2001-Fri Jun 22 13:24:35 EDT 2018
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Breed-specific legislation is the controversial practice of limiting or banning certain types of dogs, with the aim of reducing dog bites and fatal dog attacks. But while breed bans permit discrimination, they don't actually keep people or pets safe.
Under some breed-specific legislation, breeds labeled as "dangerous" can be banned in a city or municipality. Pit Bulls and related bully breeds are the most likely targets, but other types of dogs, including German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and Chow Chows, may also be affected. Owners of these breeds face difficult choices: Some may move to other areas in order to keep their dogs, while others resort to rehoming, relinquishing or even euthanizing banned pets. Restrictions may also mandate compliance with specific rules, like keeping the dog muzzled in public or carrying insurance to cover the dog.
I had a chance recently to speak with dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, who appears on Animal Planet's It’s Me or the Dog and is a strong opponent of breed bans. "Breed bans give people a false sense of security when they believe only Pit Bulls are dangerous and other breeds are less so.” She adds, “The media terrifies people into thinking a certain breed will kill them, while other breeds are safe. People believe what they read many times without going deeper into the ‘why’ behind the bite."
As a result of these misperceptions, otherwise friendly, well-trained dogs with no prior aggression are labeled as dangerous simply because of their physical characteristics — and their breeds.
Stilwell and other trainers agree that aggressive dogs are largely the result of human influence rather than inherent breed-specific characteristics. Improper breeding, neglect, lack of training or force-based training and restricted socialization can increase aggressive tendencies.“We are targeting the wrong end of the leash," Stilwell says.
Stilwell believes that a powerful tool to help prevent aggression lies in holding the owners of aggressive dogs responsible for their dogs' actions. She believes that some simple tactics can help make pet owners accountable for their dogs' behaviors. "Microchipping is important for all dogs," she says, not just to help find lost pets but to identify the responsible parties in biting incidents. "When more people are worried about what could happen to them if their dogs bite, they will be more accountable and responsible for their dogs," Stilwell argues, "because they don’t want to be fined or jailed.”
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.