In Winnipeg, a man is leaving his hometown so he can keep his dog, labelled a ‘pit bull’ by city officials. Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the creation of policy that persecutes a dog – and their owner – on nothing more than their looks or perceived breed. It is responsible for thousands of deaths of dogs in Ontario and has a foothold in many municipalities.
The problem with BSL is its very foundation: fear and ignorance. Pit bull-like dogs – since ‘pit bull’ is not an actual breed – are what their surroundings make them. As small, strong dogs, pit bull-like breeds have been popular for dog fighting rings and as ‘security’ dogs. But the overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows that dogs are what their owners make them.
Dog experts agree that BSL does not reduce bites or unruly behaviour. The only thing that will is a combination of owner-based regulations and ongoing education.
We thought so, too. The call for culls often echoes the same sentiments as BSL. Fear, reactive policy and ignorance of current science, rule when the subject comes up.