November 8, 2016
Dear future president,
Hello, my name is Hope and I am a high school student and dog lover from Wisconsin. As our new leader, I believe you should remove all breed specific legislation (BSL) laws. Breed specific legislation is a law that bans or restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance, usually because they are perceived as “dangerous” breeds or types of dogs. There are many myths out there about these dogs that people need to understand are not true; it’s about how the owner raises the dog, not the dog’s genes.
More than 937 cities in the US have BSL in place. In some cities, this type of legislation mandates that shelter or stray dogs that fit a certain “look” be euthanized instead of placed in homes regardless of their background or temperament. Even if there isn’t BSL in place, pit bulls will be the first to be euthanized at animal shelters. Cities and states are spending more money enforcing bans and restrictions instead of putting that money towards better uses such as establishing and enforcing licensing and leash laws. As quoted by the Obama Administration, “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."
There is no reason specific breeds should be targeted against. The most common myth about pit bulls is that they have locking jaws when in reality it is not physically possible for their jaws to “lock” and a pit bull skull has all the same characteristics compared to any other breed of dog. A myth about rottweilers is that they are vicious. Although they were bred to be guard dogs, they are very trainable and affectionate just like any other dog- another example of how it depends on the owner and how they are trained. In 2013, in Salem, Oregon, a 6-year-old girl was attacked by a pack of four chihuahuas but no one thinks to ban chihuahuas.
Throughout history pit bulls have been mascots for the American military. In the early twentieth century, pit bulls were so respected for their loyalty, determination, and bravery that they were chosen to be pictured on WWI posters in order to recruit soldiers and sell war bonds. The most decorated war dog, Sergeant Stubby, warned his troops of incoming attacks, captured a German spy all on his own, was awarded at least 13 medals, was the first decorated canine war hero and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant, and was invited to the White house by three Presidents- Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. Yet today, all military bases in the United States ban pit bulls.
Any dog can attack, regardless of its breed and you shouldn’t rely on breed stereotypes to keep yourself safe from dogs. A dog's individual history and behavior are much more important factors than its breed, and since you don't always know a dog’s history or behavior, you shouldn’t make assumptions based on its breed. Instead, you should focus on educating yourself and others on prevention.
Dogs should have equal rights just like humans do. Imagine if you were told you couldn’t live somewhere or do something because you had a specific “look” some people didn’t like. If some people don’t like a specific breed of dog, then they don’t have to own that type of breed, but they shouldn’t be able to stop others from owning that breed. Every living thing should have a chance to be heard and to prove themselves rather than just banning a whole breed. All dogs deserve to be loved. I hope you keep relinquishing all breed specific legislation laws in mind.