Are Breed-Specific Laws Effective?

Several years ago I was walking up Third Avenue in New York City to see a young adult beating his puppy with a cleated shoe.  When I stopped to confront this person, he shouted the worst chain of profanity I ever heard–and then continued to beat the puppy.

While animal abuse is reprehensible on all levels and for all breeds, this puppy was one that’s specifically targeted for ban by some states–the pit bull.

Now, my cousin has a pit bull who is one of the friendliest, nicest, most loyal dogs around.  And Logan (the pit bull) seems to have only one mood:Joyful. A few weeks ago, Logan put himself in grave danger to protect his family; they were all out in the yard and this very big, very scary black bear came out of the woods–standing upright on his hind legs.  Logan, who was in the house, spotted the bear, tore out of the house, opened the door (yes, he knows how to do that!) and chased the bear back into the woods.  Moments later, he returned, unscathed.

This is Logan, a pit bull mix (we think he has Black Lab in him, but no one is really sure.)

While dogs who attack people or other animals, are real and often serious problems in communities across the country, how to best address dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs is a complex–and emotional–issue.

Some city/municipal governments have enacted breed-specific laws (BSL), a term for laws that either regulate or ban certain breeds completely in the hopes of reducing dog attacks. Some of the targeted breeds include American Pit bull Terriers; Rottweilers; Doberman Pinchers; German Shepherds; Dalmatians; Chow Chows;  English Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers.

One wonders about the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation—or, as they should truly be called–breed-discriminatory laws; for instance, St. George’s County, MD spends $250,000 annually to enforce their ban on pit bulls; yet, a 2003 survey conducted by the county indicated that the community was no safer, despite the attempt.  Incidentally, New York, Texas and Illinois prohibits breed-specific legislation.

How much should the owner be held responsible? After all, some just let their dogs off the leash to roam unsupervised, even when they know there could be a problem. Sometimes, also, the dog can be just beaten and tortured so much he becomes fearful and aggressive toward any human being–I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that was the case of the animal I saw being beaten on Third Avenue.

And let’s remember that this problem doesn’t pertain only to dogs; a deli on my block had a mouse problem so they harbored a cat. A hungry cat would be a more effective hunter, they thought, so they never fed it.  Needless to say, the cat was out of its mind and once, when I was walking my dog, it shot out of the deli to get my dog.  I lifted my dog over my head to protect it and, as a result, I was severely clawed and bitten; since the cat owner refused to release any information on the cat’s health, the CDC recommended that I start on a series of rabies vaccines. Incidentally, the deli workers just stood and watched, not offering to help, because their boss ” was an a******  and deserved to get in trouble.

What do you think?

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