When I rescued a black and white mass of wriggling puppy 6 years ago, I never imagined that I would be propelled into the firestorm of a political fight to maintain the right to own my dog. Reef is an American Pit Bull Terrier, and she personifies what the breed should be. She is a stable and predictable dog; friendly to humans, and other dogs (unless they have no manners, and then she reminds them with her voice, not her teeth, how she expects them to behave). I couldn’t ever ask for more in a dog, and I know that many other APBT owners feel the same way, yet there is a growing movement looking to ban the dogs we love (as well as numerous others).
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is defined as any law, ordinance or policy that affects a specific dog breed or breeds, but does not affect any others. Common targets for BSL are pit bulls, other bull breeds with similar physical characteristics, and Rottweilers. Under this legislation, breeds deemed as dangerous to the public may be required to be muzzled in public, neutered, or banned completely. While supporters of such laws feel the need to protect the public from breeds that are stereotypically believed to be aggressive, most of these beliefs are based on unscientific theories about genetics (as in, pit bulls have the “crazy” gene) or negative associations with people who have used such dogs for fighting, etc.
There is no difference in the DNA of a pit bull and that of a Chihuahua (beyond that which makes the first weigh about 10 times as much as the second, of course). There is often no way to prove that a dog is or is not one of the breeds that falls under the guidelines of the ban. The term “pit bull type dog” has been used in some of these laws- that description could apply to anything from a boxer to a mastiff. While I could go on and on about this subject, the fact is, we need to judge every dog by their individual behavior, not by their assumed traits. For each “vicious” dog of a certain breed, I could direct you to 10 wonderful, loving family pets.
As my favorite sweatshirt says: “judge the deed, not the breed.”