Why BSLs are BS...
Updated: Aug 11, 2019
The mantra goes that BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) is an ethical failure. BSL is a public safetly failure. And while we're speaking in cliches, there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. All of this, sadly, is very, very true.
Now, the nuts and bolts of what exactly BSLs are:
BSL is a law that bans OR restricts certain types of dogs based solely on their appearance, mainly (they claim) because they are perceived as inherently "dangerous." It's a common misconception that BSL refers only to ban breeds - it also seeks to restrict them. A breed ban usually dictates that all dogs with certain physical traits and characteristics (mainly Bully Breeds in most locales: stocky body, bigger head, powerful jaws. They leave out their goofy personalities, big smile, gentle nature -some bullies were referred to as "Nanny Dogs" for their gentleness with children - and intense loyalty.)
More troublesome, in some municipalities, the targeted breeds are killed by animal control; in others however, they can be saved if relocation is an option. The only safeguard around BSLs is some localities permit pets to be “grandfathered” in, but that’s only putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.
Some BSLs might not “ban” the pup, but depending on how the law is written – it can require people to:
Muzzle the dog in public
Spay or neuter the dog (this is the only one, in this writer’s opinion, that is actually good and responsible)
Contain the dog in a kennel with certain requisites (which include concrete floors and a lid!)
Keep the dog on a leash a certain length
Purchase liability insurance
Place “vicious dog” signs on the outside of the residence where the dog lives
Make the dog wear a “vicious dog” tag or other identifying marker
Now, the last two are flagrant “breedism” if ever such a thing existed.
Does this look vicious to you?
And the nail in the “breedist” coffin, so to speak, is it only applies to dogs of a certain appearance. So, by the letter of the law, if you look a certain way, not act or behave a certain way, you are required to abide different rules than your other four legged counterparts.
That, my pittie people, is in itself a pity.
To add insult to injury, BSLs only loosely define a class of dogs – IE a “pit bull” or “shepherd.” Almost all BSLs include a “substantially similar clause.” Meaning – if it looks like a banned breed, even if it isn’t – the law applies. There are a couple ways around this – like having your dog DNA tested with a home kit like DNA My Dog. But should a responsible pet owner need to spend nearly $100 to prove their pup isn’t on the banned list? No, they shouldn’t.
Some research to back up these claims, for those of you that like numbers and data, even if legislators that are enacting these laws do not.
BSL’s do not account for bad dog ownership, and penalize the good owners. Do you blame a car for causing an accident? No you blame the owner/driver.
BSL’s hurt the responsible owners, break up families, and kill innocent dogs. 22% of all shelters euthanize bullies regardless of their disposition.
And because of the negative stigma surrounding the breed – only ONE in SIX HUNDRED pit bulls find a home.
Now before you go saying something like “Oh well maybe those other 599 are aggressive or mean or not suitable companions” or some such nonsense (I doubt the readers of this would, but I’m playing devil’s advocate) a study by Arizona State University that was covered in the Washington Post proved unequivocally that there is a negative stigma surrounding the breed, and that dogs that are labeled as “pit bull” types spend 3 times longer in the shelter, and pit bull-type dogs at shelters are more likely to be adopted if given no breed label.
Now is all of this related to BSLs directly? No, surely not. But BSLs aren’t helping.
What can you, as a Bully Champion do to help?
Dispel the mythos wherever you can.
Share articles like this with the Bully Bullies.
Educate and inform.
Take part in bully rescues, and adopt or foster! One way to get people in your community that are adverse to Bully Breeds is to foster one, so they can see how sweet and goofy they really are.
When legislation like this is up for a vote, exercise your democratic muscle and vote it down. If there is a proposition like a BSL to ban pups for no reason or fault of their own - fight it.