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Breed Specific Legislation: Dog Attacks Essay


Unfortunately, it is rather common that many humans all around the United States daily become victims of dog attacks. This happening has one distinct outcome. The humans hurt and scared by the aggressive canines logically try to fight back. As a result, breed specific legislation occurred. This legislation targets big, muscular and dangerous looking dogs, banning them or providing various restrictions for the ownership of the feared kinds of canines.

The breeds that become discriminated against by this legislation are German Shepherds, Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman Pinchers, Chow Chows, Mastiffs, Akitas and, of course, Pitt Bull Terriers. Canine profiling practice is designed to determine the dangerous dogs based on their DNA test results.

Such an approach is arbitrary and superficial because dogs’ personalities and aggression levels are not dictated by their breeds. Besides, in most cases, dog owners are responsible for the behavior of their dogs. Moreover, BSL practices never proved to be efficient and cause difficulties for canine-owners who try to comply with BSL.

BSL works through forcing the dog owners to ensure their pets, and the value established for different breeds varies a lot. As a result, the individuals that own several canines of the “banned” breeds are to pay a lot of money to keep their dogs. If individuals cannot afford the insurance, they have to either move or get rid of their dogs.

The citizens of the states employing BSL had one more option – to conduct a DNA test for their animals and prove that they did not belong to any of the banned breeds. It is worth noticing that not all large and muscular canines are assumed dangerous. Thus, an owner would be able to keep their dog if they proved that it was not a pit bull, but a boxer mix (Campbell par. 1).

Basically, BSL was not based on any scientific data but on social stereotypes and prejudices perceiving some large and strong looking dogs as potential attackers of humans. This legislation is now abolished as a highly intolerant practice, yet it used to be a common way of addressing dog attack rates by means of reducing the number of canines perceived as dangerous.

A well-known dog trainer Cesar Millan calls BSL a genocide and mentions that judging a dog by its appearance and getting rid of the breeds that are “inconvenient” is selfish and unscientific because aggression is a behavior, not inflicted by a breed (Reddy par. 4). Millan also likes to repeat that a breed is a costume a dog wears.

Thus, is not responsible for the dog’s personality or behavioral patterns. It is clear that not all aggressive dogs belong to potentially dangerous breeds. Besides, not all Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers are aggressive.

Many experts in dog psychology agree that the behavior of each specific dog is formed by its owners, the treatment it receives, and the conditions under which it grows up and lives. A “quick fix” practice that is breed specific legislation reflects the consumerist attitude of humans towards dogs, where the unwanted canines are simply eliminated and new ones are purchased.

The laws of BSL have what is called a home rule, which allows these laws to be locally changed. This means that, if a state employs BSL, the cities of this state have the right to introduce changes to the policy. In Omaha, for example, the city council ruled that the “unwanted” breeds would not be given up and put to sleep, but instead, their owners would have to get these dogs muzzled when outside (Hollow par. 14).

Besides, the well behaved “banned” breed representatives could pass a test called Breed Ambassador test that proved that the dog was not dangerous and that the owner was responsible enough to keep it. The Omaha example proves that regulating the danger coming from reckless owners of bigger dogs is possible and it does not have to be cruel.

An attack of a human by a dog can happen anywhere, in any town or city. In case if this dog happens to be recognized as a member of a “dangerous” breed such as a Pit Bull, this story immediately gets promoted by the mass and social media. The society reacts panicking and enforcing discriminative policy and lawmaking practices (Our Mission: No More Homeless Pets par. 2).

The laws that result from such policy making tend to lead to deaths of thousands of unwanted and inconvenient dogs, most of which never engaged in any attacks. This reaction can be understood. First, it is driven by fear, an emotion that is hard to overcome.

Second, the majority of the supporters of such laws are parents of small children who are genuinely afraid for the lives of their offspring. This is why the argument in favor of BSL has the right to exist, but monitoring particular dangerous dogs is what makes sense, as opposed to the profiling of the whole breed.

Dog attacks, making BSL inefficient, still happen for three main reasons. The first reason is that the reckless dog owners that let their pets run loose, without muzzles, that do not know how to handle strong and big pets often become the cause of dog attacks. In many cases owning a “banned” breed pet equals to owning a gun, and it requires a stable and responsible person, who is not going to endanger themselves and others exposing them to an aggressive predator.

This is why, to my mind, not only the dogs’ behaviors and personalities should be monitored and analyzed, but the skills of their owners too. Unfortunately, it is hard to document people who decide to get dangerous breeds as pets. This is why providing a license for keeping these breeds is impossible, but the state can establish training courses for the owners of the stronger and problematic canines.

The second reason is that BSL is an underdeveloped practice. This legislation has a positive intention of protecting humans from dog attacks, yet it provides wrong methods of reducing the danger. This is why at least twelve of the United States reject such policies because they are simply ineffective (Campbell par. 6). This policy is a so-called “quick fix” for the issues that have been important for decades (Breed Specific Legislation par. 2).

In order to achieve positive results over a very short period of time, the politicians worked out this rather general law that ended up endangering dogs without providing safety to humans. This legislation has a number of negative outcomes. First, the owners of “unwanted” breeds go into hiding to protect their pets and save their lives. Second, the owners of well behaved, but dangerous looking canines are victimized.

Third, BSL creates the illusion of security, while statistically, the danger of dog attacks remains the same. Finally, when some practice is outlawed, this attracts outlaws, so irresponsible people will be attracted to getting dangerous breeds as pets more than ever (Breed Specific Legislation par. 7).

The third reason is dog abuse that is not prevented by BSL. Statistically, eighty-seven percent of all dog attacks included dogs that had reckless owners, were abused or kept in violent and inhumane conditions.

Besides, over seventy percent of dog bite cases involved male canines that were unsterilized, seventy-eight percent of attacks were committed by dogs that were kept as guards, fighters, but not as pets, and finally, the majority of dog attacks on children happened when dogs were left with kids unsupervised (Breed Specific Legislation par. 9).

Most of these facts show that breed has very little to do with canine aggression, and also that correct behavior of humans could help avoid all of these tragedies. This is why, to my mind, breed profiling is a cruel and arbitrary practice that should be viewed as discrimination against dogs based on the way they look or on their DNA. Such practices are widely banned and outlawed in relation to humans.

In conclusion, in breed specific legislation the positive outcomes are clearly outweighed by the negative ones. Basically, it is the illusion of security for fearful citizens versus the overall ineffective policy, the increase of demand for “banned” breeds among the outlaws, the practice of hiding the pets that are banned, the practice of putting thousands of good dogs to sleep, and of course, the discrimination based on the way an animal looks or on its genetic background, which is considered highly inaccurate among humans, yet is a part of official legislation for dogs. The intention behind breed specific legislation is mainly good, but it needs to be enforced properly to have a wanted effect and to protect human society.

Works Cited

Breed Specific Legislation. ASPCA. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <https://www.aspca.org/fight- cruelty/dog-fighting/breed-specific-legislation>

Campbell, Dana M. Pit Bull Bans: The State of Breed–Specific Legislation. 2009. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/pitbull.html>

Hollow, Michelle C. Dog Profiling Has Pet Parents Growling. 12 Apr. 2012. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://petnewsandviews.com/2012/04/dog-profiling-has-pet-parents-growling/>

Our Mission: No More Homeless Pets. Best Friends Animal Society. n. d. b. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://bestfriends.org/uploadedFiles/Content/Resources/No-Kill_Resources/Pit_bull_initiatives/Preventing_Breed_Discrimination/2465.How_To_Stop_BDL.pdf>

Reddy, Joan. Cesar Millan Says That Killing the Pit Bull Breed is Genocide. 12 Apr. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://www.ecorazzi.com/2014/04/16/cesar-millan-says-that-killing-the-pit-bull-breed-is-genocide/>

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Breed Specific Legislation: Dog Attacks." March 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/breed-specific-legislation-dog-attacks/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Breed Specific Legislation: Dog Attacks'. 22 March.

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