End BSL Nanaimo & district

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My name is Amanda and I am starting this petition to help change the current Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia and surrounding area. I am not simply advocating for the dogs that fall within the “bully breed” category, but all dogs. I will briefly discuss why BSL is unfair, costly and ineffective in preventing dog bites. My goal is to promote responsible ownership, and work on creating laws that protect everyone without targeting a specific breed of dog.

Why is BSL ineffective?

There are multiple reasons why BSL is ineffective. Firstly, ANY dog can bite no matter the breed or size. Throughout history, the media has captured different breeds of dogs and have labeled them “dangerous” or “aggressive”. First it was the German Sheppard, followed by the Rottweiler and now, the “Pit Bull”. There is no consistency but tends to be larger breed dogs that people tend to use as guard dogs.

Secondly, irresponsible ownership plays a large role in dog bites. According to the national canine research council, many factors such as whether the owner spayed, neutered, abused or neglected their dog. Other factors are if they were utilizing their dog for guarding, breeding played a significant factor in fatal dog attacks. We need to look at the individual owner and target those who treat their dogs poorly. Those owners need to be held responsible for maltreatment and neglect instead of discriminating against a specific breed.

Thirdly, it is costly to enforce. BSL laws tend to identify dogs as “Pit Bulls” by simply looking for physical characteristics that fit the few restricted breeds. Breed identification by simply visualizing a dog is more often than not inaccurate. Dr. Voth’s study performed in 2009 stated that visual identification of mixed breed dogs are accurate less than half of the time. “90% of shelter dogs visually identified as a particular breed are not identified accurately”. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spend every year by municipalities to enforce BSL and in court costs to prove a dog’s breed. It is now not enough to use an expert to identify a dog by visual examination. DNA testing and its costs are now being required to prove a dogs lineage, and dogs are being kept from their owners for prolonged periods of time in shelters, costing municipalities more tax payer money to be held in a shelter until proven to be a “Pit Bull”.

Facts about “Pit bulls”

Did you know the general term “Pit Bull” is not a specific breed of dog? It is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of breeds such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American bulldog, Staffordshire bull terrier, English Bull Terrier and so forth. There is no specific definition of a “Pit Bull” and conflicting agreement of which of these breeds fall into this term. In Nanaimo, the breeds that are considered “vicious/restricted” are “Pit Bull Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, or any mix breed dog whose breeding includes the bloodline of those breeds”. Often it is any dog that has a short coat, wide and muscular head is often labelled a “Pit Bull”. But many combinations of breeds can have a similar appearance and not have any bully breed bloodline in its make up.

The “Pit Bull” was an admired dog for many years. Remember Petey, from The Little Rascals? He was a “pit bull” type dog that people loved. They are amazing family dogs, and actually have been used as nanny dogs. Unfortunately, over the last ~40 years pit bull terrier type dogs became popular with irresponsible owners and had received biased media attention. Bully breed’s tend to be named in media reports over other breeds or misidentified by witnesses due to their appearance.

There are plenty of myths that have been created over the years to instill fear into the general public. One example is that the “pit bull” has a locking jaw. There is no proven physiologic difference between their jaws and any other dog. They don’t even get in the top 10 for dogs who have the strongest bite based on PSI. Another myth is that they tend to be more aggressive than other dogs. According to the American Temperament Test Society, “pit-bull-terrier-like dogs passed the test at a higher rate than many other dog breeds, such as golden retrievers and border collies”

Moving toward breed neutral laws

            As I have mentioned above, the treatment of dogs by their owners needs to be addressed to ensure safe communities. Reckless owners need to be addressed. Looking at the United States, since 2017, 21 states have changed their laws to deal with problematic pet owners instead of targeting a specific breed. Let’s look at the individuals that are neglectful or reckless towards their dogs that put EVERYONE at risk.

Calgary enacted a new aggressive-dog ordinance and since that point there has been “a 56% decrease in aggressive-dog incidents and a 21 percent decline in biting incidents in just two years”. This new law fines dog owners whose dogs bite another person or dog.  On Vancouver Island, Cowichan Valley District has also recently removed their BSL and changed it to “Animal Responsibility Bylaw”. This addresses specific dogs and owners by instilling higher licensing fees, having an owner get mandatory liability insurance and as well as spaying/neutering. All of these are positive changes to dealing with the real issues.

Looking at the statistics, it is show that certain factors play a role in “fatal” dog bites, as mentioned above. These include:

Owners did not spay/neuter (97%)
Owners that abused, neglected, failed to contain or improperly chained their dogs (84%)
Owners did not maintain their dogs as pets by using them as guard dogs, for breeding or yard dogs (78%)
We need to look at these factors directly. No matter what type of dog. Some laws that have been changed to prohibit people from owning dogs/animals after being sited a specific number of violations. This is what and where we need to focus our energy on enforcing - keeping all animals safe and protected from those who abuse them to ensure public safety.

Dogs of any size or breed need love, consistency, training, and socialized to be a positive member of the community.

I know there is going to be lots of resistance to changing BSL. But with your help we can work together to create safer communities and target the true issue of responsible ownership.

Thank-you for your support