Breed Discrimination and Breed Specific Legislation Flaws
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi
It’s unfortunate when a society or community loses its way and starts to blame a breed for the problems humans created. This is all too common and seen here in Los Angeles dog training location and elsewhere across the country where “Pit Bulls” are banned because of ignorant, irresponsible parents and political agendas. In some country, state, city, town or community, somewhere, at one point in time, dozens of breeds have been banned. When will humans start taking responsibility and start enforcing responsible pet parent laws? Punish the crime and deed, not the breed. Or how about punishing the parent of the dog if the human was irresponsible or negligent in not educating or training their dog or taking adequate care of their pet?
Millions of dogs and cats are killed every year in shelters. Some shelters hide these numbers, don’t tell the public and sweep the facts under the rug while others are more forthright about these cold hard statistics. Nonetheless, BSL and BDL contribute tremendously to the needless killing of dogs in shelters around this “civilized” country, and until we make progress in this area, we as a country and community are diminished and cannot move forward. Having BSL & BDL laws on the books of cities is an embarrassment to all human and non-human animals on this planet. BSL/BDL showcases the ignorance and stupidity of the human race. “Pit Bulls” are not a recognized dog breed nor the dogs that have the highest statistics of aggression, when looked at from both a conspecific aggression (dog-dog) or heterospecific aggression (dog-person) perspective.
There are three main ways to achieve reform that would put an end to BSL, BDL and the needless killing of dogs and cats in shelters, through education, taxation, legislation or a combination of all three.
There are many ways to combat BSL/BDL and the needless killing of millions of animals every year:
- Legislation could be put in place that stipulates mandatory breeder registration. With rigorous tests and checkups by regulators to ensure the highest ethical and moral code of the breeders and the health, education, and socialization of the puppies and dogs in their care would be a welcome start.
- Mandatory, free or discounted spay and neutering, supported by taxpayer dollars, unless you are a registered certified breeder. Enforce stiff fines for those who are not registered breeders and fail to have their pets spayed and neutered. No more puppy mills where bitches have litter after litter and living in cages for their entire lives. Sentient beings do not deserve to be treated and exploited as puppy machines. Breeders must be up to date on scientific methods for animal husbandry, ethology, and treat their animals safe and humanely.
- Enforce animal abuse laws, establish abandonment standards and impose strict minimum parent responsibility, dog training and behavior and pet health laws for parents of dogs of all ages. The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test would be a good starting point for parents including vet checkups, teeth cleaning, grooming….etc. Chicago is now licensing dog parents. This is an interesting, innovative tactic that I’m eager to see how it works out. I think it is a very good idea.
- Institute mandatory no-kill shelters and make it easier for rescue organizations to adopt dogs and cats that some shelters deem “unadoptable” and then killed.
- Make a pet animal abuse registry. Just as different communities have registered sex offender lists, we should have registered animal offenders/abuser lists. People on this list would not be allowed to own or live in a household with an animal. Why should an irresponsible animal abuser or puppy mill owner be given the privilege of being the guardian for another animal’s life? Pet parenting is a privilege to be earned not a right or an entitlement.
- We need to adopt more cats and dogs and change people’s psyches. Run public service announcements and educate the public about basic dog parent realities, costs, education, training, learning theory, husbandry, psychology, ethology….etc. Perhaps make this part of Chicago’s mandatory license/registration for dog parents. I would be thrilled if I had to pass a test to become a licensed pet parent, and the pets would be thankful as well. I think most honest and ethical people would also be happy to be a part of that cause. Who wouldn’t? If any fees are collected they could easily be used for education, rescuing dogs, spay and neutering dogs, shelters for abandoned or elderly dogs or put back to an animal trust fund.
- Tax dollars should be allocated to support the grossly underfunded animal control shelters in communities across the United States. For example, Miami Florida has only six animal control officers for over 2 million residents! A combination of more educated volunteers, trainers, behaviorists, shelter staff, community members and legislators would all help to find forever homes and to make pets more family-friendly.
- Critique irresponsible journalists and media. There are so many “Pit Bull” myths and not enough science and fact. Debunk the propaganda, fear-driven outlets and give journalism and media its integrity back.
There are many avenues to combat the overpopulation and mistreatment of dogs. It does come down to legislators putting the laws in place, enforcing them and taxation. Societies will either have high killing rates of pets in their shelters, or everyone must contribute money to support the strays and breeds that are in their care and punish the humans that disregard life and responsibility. Breed discrimination legislation and breed-specific legislation serve only to weaken our social fabric and to highlight thoughtless, careless, unrefined, primitive, apathetic unscientific ignorance of politicians who are using innocent dogs to further their political agendas. Until we decide and stop dilly-dallying over these seemingly obvious answers, millions of dogs and cats will continue to be needlessly killed every year. Let’s not lose our moral compass.