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.”