to regional laws that ban or regulate certain breeds of dog in the hopes of reducing attacks on humans.

Not only is BSL unjust, it just doesn’t work. Anywhere. And the stats prove it.

Because of this, many cities (and states and countries) have repealed their antiquated BSL laws over the years, but far too many cities and municipalities (including Denver and Miami) have them intact.

Legalized discrimination, much? These laws are based on nothing more than misconceptions, misinformation and fear.

So, here are ten facts about BSL, and what you can do to take action:

1. BSL Kills.

Because of these BSL (and widespread misinformation), pit bulls have almost no chance of survival in public shelters. In many regions, they’re killed immediately upon shelter admission, with no opportunity to find a new home. Their euthanasia rate, overall, hovers around a staggering 93 percent.

2. Dog Bite Fatalities are Extremely Rare. 

Between 1999 and 2006, an average of 27 Americans died each year as a result of a dog attack, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association report. Meanwhile, estimates suggest an average of 40 to 50 Americans die each year from lightning strikes.

3. There’s No Evidence That Banning Breeds has Any Impact on Dog Bites.


4. Most Bans Affect Pit Bulls, but Other Breeds Can Be Included as Well.

Meanwhile, pit bulls score extremely high on temperament tests. According to the American Temperament Testing Society, Inc., the American Pit Bull Terrier achieved a passing rate of 86.8 percent (better than collies, golden retrievers, and beagles), which means they rank fourth highest of the 122 breeds tested.

Additionally, a “pit bull” isn’t even actually a breed. Instead, it’s a term used to describe a stockier type of terrier that includes the American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and mixes of the above.

Other breeds that can also be affected by BSL include American Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers … even Chihuahuas and Shar Peis (or dogs that just look like any of the above).

5. BSL Tears Families Apart.

If  a breed ban is in effect in a community, authorities have the right to take a dog from its family. Often, these dogs end up euthanized, despite the fact that they have a loving home.

6. Researchers Have Identified the Factors That Lead to Dog Bites. Breed Isn’t One of Them.

According to stats on dog bite-related fatalities published by the National Canine Research Council, factors include:

  • no able-bodied person being present to intervene (87.1 percent)
  • the victim having no familiar relationship with the dog(s) (85.2 percent)
  • the owner’s prior mismanagement of the dog(s) (37.5 percent)
  • and the owner’s abuse or neglect of dog(s) (21.1 percent).

According to their research, these and other factors were present in “80.5 percent of cases.”

7. Identifying a “Pit Bull” is Completely Subjective.

Because the term refers to a whole host of breeds and mixes, shelter workers and city officials often wrongfully label dogs as pit bulls, which can mean a death sentence for the animal involved. According to the the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2013 paper, in cases of bite fatalities, “the breed(s) of the dog or dogs could not be reliably identified in more than 80 percent of cases.”

8. All the Legit Organizations are Against BSL.

The Humane Society of the U.S., the ASPCA, the United Kennel Club, the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Kennel Club, Best Friends Animal Society, the CDC, even the Obama administration (and so many more) is against BSL.

9. The Public is Against BSL.

According to a poll commissioned by Best Friends Animal Society, 84 percent of those surveyed said “local, state or federal governments should not infringe on a person’s right to own whatever breed of dog they choose.”

10. BSL Wastes Money. 

Enforcement costs a fortune, from staffing to litigation to the price of unnecessarily killing dogs in shelters. Best Friends Animal Society even offers a calculator that estimates fiscal impact. In Miami, a city that still enforces BSL, it rings in at $603,445 annually … with no reduction in dog bites to show for it.

The good news is, many organizations are working to strike down these antiquated laws, and you can help.

Here’s how

  • Join a group that’s working for anti-BSL and pit bull advocacy. A few include Hershey Anti-BSL Group, Stop BSLLove-A-Bull and the Miami Coalition Against Breed-Specific Legislation.
  • If you live in an area with BSL, contact your elected representatives and express your opinion on the issue.
  • Spay/neuter your pets, and encourage others to do the same. According to the ASPCA, more than 70 percent of dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • Educate everyone you talk to. Many animal-lovers are still unaware of the unjust nature of these laws. Spread the word and the facts.
  • Adopt (or foster) a pibble! Their shelter death rates are dismal, and every home helps.

Any other suggestions, Green Monsters? Share them in the comments!

Image source: maplegirlie/Flickr