BSL is Contagious. Speak Up Now.

Despite the positive trend we saw in 2012 (more discriminatory laws were repealed or rejected than passed last year), Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) remains a problem in communities around the world and, as we’re seeing in Maryland and Boston, it’s having a serious impact on families right now.

Here’s what we need you all to know: BSL doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It spreads. Areas that think they have a problem will look to other communities to see what they are doing and then copy their actions. If BSL happens in one town, it doesn’t just affect that town – it spreads beyond city or state borders and affects everyone.

BSL is contagious. 

animal farm foundation: BSL is contagious

This contagion affects us all, no matter what kind of dog we have. In fact, BSL affects everyone, whether or not they even own a pet.

While it’s true that BSL discriminates against certain dogs and certain owners, it does one thing across the board: BSL jeopardizes everyone’s safety equally.

BSL is not a “pit bull” dog issue. It’s not something that only affects “pit bull” dogs and their families. BSL denies all of us the opportunity to live in a safe, humane community.

There is no “us vs. them” when it comes to wanting a safe community. Dog owners, including “pit bull” dog owners, want to be protected from the reckless few who disregard the laws that govern responsible pet ownership. Discriminating against dog owners because of what their dog looks like will never make for a safer community. Holding reckless owners accountable will.

BSL fails all of us:

  • BSL is ineffective and expensive (your tax dollars are being wasted). It has never been proven to increase public safety. Learn more about how BSL fails here.
  • BSL is time-consuming and nearly impossible to enforce. Animal control officers must spend time and resources seizing and destroying family dogs, based only on their physical appearances, rather than focusing their efforts on protecting the community from truly dangerous animals.
  • BSL doesn’t treat all citizens equally. Every citizen deserves to be protected from ALL reckless dog owners, regardless of what kind of dog they own. BSL only targets certain breeds or breed mixes, based only on how they look and not based on how a dog actually behaves. Every dog owner should be held equally accountable.
  • BSL targets dogs of all kinds. Think your dog is safe because you don’t own a “pit bull” dog? BSL is a slippery slope and your dog might be the next victim. All it takes is one person accusing your dog of being a “pit bull” and you might be forced to give up your dog.  See what happened when one woman’s mixed breed dog was reported to be a “pit bull” dog. BSL has also targeted more than 30 different breeds of dogs, from Boston Terriers and Chihuahuas to Siberian Huskies and Great Danes. No one is safe.
  • BSL and “no kill” are incompatible. Cities can’t claim to be “no kill” if a breed ban is in place. Euthanizing any dog identified as a banned breed, regardless of the dog’s individual temperament, is incompatible with the “no kill” philosophy. Forward thinking animal welfare policies don’t allow for discrimination.
  • BSL creates an atmosphere of fear. Families who can’t move to other towns wind up hiding their dogs. Neighbors get the message that “those dogs” aren’t safe and look at their neighbor’s dogs differently. Myths, lies, and hype take the place of facts, truth, and personal experiences. Fear replaces logic.
  • BSL perpetuates myths. BSL suggests we can accurately identify a dog’s breed based on their looks and that a dog’s breed is an accurate predictor of behavior. Science, like this analysis from the AVMA, has repeatedly shown that both of these concepts are false. We cannot accurately i.d. a dog based only on their physical appearance. And we cannot predict or assume to know how a dog will act in the future, based only on their breed.
  • BSL discriminates against people. While BSL may seem to be a battle about dogs, it is just as much about the people who own them. Stereotypes, prejudice, and assumptions about who owns “pit bull” dogs fuels the discrimination our dogs face. “Pit bull” dog owners are just as responsible and involved in their communities as any other dog owner. BSL assumes otherwise. It’s an insult to “pit bull” dog owners everywhere to be treated as “second class” dog owners who have no regard for safety or the law. It’s not true and we won’t stand for it.

Breed Specific Legislation fails us and our communities. Clearly, it’s not just “pit bull” dogs that benefit from putting an end to BSL. Everyone benefits when breed neutral laws, that hold ALL reckless dog owners accountable for their actions, are in place.

It’s in all of our best interests to defeat BSL. We ALL want safe, humane communities and won’t stand for this discrimination.

If you believe that all dogs should be treated fairly and equally, please take a stand.

Here’s how:

  • Reach out beyond your borders. Your polite phone calls and letters DO make a difference, even if you do not live in the municipality being affected by BSL. Contrary to popular belief, hearing from citizens around the country does have an affect on local politicians. Reach out beyond your town to help those being discriminated against.
  • Boycott towns that have BSL: don’t hold conferences, competitions, or events in these towns. Take your money to places that don’t discriminate. Money talks.
  • Send us your photos. AFF’s Majority Project is designed to put an end to damaging stereotypes that fuel discrimination against “pit bull” dogs and their families. Send us your photos and help us show policymakers that we won’t be insulted any longer.
  • Download the app. Download the free AFF app “Talking Pit Bull Dogs” for a BSL Talking Point guide, including tips for letter writing. Don’t use apps? You can find that info at the end of this webinar.
  • Don’t be silent. Even if you don’t own a “pit bull” dog, it could be your dogs next. Help us stop the cycle of discrimination now, so that no other group of dog owners ever has to take up this fight again. Join “pit bull” dog families in your town and demand fair and effective breed neutral polices. Let your policy makers know that you won’t stand for discrimination and ineffective laws that compromise everyone’s well being.

“Pit bull” dog families and advocates around the country can’t defeat BSL without your help. Please help us stand up for all dogs.

Let’s stop BSL in its tracks. 

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