In a time where LGBT rights, bullying and other human issues are front and center, making headlines is an animal issue that the world is finally starting to take notice of in hopes of ending right away: Breed Specific Legislation.
For those of you who are unaware, the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) law was designed to place restrictions on ownership of certain breeds of dogs such as Pit Bulls. A breed ban usually requires that all dogs of a certain appearance (targeted breed) be removed from the county, city, state, or province and in some areas the breed in question may not leave the owners premises, and be locked inside at all times or a massive fine could occur, including even jail time. In extreme situations, breed specific legislation can even lead to dogs, even the friendly well-trained ones, being “put down” even though they haven’t done anything wrong/harmful.
Back in 2013, President Barack Obama began a campaign to end this legislation in states and areas around North America, proudly announcing, “[The White House] does not support breed-specific legislation. Research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.”
Backing up Obama’s statement, studies conducted across the United States prove that breed specific legislation is very ineffective. As an alternative, proper training between owners and their dogs not only benefits all parties, but creates a friendly environment and saves lives. Animal rights organizations have noted that they do support higher restrictions and penalties on owners who do not properly train their pets, but that BSL needs to be outlawed as soon as possible.
Charley Koontz, an actor on NBC’s primetime series Community, recently commented, “I absolutely believe that there should be restrictions and regulations on the way we train and treat our pets, but I think those regulations should be on the owners rather than punishing specific dog breeds. If Pit Bull owners or owners of any breed paid stricter attention to training and creating a healthy environment for their dogs I believe we would have many fewer instances of animal violence.”
Supporting Koontz’s claim as well is designer DaMarcus Morton (of the fashion brand Luv’d By Meny), who is also a Pit Bull owner in West Hollywood, California, “Breed specific legislation is discriminatory and keeps people in fear of the once considered family dog. Breed specific legislation impacts the breed but more so impacts the dog owners. BSL is simply BS! Because I have a Pit Bull, I am limited to where I can live or travel which is completely wrong and unjust. As with any dog, if raised in a caring environment with proper socialization, they are the most loving and loyal companions.”
And while Pit Bulls have gotten a “bad name” for themselves due to a few instances, dog trainers have commented that if those specific dogs were properly guided and the owners used positive reinforcement techniques rather than yelling, hitting or other forms of punishment, then people would start truly seeing how loving the breed is instead of being fearful.
Tino Dietrich, CEO of the popular mobile technology application EXLEY said, “To discriminate Pit Bulls – or any breed – just because of single incidents, does not conform with what we believe in. This does not mean that irresponsible behavior of an owner should be tolerated. The focus should be on the owner not the breed.”
And Walter Jones, known for his anti-bullying ways as the Black Ranger on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers spoke from experience stating, “I have been in the presence of many Pit Bulls who were loving and loyal animals. The power they possess to be dangerous is intimidating, but it depends on the owners. They possess the power of sweetness and affection, that is also up to the owner to condition.”
Legendary country singer Willie Nelson further commented, “Dogs, like people, are individuals and should each be judged on his/her own merits.”
And finally, even though he is only 15-years-old, Josh Levi of the X Factor USA is standing tall with his voice on this issue proclaiming, “No matter kind, color, type, or category, bullying is never acceptable for anything (even animals). Animals are like children, with their own hearts and perceptions of life, still deserving a level of respect. Needless to say, the pet owners are responsible for influencing/creating vicious pets. I don’t feel that holding an entire breed responsible is the answer.”
So why do we judge a dog based on his/her breed? Is this not like judging a person based on his/her skin color? The time to end BSL is now, and the only way it will stop is by public awareness that these laws do exists in certain areas, and that the proper government officials are informed and pleaded with to sign off on ending this legislation.