White House comes out against breed bans
The American Staffordshire terrier, the bull terrier and the Rottweiler are frequent targets of breed-specific legislation.
There's a new dog in the fight against controversial breed-specific legislation: the White House.
In response to a petition that's garnered more than 30,000 signatures from opponents of breed-specific legislation, the Obama administration recently issued an official statement: "We don't support breed-specific legislation. Research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources."
A similar study by the American Veterinary Medical Association's Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions acknowledges the same issue: That even if statistics on dog-bite attacks could be assigned to certain breeds, local ordinances banning those breeds would essentially be impossible to enforce. Here's what that report says:
"Breed-specific ordinances imply that there is an objective method of determining the breed of a particular dog, when in fact, there is not at this time. Owners of mixed-breed dogs or dogs that have not been registered with a national kennel club have no way of knowing whether their dog is one of the types identified and whether they are required to comply with a breed-specific ordinance. In addition, law enforcement personnel typically have no scientific means for determining a dog’s breed that can withstand the rigors of legal challenge, nor do they have a foolproof method for deciding whether owners are in compliance or in violation of laws. Such laws assume that all dogs of a certain breed are likely to bite, instead of acknowledging that most dogs are not a problem. These laws often fail to take normal dog behavior into account and may not assign appropriate responsibilities to owners."
Part of the response argues that breed bans won't deter the people who intentionally raise aggressive dogs; they'll just move on to a new breed that hasn't yet been regulated by their local laws. The most promising way to prevent dog bites, the memo contends, is through education and "a community-based approach."
That type of community-based approach — including education and providing incentives for spaying and neutering animals — is exactly what the ASPCA champions to help reduce dog-attack numbers.
What's more, Perry says, is that the unintended consequences of breed bans may cause formerly responsible owners to turn on the basic, fundamental standards of pet ownership. These people aren't just going to surrender their dogs — instead, they'll try to avoid detection by restricting their dog's outdoor exercise, avoiding microchipping and maybe even neglecting veterinary care.
"Trying to identify a breed by eyeballing that dog is incredibly reckless. Obviously many, many dogs are crossbreeds or multiple breeds, and it's very hard to differentiate between them just by looking at a dog, or even by the dog's behavior. Even genetic tests are questionable."
While proponents of breed-neutral legislation are sure to appreciate the Obama administration's statement, it's hardly the end of the story. The question remains: Will this lead to federal legislation against breed bans, trumping contentious laws in places such as Maryland, Denver and Miami?
Says Perry: "We'll certainly be keeping our ear to the ground on that."
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guy on the left must be excited to have his picture taken. and by the way one of those Staffordshire moved in our neighborhood, wasn't even fully grown yet, and went after my dog (a 27 lb golden mix) and picked him up with his teeth by the back / skin while both were on a leash. unfortunately my wife was the one walking our dog or I might've been able to grab him in time.
luckily needless to say my dog hates that dog and looks for him anytime he can, to bark his head off and give a piece of his mind. I think most owners of these breeds don't know how to control their dogs or know their tendencies. they also need to get them fixed, which helps with aggression and not to mention controling the pet population if they escape.
though I will say Spuds MacKenzie in the middle seems the most harmless.
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