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Fighting Back: What to Ask for Instead of BSL (Feat. in PupJournal)

Special thanks to Arin Greenwood and PupJournal for featuring this piece by Deirdre S. Franklin from ‘The Pit Bull Life’ book.

Outlawing a dog based on how it looks will not keep us safe from a dog bite. What will keep us safe, on the other hand, is introducing breed-neutral laws for all dog owners to comply with.


We recommend:

  • Ask lawmakers for breed-neutral dangerous-dog legislation. This allows animal control to enforce true dangerous-dog issues without having to drive around speculating about whether a dog is a pit bull.
  • Ask lawmakers to support education efforts to ensure that parents are aware of the whereabouts of their children and the way that children interact with dogs.
  • Ban chaining/tethering or at the very least, require dog owners to be present when their dog is tethered.
  • Do not allow at-large dogs to roam. Enforce leash laws or enact leash laws if they do not already exist.
  • Penalize people that are noncompliant and elevate fines for repeat offenders. Fines can help increase funding for educational materials.
  • Encourage breed-neutral spay-and-neuter programs, and when possible, offer those programs at low or no cost to low-income dog owners.
  • Encourage the licensing of breeding, though this can be challenging, since backyard breeders are not necessarily going to comply without the risk of fines and enforcement.
  • Require licensing and necessary vaccinations, such as rabies shots. This is obvious, but many dog owners are not in compliance with licensing. This might be due to a fear of breed-specific bans, or ignorance.
  • Teach dog bite prevention to dog owners and non-dog owners.
  • Make whistleblowing options available to people aware of dogfighting activity in their community; for example, a toll-free phone number.
  • Note that breed bans are a violation of property rights.
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Op-Ed: BSL Isn’t Just Bad For Pit Bulls & Pit Bull Owners – It’s Bad For Everyone

By Levity Tomkinson for BarkPost

Today, someone came into your home to remove your dog. Nothing you said or did allowed you to keep him or her. Depending on where you live, you don’t know the fate of your dog after this removal. You may have been given only a few days to relocate outside of your city or find a new family for your dog. Your dog may be moved outside of the city — again, you have no say. And in the worst case, your dog was killed. Why? Because of what he or she looked like. 

Rodney Taylor, Associate Director of Prince George’s Animal Management in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, describes the emotional and physical effects of BSL, which is “a law or ordinance that prohibits or restricts the keeping of dogs of specific breeds.”

The hardest thing we have to do…is go to someone’s house, knock on their door, see their American Pit Bull Terrier lying in the living room watching television with the kids and the family… and tak[e] that dog away. A dog that has done nothing wrong, caused no problems, but just because of his breed he has to be moved.

One of the things not touched on in Mr. Taylor’s quote is the fact that even though BSL is meant to target a specific breed, in actuality, BSL is by far and large based solely on a dog’s appearance. A dog who looks like (but actually isn’t) a Pit Bull is in danger of being subject to BSL.

This is a reckless and inaccurate way to legislate as it has been proven that it can be very difficult to identify a dog’s breed based on looks.

The Beginnings Of BSL

As BSL began taking hold in the United States in the late 1970s and 1980s and the media sensationalized dogfighting and dog attacks, it led to an increase in those who wanted Pit Bull–type dogs for the wrong reasons. Mitzi Bolaños, the Executive Director of StubbyDogand who recently gave a TEDx talk on BSL, stated:

[This] just enticed more criminals to want them — to keep them chained up as yard dogs, with no positive human interaction, for ‘protection,’ for gambling (which meant fighting), and the cycle just continued.

It’s this type of environment that can lead to dog bites — not the breed of dog. Deirdre Franklin, founder of Pinups For Pitbulls, shared with BarkPost how responsible dog ownership can help reduce dog bites and attacks.

“The focus needs to shift to the basic reasons that dog bites exist: tethered/chained dogs, dogs at–large, unattended children, and focus on spaying and neutering. These are easy areas to target. These are not expensive areas to target. We have overcomplicated a very simple issue.”