BSL has proven time again to be a costly, ineffective way to address the issues of dangerous dogs in communities. The trend nationwide is away from BSL in favor of breed neutral dangerous dog laws. As with light rail, Kansas City is woefully behind the times. Knee jerk reactions, media inspired hysteria and political grandstanding has led several cities to enact BSL. We urge dog owners of all breeds to reject this unfair, unconstitutional and wasteful use of tax payer money. —Kansas City Dog Advocates
What Every Dog Owner Should Know About BSL
Although experts agree that aggression is almost always ownership based, breed-specific laws are typically rationalized by saying that certain breeds are inherently more dangerous. This argument usually stems from news of a serious attack by a dog and perpetuated by media coverage of the incident. Often the knee-jerk reaction to a serious attack is to look to laws that regulate or ban the specific breed of dog as a way to try to ensure public safety. Public officials learn that this is not an effective solution.
Why Breed Bans Don’t Work
Singling out certain breeds only provides a false sense of security. Breed-specific laws do nothing to address the proven factors that contribute to a dog’s likelihood to display dangerous behaviors, such as:
- Owner irresponsibility
- Abuse and neglect
- Being inhumanely chained
- Not being spayed or neutered
- Dogs roaming at-large
What Do Experts Say?
The following animal and medical experts agree that targeting certain breeds isn’t justified and doesn’t provide greater public safety:
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- Missouri Veterinary Medical Association
- Kansas City Veterinary Medical Association
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American College of Emergency Physicians
- Professional Liability Insurance Trust
- American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
- American Medical Association
- National Animal Control Association
- U.S. Center for Disease Control
- Humane Society of the United States
- American Kennel Club
- National Canine Research Foundation
Understanding the Statistics
If certain dog breeds aren’t inherently more dangerous, why do some breeds seems to be responsible for more bites than others? Bite statistics can often be misleading. More popular breeds are going to reflect a greater number of bites because there are more of these dogs in the general population. Statistics can also be misleading because dogs are often misidentified.
Bite statistics usually don’t indicate the severity of the bite. Was medical attention required? Was the person hospitalized? Statistics also don’t tell us if the bite was a reasonable response or unprovoked. Was the dog neglected or abused? Was the dog protecting its property or its owner? Did the dog “snap” for no reason? All these factors aren’t taken into consideration when bite statistics are generated.
Drawbacks of Breed Bans
Not only are breed bans ineffective, but there are other noteworthy disadvantages to consider:
- Breed-specific laws are costly to enforce and provide no real benefit
- Breed-specific laws place unreasonable restrictions on responsible pet owners
- Breed-specific laws overwhelm the animal control system by requiring them to spend unnecessary time and taxpayer dollars focusing on certain dogs, most of which are not dangerous
- Breed-specific laws don’t stop irresponsible owners from choosing another breed of dog and raising them to be dangerous
- Breed-specific laws infringe on constitutional rights and leave cities vulnerable to lawsuits
- Breed-specific laws unfairly target any dog having similar characteristics of the banned breed
So What Does Work?
As long as humans and dogs interact, dog bites will always be a risk. The key is to take reasonable steps to reduce the frequency of bites. Practical steps that have proven effective include:
- Dog bite prevention educational programs for adults and children
- Restrict the chaining of dogs
- Spaying/neutering incentive programs
- Strict fines and felony convictions for owner irresponsibility
Why Should You Care?
Once a particular breed has been restricted or banned by a city, it becomes easier for other breeds to be targeted.
In cities across the country, many different breeds have been regulated or considered for regulations, including some that might surprise you…
- Blue Heelers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- All terriers
- All dogs over 50 pounds
- …and many more!
Your Dog Could Be Next!
Want to know more? Check out the following resources to learn more about why breed-specific laws don’t work:
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression
- Dogs Bite: But Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous by Janis Bradley
- Dog Bites: Problems and Solutions Policy Paper by Janis Bradley
What Can You Do?
Contact your local public officials and tell them you oppose breed-specific laws. Encourage them to focus instead on ordinances that target:
- Behavior, not breed
- Irresponsible owners
- Inhumane chaining of dogs
- The need for voluntary spay/neuter incentive programs
Contact your public officials ASAP! The future of all dogs and the rights of dog owners depends on it!