Northwest Missourian Opinion

Maggie is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. She wiggles her hips like a diva when she walks and wants constant attention. Yet Maggie, and many other dogs like her, are discriminated against because of one thing: She is a pit bull.

Breed-Specific Legislation, or BSL, is a set of laws adopted to act as a sort of cure-all for dog attacks. BSL affects many dog breeds: Rottweilers, bulldogs and German shepherds. More often than not though, pit bulls find themselves the most targeted with their ownership either heavily regulated or banned altogether.

This is due to old myths that still circulate, such as the rumor that pits have specialized locking jaws, or that they are naturally more aggressive due to their history. But these myths are just that—myths.

Unfortunately, as people know all too well, humans have a bad habit of hanging on to stereotypes. Thus, pit bulls find themselves victimized by BSL.

The main goal of BSL is to lessen or stop altogether, the frequency of dog bite cases. Instead of enacting laws to handle dogs on a case-by-case basis BSL tries to find a blanket solution by regulating and banning entire breeds.

This type of “solution” does not work. According to a position statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, “any dog may bite, regardless of the dog’s size or sex, or reported breed or a mix of breeds.”

Bites from larger dogs, like pits, are seen as more of a threat because they can do more damage thanks to their size. But smaller dogs have just as much tendency to bite and can even do a large amount of damage, especially if people consider that children are most likely to be bitten.

It is becoming common knowledge BSL policies, even if enacted for the good of the people, do not work.

The Netherlands repealed their pit bull ban in 2009 after it found it had little to no effect on the number of dog bites reported. It only took six years after Italy enacted its breed-specific policies for the Italian government to come to the same conclusion and repeal it.

Like humans, each dog is different, no matter its breed. Fido may lunge if someone so much as looks at him the wrong way, while his brother, Spot, would rather spend all day curled up in someone’s lap. Each dog must be treated on a case-by-case basis.

The best way to avoid dog attacks is to be a responsible dog owner. Train them well and work with them throughout their life, not just when they’re puppies. Always make sure to socialize them so they’re used to other dogs and animals.

Don’t forget to train family members too. Teach children from a young age that Lassie has boundaries just like they do, to treat her with respect and supervise puppy/baby playtime.

If we quit demonizing these wonderful dogs and take on the responsibility to fix the problem in an effective way, maybe someday soon BSL will be a thing of the past.

(6) comments

Chris Edwards

Regulation is needed to solve this pit crisis that has been increasing for over 30 years. I don’t understand why the pit community hasn’t taken responsibility for the overbreeding and unpredictable aggression being seen in loved family pits. There is a formula that GSD, Dalmatians, Doberman’s and more used resolve similar issues.

Jessica Loh

Not believing the "old myth" got my beloved pet killed in a very gruesome manner by two pit bulls. Please wake up to the truth of what this vicious breed is capable of:

Susan Blais

BSL helps make owners of Dangerous Breed Dogs more responsible and helps to prevent more innocent victims from attack’s, vicious mauling/killing. Regarding Pit Bulls it’s not totally against the dog but the lethal damages they’re capable of inflicting when they “bite”. Instead of bite/release like all non fighting breed dogs do Pits/Pit Mixes grab/grip/hold and firmly thrash victim side to side ripping all flesh,muscles,tissue etc. causing most damage in shortest time. Traits that enable them to climb 6’ walls with ease and superior escape artists who stop at nothing when highest prey drive is triggered which is unprovoked and without warning. BSL helps keep Communities Safe as possible.

Dana Strunk

BSL does work.

In Ontario, prohibiting the breeding and importing of pit bull since 2005 reduced serious level 4-6 dog bites requiring surgery by 92% in 443 Cities for 13 million people.

Springfield, MO - According to city code, pit bulls must be spayed or neutered, micro-chipped, securely confined, and owners must also follow other strict protocol.

"This didn't come out of a vacuum. There's a reason these restrictions were put in place," said Clay Goddard, assistant director for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

Goddard said before the ordinance went into effect, pit bulls made up an alarming number of the reported dog bites citywide. Numbers show in 2005 there were 102 reported dog bites. Pit bull bites accounted for 34 of those.

Since the ordinance went into effect in 2006, Goddard said the number of attacks involving pit bulls has sharply declined, with 78 total attacks in 2015 (the most recent year for which statistics were complete) with 11 of those being pit bulls.

"We think that's evidence of the ordinance working," Goddard said.

Harve Morgan

Why are you talking bites? BSL is not for bites, BSL is to reduce the horrible attacks that leave people either dead or with life altering injuries. BSL is to reduce what taxpayers pay when the pit owner has no insurance for the poor victim, which is usually the case. BSL can keep pits out of the hands of those who abuse them. Those who fight against BSL hate the breed in reality, they love the carnage inflicted by the breed. The bloodsport that was designed around this breed is illegal in the US, and the instrument used in that bloodsport, the pit bull, needs to be allowed to go extinct via breeding regulations.

Sabrina Brown

BSL is NOT about stopping dog “bites” silly.
BSL is about PREVENTING severe and fatal attacks by breeds that view people and other animals as prey. Nothing will stop dogbites as long as dogs are on his planet. It’s NOT the “bites” that we Breed Specific Legislation advocates are concerned with, its the pain, suffering and death. Understand?

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