Breedism is a word coined by dog owners to define breed discrimination. Some people feel that breedism is to dogs what racism is to people. Victoria Stilwell on her “Positively” blog brought up the case of Lennox, a dog that was confiscated by the authorities in Belfast, Ireland simply because he looked like a “Pit Bull” type. (Lennox is a Labrador/Pit Bull mix). This breed has been classified as dangerous regardless of the dog’s temperament, behavioral history or owner’s actions.
In the United States, Denver, Colorado in Sec. 8-55 of the Municipal Code, rules that any dog owner who refuses to surrender their dog will face up to a year in jail and a $999 fine. According to the website DenverKillsDogs, this ordinance also bans shelters and humane societies from harboring pit bulls and even goes so far as to forbid any US resident from transporting a Pit Bull though Denver without a permit.
More than 1800 Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes have been euthanized (executed may be the more appropriate term) between 2005 and 2008. The shelters outside of Denver have become overburdened and overcrowded as a result of Denver’s breed ban.
Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan features well-behaved Pit Bulls on his television show that proves they are not all dangerous, nor are they predisposed to be dangerous. There are so many false media reports and stereotypes out there against the Pit Bull and so many are euthanized every day due to being born a Pit Bull. Where are the stories about the Pit Bulls slathering people with kisses?
Breed specific legislation doesn’t work. Politicians, to solve a problem created by irresponsible dog owners, created this legislation. Some feel that it is similar to the policies that Nazi Germany instigated during the 1930’s and 40’s. Counties, cities and entire countries around the world continue to turn to BSL policies in a desperate attempt to protect their public from the rising number of serious and sometimes-fatal dog bites. Instead, we need to educate the owners and make them responsible for their dogs. The breed itself is not responsible for being aggressive or mean. Dogs as weapons in gangs around London and other cities is becoming a real problem and a source of a significant part of the media-reported dog attacks.
According to Victoria Stilwell, one of the most commonly found attributes among aggressive dogs is not their breed, but rather a lack of confidence and insecurity. She points out that the typical schoolyard bully suffers from significant insecurity issues and this same concept can be applied to dogs.
In recent scientific studies, the family Dachshund was named the “most aggressive.”
A dog is what you make of it. Small dogs are much more likely to bite than large dogs. German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Great Danes and Saint Bernards have also been cited in fatal dog attacks yet they are not being singled out.
All training can be done in a positive and fun manner rather than exerting dominance over an already insecure dog. These dogs need be taught to be more self-confident. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that there is little scientific evidence to support the claims of the media that certain breeds of dog are more likely to bite. They offer valuable instruction on how to prevent dog bites without reference to their breed.
As dog behaviorists are getting their degrees and continuing their education, we now know so much more than we did even 20 years ago about how dogs think, what they feel, how their brains are wired and what could potentially cause them to aggress. Dogs look to us for guidance on how to act in our world, yet time after time, we are failing our dogs.
All dogs deserve a second chance. Shelter dogs are other people’s mistakes or rejects. Such mistakes have always included the non-socializing of these dogs during their formative months of puppyhood, which can be the worst mistake of all!
Tara Choules from Ireland has a dog training company that is anti-breed specific legislation. She feels that all dogs can learn and all dogs need a safe and secure environment. No choke chains, prong collars, electric collars or force is needed. Science shows us this and any breed, no matter how strong, can be trained using positive reinforcement and ethical humane training methods.
Tara is conducting a breed behavior study using a Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ) to gather behavioral data on breed-related aggression. Tara invites dog owners to participate in this study on her Facebook page of BreedBehaviourStudy. The restricted breeds in Ireland include American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Mastiff, Doberman Pinscher, English Bull Terrier, German Shepherd (Alsatian), Japanese Akita, Japanese Tosa, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Bandog as well as other strains and cross-breeds of these dogs.
We are all aware of racism but unless you have a breed that has been affected by this distrust, then you may not be aware of the effect breedism may have on your selected breed. Stay connected with legislators so that your breed may be protected from media sensation that creates Breed Specific Legislation. The National Canine Research Council is preserving the human-canine bond by documenting that breed bans do not protect the public!