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Nevada Takes a Bite out of BSL

“A local authority shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance or regulation that deems a dog dangerous or vicious based solely on the breed of the dog.”
— Nevada AB 110, signed by Governor Brian Sandoval on May 24, 2013

With the addition of those words to state law last month, it became illegal for any city, town, or county in Nevada to pass any legislation banning a dog simply because of its breed. This is a huge step in the right direction, one which should inspire other states to do the same. Various studies have already shown that breed specific legislation (BSL) is ineffective at best and a waste of resources in general. A 2003 study by a Prince George’s County, Maryland, task force — seven years after BSL was enacted there — showed that the “public safety benefit is unmeasurable.” For that negligible effect, the county spent over half a million dollars a year, with the cost to seize and destroy a single pit bull $68,000 per incident. At the same time, the task force reported, “Across the board, dog bites had decreased among all breeds at about the same rate. The ban did not appear to have had any noticeable effect on public safety.”

Even a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study on dog bite fatalities in the US concluded that, “Many practical alternatives to breed-specific ordinances exist and hold promise for prevention of dog bites.”


According to the ASPCA, the problem is never the breed, but the way a dog is treated by the humans around it. In one study, they determined that 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal attacks were not spayed or neutered, and that more than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs. The ASPCA report on BSL concludes, “Recognizing that the problem of dangerous dogs requires serious attention, the ASPCA seeks effective enforcement of breed-neutral laws that hold dog owners accountable for the actions of their animals.” Nevada’s recent legislation is a good start, but there’s more work to be done. When asked about the issue by Indulge magazine, Cesar said, “What I’d like to see in the media is to stop using ‘pit bull’ to describe something aggressive or vicious. And I’d like to see them treat pit bull attacks more fairly. I don’t deny that they happen, but so do other dog attacks, but they’re not nearly as widely covered because I don’t think news people think a Labrador biting someone is as juicy a story as a pit bull.”

According to a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the three most aggressive breeds are the dachshund, Chihuahua, and Jack Russell terrier — none of which ever show up in breed specific legislation bans.

Pit bull and other breed bans in the US go back almost 30 years, long enough for the experiment to have proven a failure. Even at that time, however, rational voices spoke out against such bans.

In 1984, Alachua County Commissioner Ed Turlington’s public consideration of a pit bull ban, based in part on Miami’s contemplation of similar legislation, stirred up the debate. A letter to the editor of the Gainesville (Florida) Sun from dog lover Deborah J. Dalziel on August 14, 1984, clearly states the opposition argument : “It is sheer ignorance for anyone to think that the solution to aggressive dogs is to ban certain breeds... The problem is one of irresponsible owners and so called ‘breeders’ who continue to breed dogs with aggressive temperaments and do so knowingly, often for profit.”

Breed specific bans are not the solution to the problem — laws holding people strictly responsible for the actions of their dogs are. Thirty years into a failed experiment, it’s time to rewrite the legislation to let the dogs off the hook while holding irresponsible people accountable.

Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/the-scoop/dognews/Nevada-Takes-a-Bite-out-of-BSL#ixzz2X5mpwOSY

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