Monday, October 5, 2009

Pit Bull Education 4

Welcome back! Today we will discuss two topics of which I am very passionate about. Pit Bulls in the Media and BSL. Pit bulls are often the topic of sensationalist 'news' coverage. You hear the word 'attack' thrown around, only to discover after viewing the segment that it wasn't an attack at all. The sad reality is that fear sells, plain and simple. Think about the Swine flu reports of recent, or about 8 years ago when you couldn't find duct tape or plastic wrap at the store because we were all buying it for our windows to protect us against an impending terror attack. Again, fear sells, it gets you to turn on the TV, pick up that magazine or read that article. Local news stations here in the South love hurricane season because they enjoy their highest ratings of the year during that time.
But I digress. The fact remains that people routinely sight media coverage as 'proof' that pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs. This is extremely frightening because of the ever looming threat of BSL. For those of you who aren't aware, BSL stands for Breed Specific Legislation. Breed Bans.
A breed ban makes it illegal to own, harbor, train, breed, transport or sell the breed named in the ban. Many breed bans or restrictions do exist, though two of the strictest in this country are Miami/Dade County Florida and Denver Colorado. And most (those included) target Pit Bulls. There are different ways bans can go. There can be an all out ban which would state something to the affect of: As of January 1st 2010, Pit Bulls are banned within the city limits, no exceptions. This means that if you are a pit bull parent, you may have your dog until December 31st 2009 because the next day you will be in violation of the law, and animal control has the authority to come to your home, ticket you, take your dog and euthanize it. And there is nothing you can do about it. Think about it, and entire breed of dog, rounded up and killed just for being born. Sound familiar?
This is the way things are in places where breed bans exist. Your dog has done nothing wrong, your dog is a good dog and part of your family, but will be killed if found. And who you ask, is to determine weather or not your dog is a pit bull? The answer to that is the animal control officer who makes the seizure. The same folks who have trouble identifying the breed from the poster in Pit Bull Education 3. So it is one person's opinion on weather or not your dog sort of kind of could be a pit bull type looking dog. And this decision means life or death. See the problem yet?
Some places decide to 'grandfather in' existing pits, meaning that if you've owned your dog before January 1st 2010 you are OK, but any pit acquired thereafter would be considered illegal.
So, does BSL work? The answer is no. Ten days after the pit bull ban went into effect in Denver a little girl was killed by two Husky dogs . All BSL does is punish good dogs and good dog owners. It does not deter dog fighting either. Dog fighting is illegal already, and the people participating in it could care less. Do you really think that they are going to care if the dogs themselves are now also illegal? And even if their dogs are seized, what's to stop them from choosing another breed? Then are we going to ban that dog as well? Where does it end? I don't know about you but I don't like the idea of the government telling me what dog I can and can not have in my own home.
Here is a real life example of how flawed the BSL system can be: Ontario Canada has a breed ban on pit bulls. One day, a woman was sitting in her home when she heard the doorbell ring. Upon answering it, she discovered an animal control officer who handed her a ticket and asked to see her dog. When she asked why, he informed her that she owned an illegal breed of dog and that he was there to seize him for destruction. The woman's husband came into the room and asked the man to come back with a warrant. Meanwhile the couple dug around their files for the dogs paper work, you see, their dog was a registered pure bred Labrador retriever! Of course they were able to prove this and keep their dog, but what about those of us who have adopted or rescued? Or own mixed breeds? We are at the mercy of an opinion.
So, what can be done? What is affective? Enforcing our already existing dangerous dog laws for one, a mandatory spay neuter ordinance for pits (all dogs really) unless the owners pay for a breeding licence for another. Southern California made it illegal for ex cons or known/suspected gang members to own a pit bull. And of course education and.....RESPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP! (Do you see a theme yet? ;)
Make sure you stay up to date on any BSL proposed legislation in your area, and write your representatives to tell them you DO NOT WANT BSL where you live!

The media plays a huge roll in influencing the way people vote, so when BSL comes up in their community, they think back on all of the negative press and vote in favor of it. Think about it, when is the last time you heard a GOOD story reported about a pit bull? And do you really think pits are the only dogs involved in dog bites? Please read on:
August 18 2007, a Lab mix attacked a 70 year old man, sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Police officers arrived at the scene and the dog was shot after charging the officers. This incident was reported in ONE article in the local paper.
August 19th 2007, a 16 month old boy received FATAL head and neck injuries after being attacked by a mixed breed dog. This incident was reported TWO times by the local paper only.
August 21st 2007, a 59 year old woman was attacked in her home by two pit bulls and was hospitalized with severe injuries.
OK, are you ready for this???
This attack was reported in over two hundred and thirty articles in national and international newspapers, as well as major television news networks such as CNN, MSNBC and FOX.

The plight of the pit bull is an up-hill battle indeed.

Thanks for reading and hopefully learning, and please come back next time when we discuss dog fighting in Pit Bull Education 5!


  1. Good info! Thanks for getting it out there!

  2. You are more than welcome! Keep reading for more!