Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) - It can happen to anyone!

Many dog owners are oblivious to the fact that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) even exists. Then of course there are the huge masses of dog owners who rely on a notion that it only targets "pit bulls", and not the German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Akita, etc. However, here is the reality of the painful concept known as "BSL"...it affects us all and targets dozens of breeds in various countries. Everything from 220 pound mastiffs to 40 pound mutts of unknown origins if the law deems it necessary.
BSL is the sort of thing that mainly affects happy, normal, loving families and their pets, because the types of people who should be targeted by animal regulations will continue to illegally harbor the dogs in question if they so choose. Essentially all that breed specific legislation has going for it, is the fact that it kills mostly innocent dogs and destroys the families which love them. It's easy to turn a blind eye and say it "isn't your job to worry", but one day it will knock on YOUR door, either from an insurance agent denying your coverage, or an official coming to take your dog.
If you live in the United States, there are no country-wide bans put into law at this moment (as a matter of fact, for the first time in years, trends are showing a decrease in BSL, finally), however the Marine Corps has banned or restricted "large dog breeds with a predisposition toward aggressive or dangerous behavior" in base housing and privatized housing, as have many Army, Navy, and Air Force installations. Of course we do have various municipalities putting bans/restrictions into effect, as well as the county of Colorado - Denver with their city wide ban (which has been revamped to not be as devastating as it once was).

The varying restrictions, regulations, ideas and definitions within the laws all over the world are all over the map, so in short this is a brief definition: Breed specific legislation, or BSL, is simply defined as it sounds regulating your right to own or not own a dog based only on the breed of dog, not your responsibility as a pet owner. These practices let people know that no matter how hard they have worked on training, socializing, loving, and securing their dog, none of it has ever really meant anything.
The act of BSL is simply a band-aid for a much larger social or criminal issue and is only a temporary fix which many states eventually realize doesn't solve or really help any of the real problems at hand in many of these dog attack cases which prompt the bans or restrictions in the first place. By volunteering certain breeds as "attack" dogs or "aggressive" by law, we are doing nothing more than giving criminals a heads up on which breeds to own and how to make them that way.
In my personal house, and within many of the homes of Modified K9, we live our lives fearing the day we hear that news or get that memo...the one saying that your dogs could be next. Despite being a pit bull rescue, many of us own various breeds and multiple dogs, in my own home i have 3 separate breeds, all of whom would be banned or restricted if BSL ever knocked on my door. I know that no matter what, none of us would go down without a fight, and i think it's safe to assume the same of most of you reading this. Now is the time when we have a say and our voices as pet owner's should and could be heard louder than ever. In the age of technology, we can get whatever message we must across, and I think we've been changing minds for some time now.

I can name a dozen or more instances in which my pit bulls or Akita have changed people's minds regarding their breeds. I smile every time I recall the events Modified K9 has attended at which our dogs have not only done the same, but also turned those skeptics into pit bull dog adopters. With every well trained, loving, and stellar breed example that exists within the breeds under fire by these laws, we as dog owners get one step closer to a world free of BSL, ignorance, and fear.
The amount of progress that still needs to come is great, however if we think of the ground those of us fighting breed stereotypes have already covered it doesn't seem as daunting. If we come together to spread factual information to the ignorant, shine positive lights on our dogs in every way we can,, and just be the most responsible dog owners we can be, this won't even feel like a fight against BSL....it will instead feel like a victory one day. That is the sort of world that I know will exist one day, and on that day I will finally feel like all of my efforts have been heard and that I had a small part in it by sharing my life with some of the most amazing breed ambassadors, and the most loyal dogs ever.
In closing I wanted to do something corny, but something I think should be done in order for those of you not understanding why we fight so hard: 

Imagine in the middle of the night, you are jolted out of sleep by a thunderous bang on your door and loud voices. You spring from your bed to position yourself between your loved ones and the threat. Your actions are misread and you're suddenly pricked with an intense jolting feeling. Next thing you know you're collapsing to the ground and unable to move as you watch this threat upset your loved ones. Your family is screaming and crying all around you and you can just lay helpless. You're abruptly picked up and thrown into a cell as your little boy tries grabbing at you one last time, still hysterical. You are a pit bull being labeled for "aggressive" behaviors when BSL came knocking on your family's door late one night. Now you sit on death row and wait everyday at your gate for your family, but they're never allowed to come. All you can do is wait and hope for an appeal.

Breed Specific Legislation tears families apart and destroys the lives of everyone around it. 
It is not a solution, it is only part of the problem.


  1. I find it amazing that the media will report every bite of larger breeds, but never see widespread report of the Pomeranian that killed an infant in Mass. I live in an apt, only allowed small dogs. I rescued two Chihuahuas - one with a severe aggression problem. Almost a year and she's better, but not where she should be. Yet the five years I rescued Rotties I didn't have this problem - a few on death row for aggression issues.

    We can recite over and over - it's the owner! Not the dog! But until more humans take responsibility for their actions, we will continue to fight the BSL.

  2. How can this be happening in "civilised" countries anno 2013 ??
    This is beyond imagination, a cruel genocide, horrible mass murder, from laws created by sadistic nazi psychopaths. Those criminals need to be stopped and locked up because they are a danger for all living beings !