My German Shepherd Dog ‘Blaze’ and the campaign to end BSL.
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain breeds in hope of reducing dog attacks. Some city/municipal governments have enacted breed specific laws. However, the problem of dangerous dogs will not be remedied by the ‘quick fix’ of breed specific laws- or, as they should truly be called, breed discriminatory laws.
It is worth noting that in some areas regulated breeds include not just American Pit Bulls, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, English Bull Terriers and Rottweilers but also a variety of other dogs including, American Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, or any mix of these breeds- and dogs who simply resemble these breeds.
It is a common misconception that BSL is only subject to affect in the United States, this is not so. In the UK the dangerous dogs are classified by ‘type’, not by breed label. This means that whether a dog is prohibited under the Act will depend on a judgement about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited ‘type’. This assessment of the physical characteristics is made by a court. In the UK a dog can be classed as a dangerous breed regardless of it’s breed profile.
In July 2012 Belfast City Council won a high profile court case that condemned a family pet to death, the dog, named Lennox was an American Bull Dog x Labrador, seized from the family home by a dog warden because it ‘looked’ like a Pitbull ‘type’ the fact that the dog was not a Pitbull at all, was innocent of any wrong doing and had not shown signs of aggression were irrelevant in the defence. It seems evident that Lennox was the victim of a misplaced law discriminating against dogs based upon their physical characteristics, along with politics and stubborn egos. This event highlights the extreme importance for all of us who own and love dogs to get this legislation changed.
Right now, the list of breeds banned in the UK is quite short but, even so, any dog can fall foul of it just because they have similar traits/characteristics of the banned Pitbull. It is all too easy for other dog breeds to be added to this list , Staffordshire Bull Terriers could well find themselves the next demonised breed along with the German Shepherd, the Rottweiler and the Doberman. It is a frightening thought that, if something isn’t done to change our current dog laws, future generations may well never know the joys of owning many of these wonderful breeds at all.
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