posted on Jun, 30 2012 @ 12:44 AM
Just thought I would share an essay I wrote in college (mods please move into right place).
Breed Specific Legislation
Breed Specific Legislation refers to a law or set of regulations which concern specific breeds of domestic animals and pets. The law is more commonly
applicable to certain types of dog breeds. The law basically forbids the possession of certain types of dogs that is believed to be potentially
dangerous to both the owner and the general public. It also involves certain restrictive laws to those who are allowed to own such breeds. The basis
for banning certain breeds is that they are believed to be dangerous and vicious and thus pose a danger to the public (Karp, 2004). Those opposed to
this legislation claim that the responsibility for a dog’s behavior and the consequences thereof ought to lie in the owner and not the animal. On
the other hand, the proponents of breed specific legislation claim that certain breeds of dogs are innately and naturally dangerous and should thus be
banned, neutered or restrained in one way or another through proper legislative measures. This paper outlines that Breed Specific Legislation should
be abolished because the responsibility for a dog’s behavior should lie in its owner and not the specific dog.
Studies and statistical surveys indicate that most of the dog bite incidents that involve children usually occur with dogs that are familiar to them.
This shows that the problem is not a problem of the breed but one of proper dog management. The Breed Specific Legislation targets specific dog breeds
with the intent of protecting other people from the dangerous qualities of these dogs. The law does not primarily seek to protect the owner of the dog
but his neighbors and people who may be strangers to the dog. This is an ineffective approach to solving the problem because it does not account for
incidences at home. Furthermore, the legislation gives the owners of breeds that are not outlawed a false sense of security. It leads them to perceive
their own dogs as safe and thus, they do not incorporate any care or security measures in case of an incident.
Secondly, the research that goes into the making of the decision to legislate against specific dog breeds is usually a criminological one, rather than
a veterinarian or behavior specialist. In the case of a bite incidence, it is often the police who go to investigate, and not the relevant experts
such as veterinarians. The same behavioral standards that criminal profilers apply to human beings cannot be applied to a dog (Beaver, 2001). The
following are some of the dog breeds that are often banned in many countries: the American Pit Bull terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the
American Bulldog and the American Staffordshire Terrier among others. These dogs are classified as vicious and thus posing a danger to the public.
However, even though this conclusion is based on empirical evidence, there is no sufficient behavioral research that has gone into the study, which
means that alternative solutions have not been sufficiently considered and can thus not be implemented.
The third major reason why breed specific legislation should be abolished is the practical complications involved in enforcing the law. For instance,
the constitutionality of dog discrimination by breed type faces a lot of challenges. This is because the purpose of the law and the breed
classification do not seem to have a rational basis to make a reasonable relationship. One of the reasons the law is regarded as unconstitutional is
because it seems to encourage uninformed and inconsistent enforcement. The lack of clarity in exactly what is being prohibited is clearly evident in
the way specific dog breeds are named in the law. For example, the breed specific legislation usually refers to the “pit bull” as a dog breed.
However, this is not an accurate description of a dog breed as no such breed exists (Cohen & Richardson, 2002). Furthermore, no specifics are provided
regarding how someone may find out which breed their dog is or if it is the one being referred to. There is also no consideration given to mixed
breeds. Such ambiguities make the legislation insufficiently researched and thus not justified.
The final major argument against the breed specific legislation is what is commonly referred to as, in some circles, as the “deed not breed”
argument. Since the main logic behind breed specific legislation is that these dogs are more likely to bite and more likely to cause harm, then there
are actually other dogs which are not banned and are even more dangerous. These are the poorly trained dogs (Overall & Love, 2001). The danger of a
dog is highly dependent upon how it is nurtured. Even dogs that would be considered to be naturally good, when raised in the wrong environment, can
end up being equally as bad. The solution to good dog behavior does not lie in breed specific legislation, but on good training and socializing. The
legislation ought to focus on the training, not the breed. Scientific studies and biological investigations for instance show that unneutered males
tend to bite more. But this is often a product of both hormonal and behavioral problems. Solving just one problem, hormonal, does not guarantee a
While the reasons for opposing breed specific legislation are clear and seem reasonable, there are also good reasons which led to the actual
legislation in the first place. An analysis of these reasons may end up making the issue sound more of like the endless nature versus nurture debate.
However, a closer look is bound to indicate where the true problem, and thus the true solution, lies. For instance, it is indeed a proven scientific
fact that certain breeds of dogs have unique behavioral qualities. These qualities range from their physical strength, aggressiveness, tolerance to
pain and agility. Studies also reveal certain dogs as displaying more recurrent episodes of aggression. These and more are causes for administering
the selective treatment afforded by breed specific aggression (Nelson, 2005). Even though this argument is based upon a valid scientific premise, it
does not consider the fact that this may simply be implying that certain breeds need greater care. It does not necessarily justify their abolishment
since it only considers the negative side without weighing it against any positives.
The second major support for breed specific legislation is that the decision to ban the ownership of dogs such as pit bulls was based upon a risk
assessment. There are specific breeds of dogs that pose more danger to the public compared to others. Insufficient understanding as to exactly why
these specific dogs are more dangerous should not hinder the public safety from being protected. Even though the opponents of the legislation claim
that the studies done are not expert and not enough, mere empirical evidence has proven otherwise. To argue against breed discrimination is to impose
a human standard of argument which is used for racial discrimination and stereotyping. The proponents of breed specific legislation thus propose that
since dogs are not more important than human beings, then they cannot receive similar rights or rationale in their legislation (Nelson, 2005). While
this argument does utilize a logical line of reasoning, it fails for a similar reason as the one mentioned in the previous paragraph.