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BSL

To Whom It Concerns,

I am writing to day to express my grave concern regarding [   ] proposal to enact a “vicious dog” or “BSL” ordinance, illegalizing the ownership of particular dog breeds including pit bulls, mixed pit bull breeds, and Rottweilers.  As a mother and person who shares her home with no dogs I believe I can adequately approach this situation in an impartial manner. Although the premise of this proposal is inherently biased and potentially unconstitutional, it is important to recognize it is based on what I would define as erroneous information, inaccurate witness accounts, and according to inequitable circumstances. To target particular canine breeds according to hysterical outbursts, impetuous reactions to news accounts, and false testimony is pure conjecture and serves no purpose other than creating conflict and dividing the community. This is neither productive nor beneficial. The inclination to protect the community from any potential canine attacks is both understandable and admirable; however, while our objective is equal our strategies differ.

Please allow me to elaborate. Dog attack accounts are ubiquitous, the media seemingly pandering to the universal desire for exaggerated and biased events. For example “pit bull” seems to be a loaded phrase, no longer merely representing a canine breed but rather responsible for evoking images of horrific, bloody fights, sadistic people, and a grossly prejudiced level of fear. To allow these dogs to be defined by a select few using propaganda and exaggerated and even false claims is unjust, unprincipled, and unethical. Please acknowledge that statistics can be manipulated to support any theory; when one theorizes using data to support such, one inevitably selects biased information. It is imperative that this situation not be approached from your theory that certain breeds are innately dangerous. Indeed, if I had the inclination, I am confident I could establish that miniature pinschers and labradors are the two most aggressive, menacing canine species using distorted accounts and manufactured or embellished “facts” to substantiate my position. Concentrating on the species rather than the problem of negligent owners, dog attacks, or dog bites in general is illogical and unfairly targets particular breeds, compliant dogs, and their responsible caretakers.

I am certain you are well aware of the arguments against breed-specific legislation (BSL): any breed can be potentially dangerous depending on the circumstances; any breed of dog can be trained to act in dangerous manners; any breed of dog can be provoked to fight in defensive situations; liability should be assigned to irresponsible people who fail to leash or train their dogs in appropriate manners; people who illegally support dog-fighting or other similar pursuits will commit crimes regardless of existing breed-specific legislation. BSL is therefore not an accurate or reliable deterrent, victimizing innocent dogs and their caretakers while neglecting to address those culpable: people who intentionally neglect their dogs or those who deliberately train them in aggressive behaviors. Enacting BSL only propagates breed-specific fear and irrational approaches to valid concerns. When communities become immune to legitimate problems by unreasonably focusing on targeted breeds and their owners, the problem only escalates, allowing deviant behaviours to flourish; when people start questioning the absence of enforcement and solution, you will determine that BSL is a fallible approach to controlling or preventing dog attacks.

Although the potential unconstitutionality of BSL is beyond the scope of my knowledge, please allow me this opportunity to share with you a few statements as taken from A community approach to dog bite prevention, American Veterinary Medical Association Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions. JAVMA, Vol 218, No. 11, June 1, 2001, and although these statements may not represent the most current data, JAVMA is decidedly unbiased with respect to BSL and can be considered an impartial
source :

Animal control legislation has traditionally been considered a constitutionally legitimate exercise of local government power to protect public safety and welfare. Breed-specific ordinances, however, raise constitutional questions concerning dog owners’ fourteenth amendment rights of due process and equal protection. When a specific breed of dog is selected for control, 2 constitutional questions are raised: first, because all types of dogs may inflict injury to people and property, ordinances addressing only 1 breed of dog appear to be underinclusive and, therefore, violate owners’ equal protection rights; and second, because identification of a dog’s breed with the certainty necessary to impose sanctions on the dog’s owner is impossible, such ordinances have been considered unconstitutionally vague and, therefore, to violate due process.

Breed or type bans—Concerns about ‘dangerous’ dogs have caused many local governments to consider supplementing existing animal control laws with ordinances directed toward control of specific breeds or types of dogs. Members of the Task Force believe such ordinances are inappropriate and ineffective. Statistics on fatalities and injuries caused by dogs cannot be responsibly used to document the “dangerousness” of a particular breed, relative to other breeds, for several reasons. First, a dog’s tendency to bite depends on at least 5 interacting factors: heredity, early experience, later socialization and training, health (medical and behavioral), and victim behavior. Second, there is no reliable way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed in the canine population at any given time (eg, 10 attacks by Doberman Pinschers relative to a total population of 10 dogs implies a different risk than 10 attacks by Labrador Retrievers relative to a population of 1,000 dogs).

Third, statistics may be skewed, because often they do not consider multiple incidents caused by a single animal. Fourth, breed is often identified by individuals who are not familiar with breed characteristics and who commonly identify dogs of mixed ancestry as if they were purebreds. Fifth, the popularity of breeds changes over time, making comparison of breed-specific bite rates unreliable. Breed-specific ordinances imply that there is an objective method of determining the breed of a particular dog, when in fact, there is not at this time. Owners of mixed-breed dogs or dogs that have not been registered with a national kennel club have no way of knowing whether their dog is one of the types identified and whether they are required to comply with a breed-specific ordinance. In addition, law enforcement personnel typically have no scientific means for determining a dog’s breed that can withstand the rigors of legal challenge, nor do they have a foolproof method for deciding whether owners are in compliance or in violation of laws. Such laws assume that all dogs of a certain breed are likely to bite, instead of acknowledging that most dogs are not a problem. These laws often fail to take normal dog behavior into account and may not assign appropriate responsibilities to owners.

It is my hope that prior to initiating any legislation that unfairly targets trained, obedient, and docile canine breeds and their responsible caretakers, you will consider the implications of such acts as well as any potential unfavorable ramifications. Please remember that everyone, with the exception of the truly apathetic and unlawful segment who participate in dangerous canine training and irresponsible ownership, desires safety for their families and communities. This type of proposal requires input and discussion from all participants and interested groups with legal representation as well.

I understand this has been a lengthy message, and I want to extend my appreciation for your consideration and attention.

With due respect,

NAME
ADDRESS

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