Friday, July 27, 2012

Breed Specific Legislation

Like many families across the world, our family is big time animal lovers. We have four pets; one dog and three cats. All have been rescues. We are firmly committed that is much better to rescue and adopt pets as opposed to buying them from breeders and pet shops.

 As animal lovers, we find it very troubling when we hear stories of animal abuse, neglect, and injustice. Like many, we recently heard about the heartbreaking story of Lennox who was a Labrador and American Bulldog mix that was heartlessly euthanized in Belfast on July 11, 2012 in accordance with their Breed Specific Laws.

 In Lennox's story, he was targeted because of his appearance and that he 'resembled' a pit bull. Lennox was actually a service dog to a chronically ill child and had never bitten anyone or exhibited aggressive behavior. Despite numerous pleas from dog advocates around the world to provide sanctuary for the dog, Belfast taunted the family by not allowing the family to even say goodbye to their beloved pet and euthanized him.

 The problem with Breed Specific Legislation is that it unfairly targets breeds based on preconceived notions and myths. Many times, individuals believe that certain breeds are just born aggressive, such as pit bulls, rottweilers, and other large breeds. The reality is, the problem is not with the breed, but rather in how the dog is raised.

 Breed Specific Legislation or BSL as it is more commonly known is set on wiping out breeds that they feel are harmful to society. In fact, much like Lennox's story, a dog does not have to be a pit bull but simply resemble one.

 Instead of creating laws that work to eliminate breeds, new legislation should be enacted that targets the owners. Responsible dog owners will raise responsible dogs. By going after individuals who operate dog fighting rings, abuse animals, and do not properly take care of their pets, much of the misconception regarding 'bully breeds' can be laid to rest.

 Although fighting Breed Specific Legislation is a large scale issue, there are many things that you can do easily to help raise awareness that BSL is not the answer.

First, educate yourself on BSL in your area. BSL laws vary not only from state to state, but county to county as well. It is important to find out if your area is affected and there is a ban on certain breeds.

Secondly, start writing your mayors, lawmakers, politicians, and animal rescue groups and share your position and ideas on how to reform the law and bring about positive change. It is important to note when writing, make sure that you do so in a classy and tasteful manner. Temper, slurs, and slander will not get your point across any faster but simply get your letter in the trash. Your letters can include solutions to better regulate dog owners, increase awareness regarding safer interactions between dogs and society, or even enforcing leash laws more. Whatever your point is in the fight against BSL, make sure that it is not lost in a fury of anger.

 Lastly, find a shelter and rescue group and get out there and volunteer. Many of the animals that are put down are in shelters and they just need someone to take a chance on them. Many times, shelters and rescue groups have low cost spay/neuter programs that are always looking for volunteers to help educate and increase awareness. Most dogs that have been violent are adults that have not been spayed or neutered and have been trained to be that way.

Wherever you are, no matter your age, you can take a stand and fight against BSL and be a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves.

It is incomprehensible to punish an entire breed based on looks, myths, and hype. As many have stated before, punish the deed and not the breed.

 For more information on BSL, check out Help me Put an End to Breed Specific Legislation.

Stay informed and if you hear about any families currently fighting to keep their dog from being euthanized under BSL, please let me know so we can increase awareness!

Until next time!

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