Lennox was put down this morning. In case you don’t know, Lennox was taken away from his family in Ireland, declared dangerous, kept in jail for two years, and then killed. Why? Because he LOOKED like he might be a pit bull.
Animal behavior experts declared him a safe pet. Animal welfare experts offered to send him to the USA and place him in a safe home. The Belfast City Council killed him anyway. Animal welfare people all over the United States are outraged by this travesty. And they should be. But here’s the thing.
It could have happened here just as easily.
All over the United States, there is a quiet little war being waged. Insurance companies refuse to insure people who have certain breeds of dogs. Landlords refuse to rent to people who have certain dogs. Some shelters even automatically euthanize certain breeds, because their city councils or county commissioners or insurance companies won’t allow them to adopt out these animals.
The mainstream media doesn’t help. Every time a dog does anything remotely aggressive, the first question is always “what kind of dog was it?” If it was a pit or a Rottweiler, it’s suddenly headline news.
Communities, towns, counties, even entire states are passing or attempting to pass Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Such laws make it illegal to own certain types of dog within the designated area. This is the worst kind of blind prejudice. It can – overnight – become illegal to own a pit bull, or a Rottweiler, or a Doberman. If you have one, you have to move or get rid of your dog. Or they will take your dog away and kill him.
I know. Not everyone loves these big strong dogs with a reputation (however undeserved it might be) for being potentially aggressive. I don’t suggest that everyone has to love them. I will say, however, that statistics show that pit bulls pass behavior testing at a much higher rate than quite a few breeds commonly thought of as excellent pets. I will also point out that statistics on aggressive dogs are very, very skewed by the fact that the general public tends to assume that any square headed, muscular, short haired dog is a pit bull, and the officers taking a report of dog aggression have to write down what the witnesses or victims report.
Some of you are probably saying right now, “Well, I have a poodle. It’s not my problem.”
Oh yes it is.
Aside from the inherent WRONGNESS of making it illegal to have a particular type of dog because it MIGHT some day bite someone, because another dog of the same breed once bit someone…this is a very slippery slope. If we allow pit bulls to be legislated out of existence, then what’s next? Chows, Dogo Argentinos, Rottweilers, Dobermans? How about mastiffs? After all, they’re big, so they must be dangerous. How about Chihuahuas? They pass the temperament test at a much lower rate than pits do. Once the door is opened, it will be much harder to close.
Breed Specific Legislation is currently illegal in Texas. Even so, many shelters still won’t adopt out certain breeds; breed specific POLICIES are not illegal. BSL (and such associated policies) should be illegal everywhere. Every dog deserves a chance to live a happy life without the fear of being seized and killed because it resembles a dog that once did something bad. Pits, for example, also make great service or therapy dogs. Yet the media never focuses on all the good things associated with the breed; they egg on the hysteria of people who fear the breed without understanding it.
Make no mistake. BSL is WRONG. No government has the right to declare that an animal does not have the right to live simply because of its appearance. Dogs are individuals, and should be evaluated as such. Period.
And if we allow any government to condemn one breed, your dog’s breed may be the next one they target.
In honor of Lennox and all the other dogs who died because of human ignorance and fear, stand up against Breed Specific Legislation. Don’t let it happen to anyone’s else dog. Not anywhere, not ever.