The real victims of Breed Specific Legislation
Montreal, April 27, 2015 – Audrey Lortie and her two rescued pit-bull type dogs, Novah and Ivy, live in Bois-des-Filion, a small municipality North of Laval. Novah and Ivy are friendly, vivacious and love people and other animals. Audrey considers Novah and Ivy to be members of her family.
Bois-des-Filion, unfortunately, has Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) which prohibits dogs which the municipality, or their agents, deem to have the physical characteristics of ‘pit-bulls’. The Montreal SPCA became aware of Audrey, Novah and Ivy`s story after Audrey pleaded for support from the public on her facebook page after she was given notice by Bois-des-Filion’ animal control provider, the Berger Blanc, that she was in violation of the municipal BSL and that she had 15 days to move, or get rid of her dogs or she would be fined and her dogs seized.
The Montreal SPCA immediately contacted elected officials from Bois-des-Filion, providing them with information in relation to BSL, and asking them to consider repeal this by-law. With the support of the Montreal SPCA, Audrey also made representations at the municipal council meeting about BSL and her own personal situation with her beloved dogs Novah and Ivy. Unfortunately, the elected officials from Bois-des-Filion were unwilling to reconsider the by-law and instead gave Audrey, Novah, Ivy and the rest of their family until June 30th to move.The Montreal SPCA, along with veterinary orders (including the Quebec veterinary order and the Quebec veterinary association), behavior experts, and the rest of the animal welfare community agree that BSL is not the solution to reduce dog bites or keep citizens safe from dangerous dogs. “Research shows that by-laws such as these do not lower bite rates nor do they make our communities a safer place to live. They also fail to address the issue of dog aggression and bite safety in a comprehensive manner, which are directly related to the manner in which dog guardians care for their dogs” says Alanna Devine, jurist and Director of Animal Advocacy at the Montreal SPCA. “BSL also punishes responsible dog guardians because it is based on the false premise that even well behaved dogs from certain breeds (or with certain physical characteristics), such as Novah and Ivy are inherently ‘dangerous’” says Devine.
Audrey Lortie does not want to be forced to move, but she would never consider giving up Ivy or Novah. “Novah and Ivy are an integral part of my family! We currently are living in a home with a fenced back yard (which is great for them), and we could never afford a place like this somewhere else. If we are forced to move because of this by-law, we will have to find a small rental apartment that allows animals, and that could be difficult. I am devastated that the municipality is choosing to discriminate against me and my dogs simply because they happen to have big square heads”.
The Montreal SPCA is asking the public to help us encourage the municipality of Bois-des-Filion to repeal the BSL that is threatening to tear Audrey and her family apart, and to work with us in adopting progressive, effective breed neutral by-laws that identify and address individual dangerous dogs regardless of breed and that focus on responsible dog ownership.
Please contact Mayor Larocque and the Municipal counsellors of Bois-des-Filion, asking them to repeal the municipalities BSL and adopt an appropriate and effective solution to dangerous dogs that is not based on antiquated prejudice against certain dogs simply because of the way that they looks. Please send a polite e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Media contact: Anita Kapuscinska, Media Relations Coordinator, Montreal SPCA, 514-226-3932, or email@example.com.
About the Montreal SPCA Founded in Montreal in 1869, we were the first humane society in Canada and our mission is to:
- protect animals against negligence, abuse, and exploitation;
- represent their interests and ensure their well-being;
- raise public awareness and help develop compassion for all living beings.
For more information about the Montreal SPCA, please visit our website at www.spca.com.
Many Innocent Dogs And Owners Are Victims Of BSL
Numerous innocent dogs and owners have become victims due to the knee-jerk reactions of Governments, choosing to bring in Breed specific legislation instead of dealing with the real issue of problem owners. Many more innocent dogs and their owners are constantly under threat of becoming innocent victims.
If your dog is suspected to be an illegal breed by the authorities, it is not their responsibility to prove it is. It is up to you to prove it is NOT. This is often an impossible – and very expensive – task.
You can even end up with a Pit Bull by accident. If you cross something like a boxer and a labrador or a labrador and a mastiff, you end up with a dog that looks like a pit bull.
An example of just one of the many innocent dogs is Lennox, from Belfast in Ireland. This gentle dog was taken from his family and has been held for the last couple of years in a council death row pound. The family are not allowed to see him, or even know where he is held. They fight on in court to save his life, and the case has generated a lot of publicity. Loving Lennox served as a therapy pet for the family’s daughter, and she is especially badly affected by the situation.
Lennox has been sentenced to death by an Irish court.
At 7am this morning, Belfast City Council murdered Lennox, an innocent dog who had never done anything wrong.
The heartless council, who ripped this loving pet from the heart of his family’s home & kept him in lonely, isolated conditions for over 2 years, did not even let his devastated family say goodbye.
For anyone not familiar with Lennox’ case, Lennox, like many other innocent dogs that have been murdered by the authorities, is a victim of breed specific legislation (BSL), such as The Dangerous Dog Act (DDA). Brought in in 1991 by the Government, the Act banned certain dog breeds, implying these breeds had the tendency to be dangerous & attack.
Since then, dog attacks have tripled. This is because it was never certain dog breeds that were dangerous, it was, and is, certain types of owners who purposely train dogs to be aggressive. These owners are attracted to dogs they feel have look intimidating, (even though by nature they are extremely gentle).
The Government decided that, rather than trying to hold bad owners responsible and punishing them, it would be easier to murder the main dog breeds that the bad owners were attracted to and training to be aggressive. Despite many of them being gentle, loving family dogs, that have never done anything wrong, if they appear on the dangerous dogs list, they were murdered. This continues to happen every day.
The reason dog attacks have gone up in number is that many of these bad owners have moved from training banned breeds to be aggressive, to doing it with legal breeds instead.
Tragically, there are numerous, less well known, cases like this happening wherever breed specific legislation exists.
Courtesy of ….. Animal Rights
The Human Victims of Breed Specific Legislation
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.
About a week ago I received a voicemail from a thoroughly exhausted woman named Liz, asking me for help. I listened to her story with growing outrage at the situation they had all been placed into.
Liz’s granddaughter, 4-year old Aleeah, has cystic fibrosis, and Liz’s son, who had just gained full custody of his daughter, was forced to move in with Liz so as to facilitate Aleeah’s constant medical care. Part of Aleeah’s care includes wearing a compression vest for fifteen minute treatments, twice a day. The vest is designed to help break up the mucous that is constricting her breathing, and it shakes her, starting with moderate vibration and ending with violent shakes. Needless to say, it can be traumatic for the child, and they had difficulties getting her to sit calmly through the twice-daily ordeal.
That’s where this little guy came into play.
The thought was that a puppy might be able to keep Aleeah’s mind off of the treatments. And guess what? It worked. Aleeah was sitting still for the treatments, and Scrappy was right by her side, comforting her throughout the ordeal.
He hears the machine go on, and he’s right by her, ready to do his job. No, he wasn’t trained to do this. He’s not a service dog, nor even a therapy dog. He’s a dog who knows he has a job. Unfortunately, according to a few, he’s something else. A pit bull. At least that’s what the City of Lakewood believes. And since Aleeah and best friend moved into Lakewood, a city that still has outdated Breed Specific Legislation (“BSL”), this dynamic duo is about to be broken up.
Scrappy was forced to do a blood test to prove whether or not he actually is actually “pit bull”. According to the City of Lakewood’s 2008 legislation, a “pit bull” is:
“any Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog, any dog of mixed breed which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of such breeds, any dog commonly known as a pit bull, pit bull dog or pit bull terrier; or a combination of any of these breeds.”
Scrappy’s blood test is still pending. He has a hearing on February 23 pending the outcome of his blood test. If he proves to be “pit bull” by DNA, the hearing will go forward, most likely resulting in his being seized by the city.
Meanwhile, a little girl sits at her breathing machine, wondering if this will be the last time Scrappy will be there with her though it all.
I, personally, refuse to allow Scrappy to be taken away purely because of misguided and outdated legislation. Aleeah needs Scrappy, and Scrappy needs Aleeah. But even more so, we need to examine the nature of legislation such as this. With so many cities overturning their breed specific legislation and welcoming all dogs into their cities, why do we still have such antiquated legislation in effect in such an otherwise tolerant city as Lakewood, Ohio? Even Lakewood City Council is divided on the issue, which was decided eight years ago, with different members on the council at the time. Council President Sam O’Leary had this to say to reporter Bruce Geiselman in a recent Cleveland.com article:
“I don’t speak for all of council, but I have heard from other council members they would be open to revisiting the topic this year,” O’Leary said. “Personally, I don’t think this is a policy that has support in science, and I think there have been a number of reports, studies and other information provided from groups ranging from the American Bar Association to the ASPCA that show from a public policy and public safety standpoint there are more effective and comprehensive ways to address this issue than breed-specific language.”
Aleeah’s grandmother and I attended Lakewood City Council’s meeting this past week, along with many supporters, to plead with council to revisit the archaic legislation. Let’s hope that our words do not fall on deaf ears. We ask that you join with our voices, not only with regard to Aleeah and Scrappy, but also in support of those dogs who didn’t garner as much attention as Scrappy has. For those victims of BSL who never make it out of a shelters. Only 1 in 600 pit bulls will make it out of a shelter alive. Most are euthanized through no fault of their own. Be a voice for those families who are unable to keep their beloved pets because of misguided notions about who pit bulls really are. Be a voice for Aleeah and Scrappy.
I’ve already added my voice, and will continue to do so. Please consider adding yours.
Kerri Stacks speaks out on video…..As of publication, we are just shy of 40,000 signatures in support of Aleeah and Scrappy. Please click here to add your name and allow your voice to be heard. We are also asking that you directly contact City of Lakewood, Ohio – Municipal Government, either on their Facebook page or via snail mail:
Dog Training in Lakewood, Ohio
Will breed-specific legislation reduce dog bites?
James H. Bandow
A study by University of Washington researchers, which was recently published in PEDIATRICS, the publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that children are more often bitten by their own dogs or those belonging to neighbours than by stray animals. Of the attacks studied, 21 of the dogs belonged to a neighbour, 13 were from the children’s own household, and only three were strays.
Three of those attacks were fatal, and one-third of the victims required treatment in an intensive care unit. Children under the age of five faced the greatest risk of being bitten by a dog, and medium and large breeds, including German Shepherds, Shepherd mixes and Rottweilers were the breeds most frequently identified as the biting dogs.
I found similar facts in my own detailed study of dog bites in the City of Toronto. While the University of Washington Study only looked at a small number of children who had been bitten, I did not restrict my study only to children but reviewed all of the 628 animal bites (human victims) reported to the Toronto Department of Public Health in 1993.
Although the Toronto study confirmed that young children tend to be victims of more serious bites, they do not make up the majority of victims. There may have been other bites that were not reported by the victims, those were probably not serious enough for the victims to seek medical attention. My study looks at dog bites only. Of the 628 reported bites, 419 (67%) were caused by dogs, 159 (25%) were inflicted by cats, and 50 (8%) represented bites by other animals.
Age of bite victims: Since there tends to be a general concern about children being victims of animal bites, I divided bite victims into one adult group over 18 years of age and three groups representing victims under 18 years of age. I found that bite victims fell into the following age categories: Victims to 6 yrs. old: 8.6% (36) Victims 7 to 12 yrs. old: 15.0% (63) Victims 13 to 17 yrs. old: 7.6% (32) Victims 18 yrs. and older: 68.8% (288)
General Manager, Animal Control Services, Department of Public Health, City of Toronto, 19 River Street, Toronto, Ontario M5A 3P1. Reprinted with permission from The AASAO Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, Winter/Spring 1995/96 published by the Association of Animal Shelter Administrators of Ontario.
To see the full story follow the link….. NCBI
Veterinarians slam Breed Specific Legislation killing two innocent dogs in Australia
When Breed Specific dog laws were introduced in Australia last September, the Australian Veterinarian’s Association (AVA) was clearly opposed the legislation. Dr. Susan Maastricht of the AVA said. “Not only will it fail to prevent dog bites, innocent dogs can clearly end up being scapegoats because of the way they look.”
Sadly, two dogs did end up being scapecoats this week. After a lengthy legal battle with a local council in Victoria, Nathan Laffan and Samantha Graham lost their fight to save their two dogs. Despite the fact that neither of the dogs had done anything wrong, the two were put down because of the way they looked. The AVA slammed the ruling, stating the laws have led to two innocent dogs being killed.
When they learned about the introduction of the law, Laffan contacted Moira Shire Council to ensure his dogs, Bear and Kooda, would be safe. A council officer who went out to the couple’s home identified the dogs as pit bulls and had them seized and taken to a local pound.
According the the new law, councils are allowed to seize and destroy unregistered pit bull terriers and their crosses based on visual identification alone. The legislation provides guidelines for councils on how to identify pit bulls based on key markers including muscular build, head profile and size-to-weight ratio.
However, visual identification of pit bulls is especially subjective, as pit bulls are cross-bred in origin. Pups of one litter of pups can look completely different from one another and DNA tests can be inconclusive. “To some degree there is the potential for subjectivity,” said Dr. Maastricht.
Graham and Laffan challenged the council, saying their dogs were mistakenly identified as pit bulls. A local breeder stated the dogs came from a bull mastiff cross American bulldog and a staffie cross ridgeback. However, the council was not swayed.
The couple were given an hour’s notice and a just few minutes to say goodbye to Bear and Kooda.
They argued their dogs “wouldn’t hurt anyone”. “They were just the kindest and best dogs. They were always playful, we loved them so much,” Laffran said. “We would have trusted them around children more than most babysitters.”
Laffan is now calling for behavior tests to be used to assess a dog’s temperament, rather than simply appearance and breed targeting. “The laws are all messed up, they should never have brought them in,” Laffan said. “We were just trying to do the right thing and they [the council] just stabbed us in the back.”
Unfortunately for Laffan, Graham, Bear and Kooda, they became victims of Breed Specific Legislation that was introduced as a solution to reduce dog bites. The strict laws came into effect after the fatal mauling of Melbourne toddler Ayen Chol.
In similar circumstances, an innocent dog named Lennox has also been victimized by BSL in Northern Ireland. Read more about Lennox’s story and what you can do about BSL in your community here: Will the Lennox Tragedy impact breed specific legislation in your community?
Nathan Laffan and Samantha Graham saying their last “goodbye” to Kooda and Bear. Image via 9News.
Read more at http://www.dogheirs.com/dogheirs/posts/1377-veterinarians-slam-breed-specific-legislation-killing-two-innocent-dogs-in-australia#WrV8gRO05UhLwqod.99
For more on this story and many others please visit….. dogheirs
What The Experts Say!
Victoria Stilwell, president of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training and Behavior, and CEO of Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training
“Without exception, I stand firmly against BSL. The research has shown time and time again that BSL does not reduce dog bites in the areas where it is enacted, and has caused many innocent dogs to be taken from their families simply because of the way they look. Reducing dog bites starts instead by teaching the public to better understand their dog’s body and vocal language, promoting responsible guardianship and educating children, in particular, how to be safe around dogs.”
Jean Donaldson, founder and principal instructor of The Academy for Dog Trainers
“PPG’s position is to follow the evidence, which to date strongly suggests that BSL does not achieve the objective of decreasing dog bites or serious dog attacks. Instead, dog guardians should be held responsible for their pets’ conduct, regardless of breed, and dogs who have not offended should not be targeted.”
Janis Bradley, director of communications and publications, National Canine Research Council
“There is a growing awareness that BSL does not improve community safety and penalizes responsible dog owners and their family companions… If communities wish to implement effective dog bite prevention programs, recommendations continue to shift in favor of multifactorial approaches focusing on improved ownership and husbandry practices, better understanding of dog behavior, education of parents and children regarding safety around dogs, and consistent enforcement of dangerous dog/reckless owner ordinances in communities. Effective laws hold all dog owners responsible for the humane care, custody, and control of all dogs regardless of breed or type.”
Dr. Lynn Honeckman, veterinarian
“Any dog is capable of biting, regardless of breed, sex, or size… BSL has not been shown to effectively decrease the incidence of dog bites. Dog Bite Prevention should instead focus on an individual dog’s behavior, as well as educating people on the best ways to avoid bites from occurring. With BSL, the veterinary community is put into a challenging position of being asked to identify dog breeds based on appearance, and to report dogs who seem to fit a specified description. Most studies have shown that the visual identification of a breed rarely accurately identified the proper breed when compared to genetic testing.”
Louise Stapleton-Frappell, faculty member DogNostics Career College, and steering committee member The Pet Professional Guild and Doggone Safe
“Breed Specific Legislation causes untold suffering to countless dogs and their families around the world – dogs whose only ‘crime’ is that they are of a certain breed or type. These dogs are both judged and condemned – often to incarceration and ultimately death – because of their appearance; with no regard being taken of their positive behavioral history, character traits, socialization, training or home environment. Statistics clearly show that BSL does nothing to promote greater safety in the community. This costly, ineffective and discriminative legislation should be replaced with humane, effective legislation making all owners responsible for the appropriate care of their pets and accountable for their actions, whatever the breed.”
Niki Tudge, President of The Pet Professional Guild, The DogSmith, DogNostics Career College and Doggone Safe
“PPG’s role is to educate and engage more pet professionals and pet owners, promoting the science based, result based force-free message, philosophy and training practices. As founder and president of PPG, I believe that this same goal should be applied to all pets. Research shows us that all animals learn in the same way and that each animal is an individual regardless of its breed. Many of our professional members interact, either personally or professionally, with many, if not all, of the breeds affected by breed specific legislation and will bear witness to the fact that animal learning is not breed specific. Just as important, it is critical to the welfare of our pets and their owners that animals are trained using force-free, positive reinforcement philosophies to prevent and mitigate aggressive behaviors due to fall out from the application of using punishment and fear to modify and change.”
- “RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges all state, territorial, and local legislative bodies and governmental agencies to adopt comprehensive breed-neutral dangerous dog/reckless owner laws that ensure due process protections for owners, encourage responsible pet ownership and focus on the behavior of both dog owners and dogs, and to repeal any breed discriminatory or breed specific provisions.” (American Bar Association, 2012).
- “Although multiple communities have been studied where breed-specific legislation has been enacted, no convincing data indicates this strategy has succeeded anywhere to date (Klaassen et al., 1996; Ott et al., 2007; Rosado, 2007). Conversely, studies can be referenced that evidence clear, positive effects of carefully crafted, breed-neutral laws (Bradley, 2006). It is, therefore, the ASPCA’s position to oppose any state or local law to regulate or ban dogs based on breed. The ASPCA recognizes that dangerous dogs pose a community problem requiring serious attention. However, in light of the absence of scientific data indicating the efficacy of breed-specific laws, and the unfair and inhumane targeting of responsible pet guardians and their dogs that inevitably results when these laws are enacted, the ASPCA instead favors effective enforcement of a combination of breed-neutral laws that hold reckless dog guardians accountable for their dogs’ aggressive behavior.” (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2016).
- “Frequently breed-specific legislation focuses on dogs with a certain appearance or physical characteristics instead of an actual breed. “Pit bulls” are the most frequent victims of breed-specific legislation despite being a general type rather than a breed, but specific breeds are also sometimes banned including Rottweilers, Dobermans and boxers. Breed-specific laws can be tough to enforce, especially when a dog’s breed can’t easily be determined or it is of mixed breed. A recent study showed that even people very familiar with dog breeds cannot reliably determine the primary breed of a mutt, and dogs are often incorrectly classified as “pit bulls.” By generalizing the behaviors of dogs that look a certain way, innocent dogs suffer and may even be euthanized without evidence that they pose a threat. Responsible dog owners are forced to give up their dogs or move. Cities and states spend money enforcing restrictions and bans instead of putting that money to better use by establishing and strictly enforcing licensing and leash laws, and responding proactively to target owners of any dog that poses a risk to the community.” (American Veterinary Medical Association, 2016).
- “Experts have proven that Breed Specific Legislation does not make communities safer for people or pets. It is costly, ineffective, and undermines the human-canine bond. Regulating breeds puts the focus on the dog, without addressing owner behavior and the owner’s responsibility to the animal and the community. In an environment of breed discrimination, the breed identification of a dog can have serious consequences with municipal authorities, animal shelters, landlords, and insurers, all of which will compromise the bond between a family and their dog. There is no evidence to support breed specific legislation.” (Animal Farm Foundation, 2016).
- “The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) is concerned about the propensity of various communities’ reliance on breed-specific legislation as a tool to decrease the risk and incidence of dog bites to humans. The AVSAB’s position is that such legislation—often called breed-specific legislation (BSL)−is ineffective, and can lead to a false sense of community safety as well as welfare concerns for dogs identified (often incorrectly) as belonging to specific breeds.The importance of the reduction of dog bites is critical; however, the AVSAB’s view is that matching pet dogs to appropriate households, adequate early socialization and appropriate training, and owner and community education are most effective in preventing dog bites. Therefore, the AVSAB does support appropriate legislation regarding dangerous dogs, provided that it is education based and not breed specific.” (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, 2014).
- “Why should you fight breed discrimination in your community? Besides the fact that BDL wastes tax dollars and fails to protect people from dog bites, it can result in the deaths of thousands of wonderful family dogs who have never bothered anyone. If a breed ban is instituted in your community, law enforcement officials may be forced to take dogs away from their loving families and place them in already crowded animal shelters, where they will most likely be killed. Families can file lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the ordinances, but that can be expensive.” (Best Friends Animal Society, 2016).
- “Responsible ownership is key to preventing dog bites or strikes. We believe that dog behaviour results primarily from the rearing and training provided by the owner and only in part from inherited characteristics. In principle, we are opposed to any proposal or legislation that singles out particular breeds of dogs rather than targeting individual aggressive dogs. The problems caused by dangerous dogs will never be solved until dog owners appreciate that they are responsible for the actions of their animals – the “deed not breed” principle.” (British Veterinary Association, 2014).
- “Neither science nor statistics support policies that discriminate based on breed or physical appearance.” (The Humane Society of The United States, n.d.).
- “Any animal may exhibit aggressive behavior regardless of breed. Accurately identifying a specific animal’s lineage for prosecution purposes may be extremely difficult. Additionally, breed specific legislation may create an undue burden to owners who otherwise have demonstrated proper pet management and responsibility.” (National Animal Care and Control Association , 2013).
- “Mistaken beliefs about dog-specific characteristics have often diverted us from a consideration of critical factors pertinent to the discussion of community safety and dog ownership… Responsible pet ownership practices are the foundation: the community institution of basic standards for owner responsibility has been shown to dramatically decrease dog bite incidence. These standards include humane care (providing proper diet, veterinary care, socialization and training), humane custody (licensing and providing permanent ID), and humane control (following leash laws and not allowing pets to become threats or nuisances to the community).” (National Canine Research Council, 2013).
- “The RSPCA does not support breed specific legislation, also known as BSL. RSPCA Australia considers that any dog of any size, breed or mix of breeds may be dangerous and thus dogs should not be declared dangerous on the basis of breed or appearance. Each individual dog should be assessed based on their behaviour. The RSPCA does not believe that BSL is in any way effective in preventing or reducing dog attacks or in protecting the public from dangerous dogs. (RSPCA Australia, n.d.) There is widespread agreement that a dog’s individual tendency to bite depends on at least five interacting factors: heredity, early experience, socialisation and training, health, and the behaviour of the victim.” (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Australia, n.d.).
- “BSL results in punishing and ultimately driving away responsible owners of the targeted breed(s) while having little to no impact on the actual cause of problems, those using dogs for illegal or immoral purposes. Instead of enacting BSL, communities should be more aggressive in enforcement of dangerous dog, anti-fighting, and anti-cruelty statutes. More emphasis must be placed on owner responsibility, as the majority of attacks are due to owner neglect or mistreatment. Targeting the actions and non-action of owners will be more effective and sensible in realistically decreasing dog attacks.” (United Kennel Club, 2016).