Breed Specific Legislation: Ineffective, Costly, and Unjust

Most people can agree that it is unjust to make generalizations about someone, punish them, or discard them based on their appearance alone. You can’t just kick someone out of your community because they look a certain way. Yet, this is exactly what breed-specific legislation does to certain breeds of dogs.

Breed-specific legislation or BSL labels certain breeds as dangerous and forbids them from living in certain communities. Even if a particular dog has never been known to show any signs of aggression, under BSL the dog will not be able to live in the community if they are labeled as a member of a banned breed. The dog and it’s family will either be forced to move or the dog will likely be killed.

The goal of BSL is to limit the amount of dog attacks and bites in a community, however as a whole the legislation has been ineffective.

One example of the ineffectiveness of BSL, was a 2003 study conducted by a task force in Prince George County, MD. According to the study, the county spent $250,000 annually to enforce a strict pit bull ban, however it was concluded that the ban failed to improve public safety. Yet, for some reason Prince George County still forbids pit bulls from living in their community to this day.

Prince George County isn’t the only place where breed-specific legislation has been ruled ineffective. According to a newsletter from the American Bar Association, extensive research done in Spain and Great Britain also concluded that BSL has had “no effect at all on stopping dog attacks.”

These numerous studies have caused many organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Bar Association, and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention to speak out against this legislation.

Even President Obama has spoken out about the ineffectiveness of BSL and has taken an official stance against it. In an official statement from the White House, the president stated the following:

“We don’t support breed-specific legislation — research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.”

So why does breed-specific legislation still exist? Other than promoting a false sense of security within communities, the legislation hasn’t accomplished much.

BSL punishes responsible owners and their beloved dogs. Communities that enforce this law create an ultimatum which forces many responsible owners to either give up their dogs or move to a different community. Instead, the law should focus on eliminating bad owners rather than condemning an entire breed for the actions of a small percentage of dogs.

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