On July 22, 10 families in Keystone, Iowa were told by the town sheriff that they have to rehome their dogs due to the city’s “pit bull” dog ban
It doesn’t matter if the dogs actually are what the city defines as a “pit bull” dog. It only matters if someone arbitrarily thinks they do. The ordinance, which has been in effect for 22 years, states that a “pit bull” is:
The ordinance also includes rottweilers.
We know that according to peer-reviewed research, identifying a breed of dog based on looks is inaccurate more often than not. Scientists have also found that genetics do not play as large of a role in behavior as people often assume.
All of this means that breed-specific legislation is not evidence based and therefore does nothing to keep people safe.
What breed-specific legislation does do is traumatize families and their pets. We’re seeing that play out in Keystone right now.
Sheriff Ronald Tippet does not make the laws, but he does enforce them and he does not have a history of enforcing Keystone’s BSL. So why these 10 families? Their dogs have no history of complaints or bites.
Here's how you can help
City officials need to know that people care about this issue. BSL is designed to ostracize people from their communities. These 10 families have been abandoned by their community. But we won’t abandon them. Regardless of where we live, we want them to know that we support them. Share their stories. You can also learn more about Keystone, Iowa at the city’s website.
Breed-specific legislation thrives because communities ignore it and people think it won’t ever happen to them.
But it can happen to you.
To give you more of an idea of how BSL is meant to divide communities and not protect them, Keystone resident Gabby Gormely, one of the 10 people targeted by the city, has proof that her dog isn’t any of the breeds on the city’s list. However, that doesn’t matter. She told local news outlet KCRG:
Not only is the law not historically enforced, it is an incredibly vague law that makes it impossible for dog owners to know whether or not it applies to them.
Gormely also astutely notes that legislation like this will prevent people from moving into Keystone and instead cause people to leave:
This is exactly why BSL exists – to prevent inclusivity and diversification.
Remember those key words when you talk about this issue: Inclusivity and diversification. You never want your advocacy to make people feel excluded. Use science, logic, and facts when discussing these issues and keep your emotions in check, as hard as it may be.
*As of August 1, the Keystone, Iowa website appears to be down.