why some states are fighting for “dangerous” breeds

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Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Sep 22 2014


Both of my parents are originally from South Dakota, where they were high school sweethearts in a tiny town bordering the Badlands. Because we have family there, we visited often when I was young, giving me an opportunity to see a part of the country I likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And let me tell you something—South Dakota is gorgeous. I loved my visits as a kid because, of course, I got to see my grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles, but I also loved it because we got to visit the Badlands, the Black Hills and the piéce de rèsistance, Wall Drug.

But something happened recently that made me love South Dakota even more—they took a stand against breed specific legislation! Breed specific legislations are laws that regulate (or ban completely) one specific breed of dog. Talk about unfair! These laws are meant to keep the public safe, but often they end up punishing innocent family pets and the humans who love them.

Pit Bulls bear the brunt of the ill will in breed specific legislation, but so many other breeds can also qualify for these seemingly random laws, including Chow Chows, American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Mixes containing these breeds are also susceptible, meaning that even if your dog just resembles one of these breeds, she could be included!

South Dakota was the 18th state to stand up to these kinds of laws, and they fall in line with professional organizations like the ASCPA and the American Veterinary Medical Association. Even the Centers for Disease Control doesn’t support breed specific legislation, and they’re in the business of protecting us! The CDC knows that dog bite data is inaccurate, and that factors as important as the breed of dog involved in a bite aren’t always reported correctly.

Moreover, breed specific legislation has not been proven to increase the safety of people in states where it is enacted, AND it’s expensive to enforce.

Rather than focus on banning and regulating specific breeds, some states have chosen to focus on tracking dangerous dogs as individuals. Just as one bad apple is said to ruin the whole bunch, we can’t let specific instances change the way we view an entire breed of animal!

There are things we CAN do to reduce human bite injuries and fatalities caused by dogs, though. Namely—be sure your dog is spayed or neutered. Unneutered males account for 70% of dog bites. Also, never chain or tether your dog. This creates frustration and fosters aggression. Chained dogs are almost three times as likely to bite.

Lastly (and I know this doesn’t apply to any Petplan policyholders), don’t be a reckless owner. Reckless owners who abuse or neglect their animals or allow unsupervised interactions with children are a large part of the problem, not the breed of dog.

Check with your local city or state laws to see if breed specific legislation applies or is on the docket for discussion. Maybe you can change the lives of some very special individuals by getting involved!