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 later that this is not an effective solution.
Why Breed Bans Don’t Work
The truth is that 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 of displaying dangerous behavior 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 singling out certain breeds isn’t justified and doesn’t really provide greater 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 his property or his owner? Or did the dog “snap” for no reason? We simply can’t tell from bite statistics.
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 with unnecessary time and resources focused 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 too
- 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