Thursday, May 31, 2007

Breed-Specific Legislation, Again?!

I know, I know, I'm *way* behind in updating Laev's blog, but I just couldn't let this go by.

The word is that our mayor Bart Peterson will introduce his BSL again this year. And I find that ridiculous. After all, we've fought it down twice now, and the last time we were very clear that the problems the city was citing could be addressed not by BSL which would hurt responsible dog owners more than the criminal element they complained of, but by cracking down on the dog fight rings and associated drug activity. That's where the Animal Control officers were complaining of threat to their persons -- not from the sweet-tempered family pets who are coming through my training classes.

But I guess it's a lot easier as a politician to invent new laws and create the appearance of activity than to enforce existing laws with less media buzz.

And enforcing the old laws *would* help. That pit bull which mauled the child last year? I don't mean to downplay that as a tragedy -- it's not, it was awful for that child. But that dog and its owner had been reported to Animal Control three times before that incident, with no real action. A basic enforcement of the existing leash law would have prevented that bite just as well (and with much less backlash against responsible owners already obeying existing laws) as a breed ban -- probably more so, since I doubt a legal ban would have fazed such obviously negligent owners.

A friend sent a link to a blog post on dog politics and owner responsibility. The gist of this is true -- this is a human problem, not a dog problem, and it's driven by over-hyped media. (I've seen photos of Lab mixes, posted with bite stories, labeled as "pit bulls." Puh-lease!)

If you own a dog, or if you like dogs, don't think this won't eventually affect you. There are places in the world where Corgis and other small dogs are considered "dangerous" and are regulated by law -- once the precedent is set, it's easy to add any breed with a bite to the list of vicious dogs. I am wholly in favor of safe and responsible ownership! and wholly opposed to breed-specific legislation.

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