Having had guarding breeds for many years I am used to people being afraid, judgemental, unsure and sometimes downright rude about my dogs’ appearance. Sometimes they were just all fired up about what they’d read or heard in the media and felt that they simply had to tell me all about it. I’ve been shouted at from a moving car, from apartment balconies (“How dare you have that dog!”) and approached at the park while I was with my family (“I will be glad when the day comes that all of those dogs are illegal!”).
I had Rottweilers during the height of their popularity. Despite the fact that they were my demo dogs for my obedience classes, despite the fact that they all had their CGCs and some were therapy dogs, people still tended to be afraid of them. While it was true that many people were kind and loved to visit the dogs, there were many who would snatch their children away, walk on the opposite side of the street to avoid being near us, and on one occasion, while 8 months pregnant no less, I was told by someone that my dog would eat my baby.
So now, while I do not own Rottweilers anymore, I deal with a lot of the same thing with the Corsos. For the most part, it’s the cropped ears that people seem to zero in on first, as well as the size of the dogs. Many folks don’t know what they are, and we get “Is that a giant Pit Bull?” a lot. No. Not a Terrier. Terriers and Mastiffs look nothing alike. Sadly their appearance and power have attracted the attention of undesirables who seek to destroy the Corso in pretty much the same way the Pit Bull has been massacred by people. We are seeing more and more in shelters as the breed grows in popularity. More of the wrong type of people are obtaining them and as a result we are ending up with another breed added to the ever-growing list of breeds banned in many parts of this country. I recently saw a law written to describe a “dangerous dog” as “any Pit Bull type dog such as a Staffordshire Terrier or Cane Corso…”
What? They are nowhere close. Terriers, Mastiffs. Sigh. Many of the folks writing these laws have no idea what they are talking about and cannot properly identify a specific breed of dog to save their lives. As a result, many dogs are being lumped in with others and banned or restricted simply based on ignorance. The dumbasses who abuse these dogs simply move from a banned breed to another one, then another one, etc. Breed banning and profiling simply doesn’t work.
By doing therapy work, going to schools and out into the community to talk about BSL and dog bite prevention and the gifts that these dogs give to us and our lives, we hope to change the perception that the media and lawmakers have that certain breeds are inherently “dangerous.” Education is key. Programs that many organizations have started around the country (offering low-cost or free spay/neuter and training services) are wonderful tools in this fight.
It is unacceptable to me that there are places in my own country that my own dogs are restricted or banned. I cannot accept that someone could come to my door and ask me to surrender my dogs. Yet it is happening in our own country. It is happening around the world. It is up to all of us to get involved and do our part if we want to be able to have and enjoy our dogs.
From the website StopBSL.org:
What is BSL?
BSL is an ethical failure. BSL is a public safety failure.
Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is a law that bans OR restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance, usually because they are perceived as “dangerous” breeds or types of dogs.
**It is a common misconception that BSL refers only to breed bans. BSL is seen in two forms: bans and restrictions.**
A breed ban usually requires that all dogs of a certain appearance (“targeted breed”) be removed from the municipality wherein the ban has been implemented. After the effective date of the ban, dogs in the municipality that are identified as targeted breeds are usually subject to being killed by animal control, though in some cases, such dogs may be saved if relocation is an option. Breed bans may have grandfather clauses that allow dogs of targeted breeds to stay in the ban area (provided they are registered with the municipality by a certain date, and likely subject to various breed-specific restrictions).
Breed-specific restrictions may require an owner of a targeted breed do any of the following or more, depending on how the law is written:
- Muzzle the dog in public
- Spay or neuter the dog
- Contain the dog in a kennel with specific requirements (6′ chain link walls, lid, concrete floors, etc.)
- Keep the dog on a leash of specific length or material
- Purchase liability insurance of a certain amount
- Place “vicious dog” signs on the outside of the residence where the dog lives
- Make the dog wear a “vicious dog” tag or other identifying marker
Breed-specific legislation applies only to dogs of a certain appearance, not to any and all dogs. It does not take into account how the owner has raised, trained, or managed the dog. It does not take into account the dog’s actual behavior.
“Breed specific” is something of a misnomer. Some breed specific laws don’t target specific breeds, but rather, a loosely defined class of dogs (e.g. “pit bull” or “shepherd”). Almost all BSL also includes a “substantially similar” clause: “or any dog with an appearance or physical characteristics that are substantially similar to the aforementioned breeds.” In other words, targeted dogs are often subject to BSL not because they are in fact a specific breed, but because they simply look similar to a particular breed or have a general physical appearance that someone might consider “targeted breed-like.”
BSL is sometimes known by another acronym: BDL, or breed discriminatory law.
WHY IS BSL WRONG?
- BSL does not improve public safety or prevent dog bites.
- BSL ignores the plight of victims and potential victims of non-targeted breeds.
- BSL is costly.
- BSL requires each and every dog to be identified as a breed—something that has proven impossible to do accurately and objectively.
- BSL makes targeted breeds more desirable to irresponsible and criminal owners.
- BSL does nothing to make irresponsible dog owners accountable.
- BSL punishes responsible dog owners.
- Not a single canine welfare organization supports BSL.