Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BSL (breed-specific legislation)

I heard from a couple of friends this morning - one a trainer, one in charge of the Canine Good Citizen program - that they are trying to work with the military in various ways to mitigate their sudden adoption of BSL. In case you hadn't heard, the military now bans breeds and mixes of Rottweilers and Pit Bulls from all of their military housing. So a military spouse who was relying on the family dog to provide companionship and possibly protection (or at least a feeling of protection) while the soldier or sailor was posted overseas is now told that he or she has to give the dog up.
This apparently met with some pretty stern resistance, as the military has now amended their position to allow these dogs to stay if they have passed the CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test.
So my trainer friend has started an accelerated CGC course for folks on a nearby military base, because no time limit has yet been stated, and no one knows if the dogs are legal and allowed to stay while they are training to pass the CGC.
The director of the CGC program has written to the upper brass of the military, pointing out that while the CGC is a fine program, plenty of dogs make excellent family members without benefit of the training necessary to pass the test.
This is just one of the latest examples of a non-thinking knee-jerk reaction to one or another incidents with dogs biting or attacking people. Of course the dogs being mentioned are large and powerful and can do serious damage if they should turn their teeth to humans. But much smaller dogs are actually more likely to bite -- Cocker Spaniels and Chihuahuas are noted as two of the breeds responsible for most bites to family members and veterinarians.
But this is more an individual issue than a breed issue. As citizens of the United States, we are supposed to be assumed innocent until proven guilty. But this concept certainly goes out the window when it comes to dogs. Entire breeds and beyond (Just what is a Pit Bull mix anyway? Half the dogs in our local shelter are labeled as part Pit Bull.) are legislated against as a result of the actions of a few. And those few often did what they did as a result of human involvement.
Politicians are fond of ranting about slippery slopes and the thin edge of the wedge and the camel's nose under the tent. . . all presumably meaning that one particular form of injustice will quickly lead to a wider spread. So here is this perfectly evident example of total injustice, and yet a large number of ill-informed politicans are all for BSL.
And insurance companies, ohmigod! They each have their own lists of banned breeds, at least one of which includes Keeshonden. Thirty-five pound fuzzballs of affection! It has gone quite beyond insane. Dog lovers everywhere owe it to their charges to protest against BSL wherever it rears its ugly head. Make sure your insurance company does not practice it. Contact your local politicians and try to make them understand "it's the deed, not the breed."
Don't sit back and let it go because it's not affecting you. It might, and someday soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment