Fewer and fewer states and counties across the US are keeping misguided and racist breed specific legislation in place. The bans we fueled by hysteria created by a small group spreading misinformation and then spread by publishers hopping on the click-bait bandwagon a few years ago. It is well documented that a min of 60% of the articles that referenced pit bulls as the culprit in fact had no type, description or breed listed on the police reports they created the story from… essentially the publishers/editors simply inserted PIT BULL into the headline.
But what is breed-specific legislation?
Breed specific legislation is a law that prohibits and bans the ownership of specific dog breeds and mixed breeds. Moreover, the assumption behind the BSL is that there are characteristics in certain dog breeds that make them more dangerous than other breeds.
While the law often bans ownership of specific dog breeds, it may also regulate the maintenance of the dog such as keeping a muzzle on the breed when walking the dog, taking insurance or having a license.
Breed specific legislation has its supporters many of which do not like pit bulls but may not be aware of some proven facts about pit bulls. However, many also understand the lack of correlation between the breed of dog and the attacks on people. Residents, as well as government officials, are beginning to realize that BSL is not effective and many counties and states are overturning the bans.
BSL has affected dog breeds and owners alike with many of the dogs taken from their homes only to end up euthanized.
How you raise a dog determines the behavior of the dog around people as well as other dogs. For instance, socializing the dog and discouraging violent and dominant behavior will teach the animal not act aggressively towards people. On the other hand, beating the dog and keeping the dog chained promotes aggressive behavior.
Pit bulls are most affected by breed specific legislation with many cities and states banning their ownership. But is there a difference between hating pit bulls and racism? There are many other breeds that are more aggressive than pit bulls such as jack russles and chihuahuas. The only reason such dog breeds are not banned is that they are not big enough to cause major injuries to people.
Many states across the US that previously had a ban on pit bulls continue to overturn their bans. Delaware, Washington, and Arizona are now against breed specific legislation. Below are just some of the states, counties, and cities that have amended their breed-specific legislation and overturned their ban on pit bulls.
Prince Georges County
Prince George’s county is the only county in Washington state that still has a ban on pit bulls. In October 2019, Prince Georges County Council made an amendment to the bill. Furthermore, the county has had a ban on Pit bulls for 22 years now and the new amendment is more than welcome.
This is following the National Coalition of Animal Rights Advocates labeling breed specific legislation as both inhumane and ineffective. They say that instead of focusing on the specific breed, the government needs to focus more on dangerous dogs. Secondly, they also argue that the government should penalize dog breed owners who do not provide proper care to their dogs regardless of the breed of dog.
Of the 687 pit bulls impounded in Prince George’s county 2018, 400 of these were euthanized.
Americans are not the only ones questioning breed specific legislation. In November 2019 Rick Nicholls, a member of the Ontario Premier Dog Ford’s Progressive Conservative made a move to remove the ban on pit bulls in the province.
He introduced a private member’s bill in the legislature. At an interview, Rick Nicholls said, “it is not pit bulls, it’s dogs, it’s the owners and how the dogs are treated. If you beat a dog and train a dog to be vicious, that dog will be vicious regardless of the breed itself”.
Ontario’s ban on pit bulls has not produced clear results on reducing dog attacks so it is unclear whether it has been effective in the first place. According to Nicholls, out of 1429 dog bites in 2018, only 13 came from pit bulls. This is according to data from the public health.
In 2012 Ohio overturned its breed-specific legislation and no longer referred to pit bulls as “vicious dogs”. As a result, this meant that dog owners could walk the streets without discrimination. After removing pit bulls from the definition of “nuisance”, “dangerous” and “vicious”, these terms would now be used to refer to a dog regardless of the breed.
Moreover, it also meant that pit bull owners could get standard insurance premiums and shelters could also offer pit bulls for adoption.
Liberty City in Miami recently lifted its ban on pit bulls. This is a welcome move by many residents who say they can now own any dog breed that they like without stepping outside the law under breed specific legislation.
Many people who previously owned pit bulls would not freely walk their dogs within city limits due to the ban. Consequently, some dog owners have had to deal with losing their dogs to animal control owing to the ban.
The overturning of the ban is something that Jessica McKinney has been working towards for the last two years. She also ran a Facebook group called Liberty Pit Bull Alliance.
At an interview, she said, “There’s not going to be an influx of pit bulls coming in. This wasn’t a mission to get people to own pit bulls. We don’t want people to run out and get pit bulls. This was just about people being able to choose what kind of breed fits their home.”
Pawtucket in Rhode Island also recently uplifted a law that banned residents from owning pit bull terriers as well as pit bull mixed breeds.
Following the recent overturning, several pit bull owners and their dogs paraded the streets to celebrated the event. Furthermore, many owners in Rhode Island now believe that authorities should not punish the dog but should punish the dog owners in case of an incident.
According to animal farm foundation, discrimination on dog breeds isn’t about the dogs. After all, dogs don’t know what discrimination is. It is about the people. Breed specific legislation can often be traced back to classism, racism, and ableism.
Often, dog owners will not receive due process. Breed specific legislation deems dogs as dangerous simply because of how they look. Consequently, every so often these dogs are impounded and killed without the actual dog causing any harm to anyone.