Bear with me folks; I am on a bit of a rant.
Today’s rant? BSL – Breed Specific Legislation.
Despite science, common sense and a history of failure, Montreal recently passed an ordinance banning pit bulls and “pit bull-type” dogs after a fatal dog mauling incident that occurred in June. The ordinance, that was set to take effect on October 3, would prohibit the adoption of any “pit bull-type” dog, require people with “pit bull-type” dogs to get a special permit/license, additional insurance and enforced sterilization. People who currently have a dog loosely fitting the description would have to apply to be able to keep their dog and IF their dog is grand-fathered in and allowed to live, it must be muzzled in public.
At this time, a judge has issued a stay on the ordinance pending a lawsuit filed by the Montreal SPCA. The Montreal SPCA has also confirmed through DNA testing that the dog involved in the June incident was a Golden Retriever/Rottweiler/Mastiff mix.
Essentially, this ordinance and others like it target any dog with a blocky head without regard for truth, history or science. One official was actually quoted as saying that visual identification would be the primary method of enforcing the new law because after all,” if it looks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it’s got to be a duck”. Makes sense, right? The visual identification of a Golden Retriever/Rottweiler/Mastiff mix as a pit bull-type dog is certainly the duck they are talking about.
Something horrific happened in June. A woman was killed by a dog. That dog was labeled by the media as a “pit bull-type” dog.
As a result, the government of Montreal reacted. That reaction was to pass a law that would ban any dog that might possibly be in any way something close to what is commonly thought to be a “pit bull-type” dog. That reaction – that law – if enforced could cause thousands of perfectly healthy, highly adoptable dogs of any breed, with no history of aggression or behavioral issues, to be euthanized.
Moving to the bigger picture – something horrible happened; the media sensationalized it; the government reacted to it. The result of that reaction is a law that is not backed by science, statistics, experts, or even anecdotal proof of success. The result of that reaction is death.
When I was in college, one of my favorite professors was a Holocaust survivor. I took as many classes as I could for my minor (Sociology) from someone who spent his formative years in a concentration camp. It was frightening and eye-opening. He survived. Most of his family did not. Ironically, he was not a member of any of the groups being targeted by the Nazi’s. He did, however, “look” a certain way and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He “looked” a certain way and spent his formative years in a concentration camp. Let that sink in.
We have a long history and wealth of information that targeting specific groups – taking action against a group based on looks, religion, size, gender, sexual orientation, etc., out of fear that a small percentage of the members of that group might do something, someday, somewhere that could be bad does not actually stop bad things from happening. Not with dogs. Not with humans. Not ever.
If we allow the media to inflame our biases, we are allowing ourselves to be spoon-fed hate and fear.
Pandering to hate and fear creates hate and fear.
The “pit bull-type” dogs are not the block-heads here…