Breed-Specific Education

July 23, 2019

Pit bulls get a lot of bad press in today’s world. They are often portrayed as dangerous, ill-tempered, and two-faced. They have been reported so negatively that many establishments and cities have banned them from visiting or residing there. The laws that set these limitations fall under the term “Breed-specific legislation”, or BSL.

The ASPCA says it best on their BSL info page: “Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain dog breeds in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals. However, the problem of dangerous dogs will not be remedied by the “quick fix” of breed-specific laws—or, as they should truly be called, breed-discriminatory laws.”

Bully breeds are often the target of BSL. So why do pitties get such a bad rep?

To begin with, the term “pit bull” doesn’t actually describe a specific breed of dog, rather a class of dogs with similar characteristics, including the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and others. By lumping these breeds in together, any statistic indicating a high rate of bite is artificially inflated. We believe it is unfair to compare an entire class of dogs, pit bulls in this case, to one specific breed of dog. Because there is a significantly higher population of pit bulls, statistically they will represent more bite cases.

Also, research has found that people often misidentify dogs as pit bulls. In one study, out of a group of dogs, only 25 were classified as pit bulls but 62 were identified as such. Meaning that people who witness attacks or bites often misidentify the dog as a pit bull.

The bottom line is this: the breed or class of dog is not the sole indicator of temperament. We firmly believe that the way an animal is raised, trained, and treated plays a large role in their behavior. Just because an animal has an unidentified past, it does not mean they are more likely to bite. As with all dogs (and any animal for that matter), being aware of their body language and listening to their verbal cues is imperative in avoiding incidents.

A4 is firmly against breed-specific legislation, for the well-being of dogs, pet parents, and the general public. We believe every dog should have the opportunity to be seen for who they are, and met with an open-mind instead of pre-conceived notions based on stereotypes and unfounded assumptions.

To learn more about BSL, and better alternatives for keeping dogs and people safe, read the ASPCA info page – it’s good stuff.