Why BSL Doesn’t Work

I am a mother. I am also a dog owner and dog trainer who has committed my life to helping people find the most effective, humane and responsible way to live in harmony with their dogs while also affording them the respect they deserve. Over thousands of years, these beautiful creatures have gradually been domesticated by humans, so it is therefore incumbent upon us as the higher species to give them the tools they need to live successfully in our strange, human environment. Too often, however, we fall short and fail to understand the intricate yet ultimately simple dynamic that exists between man and dog, transposing our human insecurities and weaknesses onto dogs and assuming that they’re capable of being treated like and judged as four-legged humans.

Lennox was confiscated by the Belfast authorities because of how he looked.

This fundamental disconnect has recently been exposed publicly once again by the recent firestorm surrounding the case of Lennox, a Bull Dog/Labrador cross owned by an extraordinarily responsible family in Belfast, Ireland. 10 months ago, Lennox was confiscated by the authorities in Belfast simply because his bodily dimensions fall into a breed category the government calls a ‘Pit Bull Type’.  Pit Bull Type dogs are one group among several breeds which have been banned in Northern Ireland by Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). The general concept underpinning BSL is that the most effective way to determine whether or not a certain dog could potentially pose a threat to humans is by classifying and generalizing entire breeds of dogs as ‘dangerous’, regardless of the individual dog’s temperament, behavioral history or owner’s actions.

It continues to confound me that there are still proponents of BSL given both the behavioral science which is now available and the abysmal track record of municipalities that have attempted to curb dog attacks by instituting BSL. We know so much more than we did even 20 years ago about how dogs think, what they feel, how their brains are wired (very similarly to ours, as it turns out), and what could potentially cause them to aggress. Ironically, one of the most commonly found attributes among aggressive dogs is not their breed, but rather a lack of confidence and insecurity. Think of the typical schoolyard bully – is he generally a self-confident kid or one who actually suffers from significant insecurity issues? The same general concept can be applied to dogs.

Regardless, 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. I share this desire to reduce the number of dog attacks. As a doting mother of a beautiful 7 year old girl, my heart literally breaks every time I hear about another child who has been mauled by the family dog, which is why I have set up a Dog Bite Prevention Task Force to help educate the public about responsible dog handling and safety. The vast majority of fatal dog attacks share one glaring yet often-overlooked characteristic: usually at least one component of the scene is not in its usual environment. Either the dog is staying with the uncle, the grandparents are babysitting for the child, or someone outside their normal circumstance is placed as the primary guardian. The key to avoiding these tragedies is not to make owning certain breeds illegal, but rather to ensure that everyone in charge of dogs and/or children is educated about safe practices and never leaves any dog alone with any child.

Pit bulls can make great family pets in the hands of a responsible owner

Simply put, any breed of dog can bite, and any breed of dog can make a perfect family pet. Yes, the bigger and stronger the dog, the more damage it is capable of inflicting, although I have seen horrific footage of bite wounds from small dogs such as Jack Russell Terriers and Chihuahuas as well. Which breed of dog was named ‘most aggressive’ in recent scientific studies?  The family Dachshund. Does that mean we should add Dachshunds to the list of ‘Dangerous Dogs’ as defined by lawmakers in favor of BSL? Of course not. Years ago it was German Shepherds in the bullseye. Then Rottweilers. Now Pit Bulls. I’ve trained countless Pit Bulls, and have found them to be among the most loyal, smart and trainable dogs I’ve worked with. That said, it is indeed possible to turn them into deadly weapons if they’re in the wrong hands, just as it is with any breed of dog. Every dog is different, and those differences are not due to the breed of the dog, but rather to the individual dog’s breeding and the environment in which it was raised. Using aggression, intimidation and forced submission on a fearful, unconfident dog is like treating fire with fire, as the dog’s issues are often merely suppressed rather than treated and resolved effectively. In the majority of cases, dogs like Lennox that are confiscated due to BSL are inhumanely warehoused and dealt with using this confrontational approach, which often creates the very problems the law was attempting to avoid.  Having not had a chance to evaluate Lennox for myself since he’s been incarcerated, I can only hope that his tortuous past few months have not made him another victim of this vicious cycle.

Victoria has worked with countless pit bulls and considers them fantastic pets in the right hands.

So if we’re not going to ban certain breeds, what’s the solution? As a society we must focus on the other end of the leash. First, we must make a concerted effort to crack down on and eliminate ‘backyard’ breeders and puppy farmers who churn out puppies with no regard for the well-being of the dogs and are only interested in making money. But the most effective way to reduce the number of dangerous dogs is to stop irresponsible owners from raising their dogs to be aggressive, intimidating potential weapons.

It infuriates me to see the number of ‘macho’ men who want to get a big, strong, intimidating-looking dog in order to stroke their own egos and replace whatever ‘manliness’ may be missing from their own anatomy. Bully breeds in particular have borne the brunt of this phenomenon lately, where just because of the way the dog looks, he’s classed as a dog not to be messed with around the neighborhood. The same concept is at play (though usually with less ominous results) when a trendy soccer mom wants to get the latest designer crossbreed because it is the ‘in’ thing to do. I’m always frustrated when I hear people say they want to get a certain type of dog ‘for protection’, not realizing that actual protection dogs are incredibly rare, while their family pet-turned-guardian is actually nothing more than a ticking timebomb waiting to go off once their child brings a friend over for a playdate. If you feel like you need protection, invest in an alarm system instead of a dog.

If we could somehow prosecute those who willingly encourage their dogs to be aggressive, I firmly believe the number of tragic accidents would decrease significantly. But even if that’s not possible in the short term, or even if one chooses to ignore the facts that science has presented to us about animal breeds and behavior, there’s one more simple but powerful argument against BSL: it doesn’t work.

Statistics have shown that throughout the world, wherever BSL has been initiated, the number of dog bites has actually increased since the legislation has passed. This is the case in Scotland, England, parts of Canada, certain cities in the US, the Netherlands and beyond. In every single case, dog bites have become more of a problem since governments began banning breeds. What more evidence do we need as a society to realize that BSL is ultimately ineffective, if not also unfair?

So as Lennox passes his seventh birthday in isolation in his Belfast jail cell, I urge you to contact your local government and speak out against BSL while calling instead for greater responsibility by owners. Let’s give the animals we’ve domesticated the best possible chance to succeed in our world – it’s the right thing to do not just for the dogs, but for our safety as well.

Official 'Save Lennox' Website


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82 thoughts on “Why BSL Doesn’t Work

  1. Sloane Quealy-Miner

    Thank you for everything you do for animals and for speaking out against breed specific legislation. Breedism is the canine equivalent to racism and it is this type of mentality that is responsible for the deaths of so many loving, gentle and well adjusted animals. Everytime BSL is passed innocent dogs suffer and die in shelters because not only does it give false verification to the public that pit bull type dogs are vicious but it effects the ability of people in the communities to adopt these animals as well as rescues/ shelters to adopt out these animals.

    We who understand that the deed should be punished and not the breed have a lot of work to do. It is imperative that we fight breed specific legislation, breed specific insurance policies that keep homeowners and renters from being able to adopt certain breeds of dogs and fight for the lives of the countless innocent victims like Lennox.

  2. Susan Jackson

    Victoria, first off I want to say I love you for saying everything you said with regard to breed specific legislation. I have two American Pitbull Terriers and one American Pitbull/American Bulldog mix, two girls and one boy respectfully named Brandon, Luna, and Mocha. I have two cats as well, Rebel and Tara, I have to mention them too! I love my dogs and it would absolutely break my heart to pieces if BSL comes my way here in the United States. My dogs are not perfect, they jump on people in greeting, and Brandon, while he does not "bite" persea, he mouths and this does have a tendency to frighten some people! Because of my dogs little quirks, they are never left alone with anyone they aren't accustomed to on a regular basis, never alone with children, and never off leash/lead. I know my dogs are friendly and they LOVE people and children, but because they are dogs and NOT human, I never take inappropriate chances with them. I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for bringing a voice to BSL, so many are now suffering because of it! What can I do to help Lennox from the states?
    Sincerely,

    Susan Jackson

  3. Michael haslam

    It seems that the councils and police are engaging on a systematic cull of all bully breeds before these laws are voted out of existence. Only the apologists for BSL would agree that this law is effective. By targetting the innocent instead of focusing on the real problem that Victoria expertly highlighted they are wasting millions of pounds kenneling for months and then killing innocent family pets. The recent suggestion by the Deputy Mayor of London that they should kill the puppies is outrageous. The Lennox Case has highlighted this scandal but the right wing press who's hysteria created this despicable law will not question BLS because of their part in it's creation.

  4. Tara Choules

    As a dog training company we are proud so say that we have no breed restrictions and we are anti BSL. 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.

    Breed specific legislation does not work. Right now I am conducting a breed behaviour study using C-BARQ to gather behacioural data on breed related aggression. So far the stats speak for themselves and my hypothesis that breed does not affect behaviour (aggression) looks like it will be accepted. If anyone wants to help me please go to http://www.facebook.com/breedbehaviourstudy and take the survey for your dog. All breeds welcome (end of plug)!!!

    As for Lennox he is truly innocent and the humans again should all be ashamed. Lets hope the family either get Lennox back and failing that, the authorities and/or family can send him to live at EGAR sanctuary in Southern Ireland. There are no breed bans in southern Ireland.

    Prayers with him and his friends, family and supporters, if this dog is put to death it will affect so many people especially that little girl who must miss her dog. What are we teaching her? Children after all are the future.

    Thanks Victoria for speaking out.

  5. Sophie

    Well said Victoria, poor Lennox and his family I am going to sign the petition and write to my local council and MP about BSL! My dog is a staffie type cross, what if they decide staffies are next?! This issue affects all pet owners, not just those with pit bull types and we should take a stand now if we want things to change for the better.

  6. Marie

    Great article Victoria! The Netherlands doesn't have BSL now. They got rid of it because it didn't work. I hope other countries will follow. And I hope Lennox gets reunited with his family soon 🙁 My heart breaks for him and his family.

  7. Debra Scherer

    All of this is just beyond ridiculous. Should we kill off bad kids next? Having been raised around dogs from all sorts of breeds; it is the owners that should be more harshly punished, not the animal. I have trained a number of dogs, including Pit Bulls, to be protective, and yet be a lap dog. If dogs are trained to respect their owner, they will abide by what ever they taught. To go after a dog simply because he looks like a certain breed in just cruel. However; using their theory, should we go around the country and incarcerate anyone that happens to look like they are Mexican, or are from Iraq. Animals are a precious gift. How dare they, based on looks, take this stand!!!!

  8. AmyM

    Excellent article! Oh how I wish Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party would read this and heed the advice. I'll tweet it to them, but I'm sure it will be ignored.

  9. Sue Scherdel

    I am totally against Breed-Specific Legislation. I believe that we need to educate the owners and make them responsible for their dogs. They need to train their dogs and make their environment pleasant. I do not believe that the breed itself is responsible for making them agressive or mean.
    I have owned a pit bull (who was a stray), and she was the sweetest thing you could imagine. We used to say that she would lick you to death because she loved to kiss so much. In the summer, when the kids would walk up and down the block, they would always stop to pet her and would giggle with delight, rolling in the grass and playing. 'Lula' was in heaven!
    I now own a miniature American Eskimo dog. I have read in several different sources that they "do not bite"'. She never, ever bit anyone, she would just give a low growl if she was upset. Then, one day, as she was sitting on the bed, my daughter leaned over her and she snapped at her. Moral of the story : never say never. I have always told my daughter to be careful, she is still a dog, you don't know what she is thinking or how she is feeling that day.
    My heart goes out to 'Lennox'. He is being discriminated on because of the way he looks (which is, incidentally, the same way my Lula looked). God bless you Lennox.....

  10. AmyM

    One more thing. I have an interest in World War II history and own a book called The Holocaust Chronicles. I was reading it the other night and came across a picture of a Nazi using a measuring tape to measure the length of a man's nose to determine if the man was of Jewish heritage. It made me think of Lennox's trial by tape measure which shares the same flawed "science" and intent, inaccuracy and lack of fairness.

  11. Camp K9

    Victoria,
    Lovely post, with the case both passionately and reasonably put.

    It would be wonderful for a simple solution. BSL clearly doesn't work, it seems to be widely perceived as such in the UK, but noone is in a hurry to change it because as a previous poster highlighted the media it had politicians create it in response to the hysteria it generated from specific cases.

    I'd take one point you made though on 'macho men filling a gap in their manliness' as while there are undoubtedly some like that it is not always the case. 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.

    Outside of that i'd like to see children in school educated about dogs. As a professional dog walking company we are constantly having to accommodate people when we are out and about who are afraid of dogs large or small, dog owners who are afraid when they come across multiple dogs and the list goes on. We are seeing in the UK the ongoing introduction of Dog Control Orders by local Councils which punish or inhibit everyone, and their enjoyment of dogs, to solve the problems caused by the few.

    You've cited a number of situations where tragedies have come about but we often see situations where children or people like the look of a dog we have and just walk up to it and pat it on the head and have no thought at all that dogs have their own ways of being introduced.

    So we hope Lennox is eventually saved but we also hope that the massive media attention this case has gathered can also be turned into something positive so that more people can benefit from just knowing more about dogs - whether they have them or not.

  12. Danny

    Politicians enact this crap and it's not done in a vacuum. Where were all of you when this crap was voted on? Too busy reading the paper, having the oil changed or just figured "it's not my breed so what do I care"
    All in the name of public safety at least that's what the politicians would have you beleave. It's more about money, power and votes. You vote these clowns in vote them out....See http://www.denverkillsdogs.com/

  13. Michelle

    As a responsible Pit Bull owner - THANK YOU!! It is a constant struggle to educate people about these amazing dogs. Even our own family and friends questioned us about how we could get "that kind of dog" when we have 2 children. The fact that I had done months of research on a variety of breeds and training methods didn't seem to matter. Neither does the fact that we have one of the sweetest, most loving, and friendly dogs that some have ever seen - they simply say, "wait till she 'snaps!'" I feel like I beat my head against the wall daily about this, but I won't give up, these dogs are just too wonderful!!

  14. Melissa

    Thank you so much for speaking out against this, Victoria! I have always owned dogs categorized as Pitt Bulls and they are by far my favorite breed! When raised right I find them to be the sweetest, most loyal, and funniest dogs, an asset to every family! I don't know how I would function if BSL ever hit my area, Pit Bulls are a huge part of my life.

    It infuriates me that the only news I hear about dog attacks is of dog attacks by Pit Bulls. I am well aware there are more dog attacks per year in my area than are mentioned in the news and Pit Bulls are specifically targeted by the media, fueling the negative image. People must speak out against breed discrimination.

  15. Karina

    Excellent blog entry, very informative and some was news to me. Love reading your blog and am fully appreciative of the kind of training you stand for. A lot of your tips from the TV series have helped me with my rescue dogs, who are not easy by any person's standard. So a big whole hearted thank you for all the work you do. Kind regards, karina

  16. Cindy

    After all that Lennox has been through, will he be able to fall back into a loving home, being 'normal' again? Will you or another trainer be there to help him gain confidence and freely love his family? Or will he be returned afraid and insecure to a family with high levels of emotions. Won't they cause him fear? I want Lennox returned, I had no knowledge of the BSL. But I don't want them to win and use him as a "see what did I say" if he attacks his family or someone, because no one was there to help him readjust. Has any behaviorist made plans to help him?
    I've told everyone I know about the BSL and the horrors Lennox is living. They're all outraged, most of them have happy family pit bulls. I was even shown a video of a neighbors chihuahua beating up an intact male pit bull. The dog wasn't aggressive, he was friendly.

  17. Megan

    Victoria
    Well said, indeed! After you worked with me and my border terriers, I realized that it's all about us humans. You explanation that dogs look to us for guidance on how to act in our world is so true. It's so sad that time after time, we are failing our dogs. I cannot even begin to imagine what Lennox's family is going through, not to mention what this poor dog is going through. I love that you have a program for teaching children the proper way to act around pets because maybe we can be successful by our dogs if we start by educating young people.

    I so appreciate your passion for dogs and this particular issue.

    Keep up the good work!
    Megan

  18. Hertzi shwartz

    Great article Victoria. Love the work you do with and for the dogs.
    BSL was created in order to supposedly solve a problem. The problem with this problem is that it was never about pit bulls but people that have pit bulls and can't seem to take responsibility, second thing people forget to remember, not just pit bulls bite, but why confuse law makers with the facts...As human beings we are educated, which is a good thing, that we do not judge people by the way they look, gender, color, race...we just accept and respect people because we want to be deserved to be called human beings capable of making the right choices and to love and feel compassion towards others. Why not apply it to all we do and all we care about. Dogs are our best friends and we should be responsible having them as our family members. Knowing what you have is a great idea, breed wise, what the characteristics of the breed, how to educate the dog so they'll be more comfortable in their surroundings...
    BSL stands against all what is common sense. History taught us that generalization of people, created hatred that turned to violence and horrible crimes were committed because we separated between human beings.
    We all equal with our possibilities to express ourselves and live the way we choose, our dogs shouldn't be judged by the way we take care of them. When people use Pit bulls in dog fights they create bad reputation for the breed, the greed kills the breed, because it's all entertainment for some evil people.
    My friends have pit bulls and they are so sweet, but then why do I need to say that? the defense mechanism kicks in, all dogs are sweet, but this only breed received unjustified reputation. Shame on ignorant people.

  19. Anne Zoutsos

    Well what a refreshing change to read some common sense. I really can't add more to what you've written and just hope that the powers that be might come to their senses and abolish breed specific laws. Meanwhile one can only pray that Lennox, whose crime it seems was to be born, is soon released and allowed to return to his loving family.

  20. RDR

    Thanks for a well written and informative article Victoria.

    Though I've owned dogs for over 40 years without incidence, I too am appalled by the introduction of BSL which is similar to the policies that Nazi Germany instigated during 1930's and 40's.

    All dogs deserve a second chance which is why since 1984, my dogs have al been other people's mistakes/rejects. Such mistakes have always included the non-socialising of these dogs during their formative months of puppyhood which I consider to be the worse mistake of all!

    It's all very well and good to be told that all puppies should be socialised with as many dogs as possible, but I always say that pups should also be socialised with as many children as possible and vice versa, provided it's done under supervision. Remember that not ALL children can be trusted around animals either.

    However, it breaks my heart when out walking my two dogs and I hear parents telling their children not to approach my dogs or they will be bitten. Though that's an understandable reaction, do they not realise that fear breeds fear.

    If only these parents stopped and ask me if it's OK for their child to stroke my dogs. I always say yes!

    My dogs have been stroked by children so young that they are only just learning to walk and talk but naturally showing no fear whatsoever, to young teens who have struggled and overcame their animal phobia. But this is always done under my supervision.

    Regards,

    RDR

  21. Margaret Eckert

    BSL is fed by ignorance. Thank you for bringing this to light. As a trainer, I absolutely love bullie breeds and rotties. They just get a bad name because of a few people who like a dog that looks and acts tough. We need to educate people that a dog is what you make of it. Any breed can be made mean by the actions of their owners. Small dogs are much more likely to bite than large dogs. Each dog is an individual and it is up to their owners to make the most of them and socialize them to people and other dogs. All training can be done in a positive and fun manner.

  22. Lou

    Having owned, and been in regular contact with, breeds such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, Jack Russels, Chihuahuas, Bull Terriers, and countless other breeds, I have found that the only problem dogs have been those who were not socialised. In all honesty, I would not leave my 3 legged JRTx alone with a PitBull or, for that matter any large breed dog, but if I were present and able to view the situation I would feel no less comfortable than if he were with a Corgi or a Beagle. My little guy's mates in the park are a pug, a Doberman and a Belgian Shepherd. Water finds its own level....

  23. Caroline Potter

    Victoria!

    Thank you for championing Lennox. Please continue your efforts. Can't you contact someone to see if you can visit him or improve his conditions? This boy must be brought home.

    Thanks for your continued hard work!

  24. Sarah's Pet Corner B&B

    Very well said! I preach this on a daily basis to my pet parents and try to educate them. It is an ongoing job but worth it. Thank you for standing up to this problem, as your voice will be heard the loudest. I take a few pits and pit mixes - along with other noted 'aggressive" breeds - for in home boarding and they are by far on of the most submissive and loyal breeds i have had the pleasure to work with. I sit here and look at Molly sleeping on the sofa and just cry while thinking one day she may be taken if this injustice spreads like it has the potential to do. It must be stopped, the fight is worth it!

  25. Pingback: Nice article that I was sent - Pitbulls : Go Pitbull Dog Forums

  26. alix

    Couldn't you go as an independent dog trainer with the experience that is needed to give your own report on Lennox, I am sure it would help his cause. He needs all the help he can get bless him.

  27. Camp K9

    @Danny
    If only it were to work that way.

    This article pertains to UK legislation - notably the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) which came about in response to media hysteria.

    In our case it is more likely that because there isn't much money or power associated with the issue that the Bill was put into law and then left despite the best advice and pressure from more 'expert' groups ever since. Since this was at a national rather than a regional level the single issue is likely to fall under the weight of the bigger picture for most voters.

    So, twenty years on, we now have a motion to bring in a Bill to repeal this Act. It will have a second reading in June but will still take some time after that to be enacted - if it gets that far. There is also a separate Dog Control Bill going through Parliamentary processes which aims to make individual owners responsible for their dogs.

    While on the face of it that sounds sensible it has the potential to become quite draconian and, for example, reduce significantly the number of places a dog can be off-lead (we don't have a culture of dog parks here as dogs are still quite free to be off-lead). With the UK now being in its 'age of austerity' there won't be any real resources to support enforcement while in the old days that would mean widespread non-compliance, these days it means the authorities enlist the help of Joe Public in a Big Brother style, creating potential for anti dog citizens to report dog owners for anything and everything. Thing is, non-dog owners tend to not understand what a dog is doing so don't know if it is friendly or not, playing or not etc.

    None of this will help Lennox though but hopefully something will come through the pipeline in the next year or two and BSL in the UK will be dead. I still somehow can't see currently 'banned' breeds being allowed again and I'd have concerns about what disadvantages the replacement legislation has.

    A previous post of Victoria's mentioned how the number of pet dogs in the UK outnumbers cats. Well there's 9m-10m dogs that do poop, can be unfriendly, can scare people etc. etc. so any legislation is likely to reign in the problems generated by the minority by penalising everyone.

  28. Jenni

    I really appreiciate you writing this article! We have a very loving American Pit Bull named Diamond. She is the love of our life and has proven to be such a smart girl! She has eagerly learned every single thing that we have ever taught her 🙂 When we moved into our neighborhood it was hard to see the neighbors reactions when we were out walking her. They would cross the street to get as far from her as possible. Bottom line is that we need to get the word out and this is a great way!

  29. mary

    Exactly, I have a half pit. She is the sweetest girl and was raised sweetly. She has NEVER tried to even snap at anyone if anything she will greet anyone at the door expecting to be petted.....not even vicious. She barks warnings but when it comes down to it, she is actually a scaredy cat. It is all about what the owner does and how they interact and train or not train their pet. My baby girl accepts other animals after a period of time with proper supervision; she is territorial with other animals NOT humans....she loves all humans. The only reason she would bite a human is a response if someone hurt her she would snap them I think or if someone would threaten her in some form or repeatedly aggitate her to work her up to an aggressive state. She was babied and disciplined.

  30. Patricia

    I owned a pitbull who was the gentlest dog with my grandkids .Its not the breed but the owner who teaches the dog .Lennox should be home with his owner Thank you for trying to bring him home .

  31. Tracey

    Thanks for speaking out Victoria!! I volunteer with a Pit Bull rescue group and am a Pit Bull owner. I appreciate you making a stand to help educate the public. 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. The story of Lennox breaks my heart and thank you for taking up his cause. I pray that your intervention will help stop this poor soul from an unjust death.

  32. Kay

    Victoria, if our media would write responsibly about dog attacks, we might not need BSL. When I hear a pit bull attack story, it's: bite, kill, child, maul, panic, panic, panic. At the end we get the truth: owner says dog got loose "by accident", didn't know dog was capable of this, away for just a second, thought dog was chained in backyard, basement, garage, etc. The stories always downplay the owner's stupid actions: i.e. walking an insecure dog unleashed, unmuzzled and intact through a busy shopping area where buses zoom by, horns honk, people pop in and out of stores. I want to bite then, too.) In short, the owners' irresponsibility is hidden or forgotten until the end, when most people have long since turned to the comics.

    PS, I recently had an encounter walking a pit bull with a co-volunteer at the local animal shelter. I fell. The dog rushed over and slathered me with so many kisses I almost couldn't catch my breath (plus she made me laugh). Where are the stories about that?

  33. Donna

    If this legislation doesn't prove that looks really count, I don't know what will. We grow up believing it's what's inside that counts, you can't judge a book by its cover. But growing older you discover looks do matter. (The TV show "What Not to Wear" proves this weekly.) Perhaps people don't consider Dachshunds aggressive because they are so cute. They have that sleek muzzle, floppy ears, ship bow chests, comic body. Something that low to the ground couldn't possibly hurt a thing!

    Pitt Bulls on the other hand are scary with that snapping turtle head, stubby, bar bouncer body, pricked ears, and menacing looks. Easy for the uneducated to classify this dog as a thug. Ironic because pitties are the cutest puppies I have ever seen. In fact, they look like the advertising ideal of the all-American puppy.

    What's sad about Lennox is that he is a lab mix, one of the friendliest, ready to please dogs on the planet. Does the lab mix side not count at all in this case? Shame to think that if Lennox looked more like a lab he might still be home.

    PS, I have volunteered at an animal shelter for the past month. There are many pitties for adoption. But the only animal to growl at me has been a rabbit.

  34. Amelia Johnson

    Victoria,

    On a recent visit to our local animal shelter, I saw that most of the dogs there were Pit Bulls or Pit bull mixes. This county-owned shelter is doing its best not to euthanize any animals. Many here in the United States are unaware that insurance companies still discriminate against certain breeds of dogs. It is unfortunate too that these companies intimidate owners whose dogs... of any breed... have nipped in self defense to either get rid of the dog or find another insurance company. Responsible dog owners should be united on this topic and speak up when our lives with our dogs is jeopardized by ignorance and breed legislation.

  35. Barb-ILuvMyPit

    Victoria - you amaze me. I couldn't agree with you more and try to educate those I can. I wrote to every ; legislator I could about Lennox and I hate BSL. Thank God I leave in a city that disagrees with it as well. I couldn't bear the thought of losing my pitbull because of her looks...thanks for reaching out to the public.

  36. Fran C.

    Excellent excellent article. Good on you. It never fails to amze me how ignorant people and especially politicans can be. They do not do their homework nor due dilligence. When I hear a politican spew BSL I know I am dealing with someone who at their very cre of their heart, is a bigot and would discriminate and profile in other areas as well.

  37. Arthur Killings

    BSL is a useless law because it's unfair the to the breeds that are targeted by this law. I love pitbulls because they are cool. I hate BSL thank you. Victoria you rock. I wish you was in South Holland, IL in the USA. VictorIa YOU ROCK !!!!!!!

  38. Shannon Kenealy

    Thanks for this post!! I have had 3 Pitties in my life and loved everyone of them. Every day my family and I are persecuted for having a Pit. We couldn't ask for a better pet. I'm getting tired of getting on my soapbox and defending my pet. She has passed 2 obedience classes with flying colors, and even my vet wants me to put her into a "good citizen" class.

    Here is a little professional insight into the BSL issue. I am a Paramedic and Firefighter, and have been for over 15 years. I have lost count of how many dog bite/attacks that I have been dispatched to. My personal experience...95% of the time it's the human's fault. I just recently had a call where a 3 year old was bit by a pit. His father was dog sitting for a neighbor, did not know the dog, and left the kid in the house with this dog unattended. The kid tried to feed the dog by holding up a piece of bologna in front of his face, and the dog missed. The bite was not bad, thank God, but the father and the police on scene wanted to put a bullet in the dog's head. I had them exit the house and had the dog in my lap in less than 5 minutes. The dog was terrified. I'm just happy I could help the dog. Thankfully, the officer changed his mind after I explained what happened....and yet again....got on my soapbox about pits. Since then the officer has even met my pit and educated himself. At least that was one more life saved.

    I truly fear the little "ankle biters". When I enter someone's home, they are the aggressive ones, but the owners do nothing because the dog is small....so it's cute. It's not cute. The little ones cause just as much damage.

    Thank you for what you do. I hope more people will read your story and other stories I've read here. It will make a difference!!

  39. Mary Katherine Rogers

    Dear victoria,i just got a new dog and it is horrible!!!!!!!!!!he is just a puppy and my dad loves him so much i dont wanna get rid of him! i am clueless and dont know what to do. he is also fighting with our other dog,oreo.he poops and pees everywhere in our house.please help!i live in morristown,TN,USA
    thanks and God Bless,
    Mary Katherine Rogers
    PS i love u

  40. Kat Perry

    Very well written, Victoria! I am the proud mommy of a German Shepherd Dog and a "Pitbull" and I am happy to say that BOTH have turned out to be wonderful, sweet and loving family pets. The key for us was positive reinforcement and most importantly RESPECT. My dogs learned a LONG time ago not to FEAR us, but to RESPECT us. The reason they learned this is simple: WE RESPECT THEM. They are strong, confident, and intelligent dogs because we chose to respect and love them and not beat them down with fear.

  41. Victoria Nelson

    Dear Victoria

    Thank you so much for your wonderful and well informed message about BSL. I have been saying this for years myself to everyone I meet. I still have my 12 yr old American Staffordshire Terrier (commonly called a pit bull) in Canada where BSL is rampant. Thank God she was covered by the grandfather clause.

    She is the 2nd Am Staff that I have owned and both have been wonderful dogs with kids, cats and people. Both had also been abused before I got them and both these dogs chose me as their new owner (heart warming story here 😉 ). In many ways I 'rescued' my dogs from circumstances beyond their control. They have always been my little fur babies and my vets have always told me that I have looked after them well. In fact when I tell them how I got them they always say that the dogs have made good choices. LOL

    Thanks so much for writing something so straight forward and educational. People should really be screened more before being allowed to own any dog as a companion to be sure that the dog is getting the best choice possible when being adopted into a new home. If they cannot raise a dog properly how can we expect them to raise children/ They will only raise up more dysfunctional humans in the process. I really wish people were better educated about being a good human being before they learn all the educational school work required ... it is too bad the school cannot educate them as better human beings as well with good moral standards.

    As for poor Lennox ... I think it is absolutely disgusting that they know what breed he is and yet continue to keep him confined. This is beyond disgusting and something should be done asap. It has already been allowed to go on too long.

    I have seen terrible pictures of dogs abused by man ... man is the problem in so many ways ... not the dogs ... and it is always the owners. If people don't care enough to feed, love, train or look after a dog properly then they shouldn't get one to start with ... and abandoning it and letting it starve more is totally inhumane. People who do this should be fined heavily, do some time in jail and mandatory community work with animals when they come out (if the animals will be safe). It sickens me to think of the fate of so many of our fur friends at the hands of less than human beings.

    Thanks sweetie ... I wish you continued success in your endeavours.

    Sincerely ... from another mother and dog owner ... and another Victoria. . xxx

  42. Victoria Nelson

    Quick note here ... I have always owned large dogs of various breeds including a German Shepherd. All of my dogs have been super friendly towards kids,cats and other dogs. I agree with a lot of comments written here about dogs and ownership.

    My dog has suffered insults and curses from fools that don't know how friendly and loving she is just because of the BSL and having to wear a stinking muzzle in public ... people automatically assume she is mean because of it and other dogs who are not of the breed and not wearing it often try to attack her. As they say, "What's up with that?" I think it is because it is something unknown to them. My poor dog would hide her head in shame and wonder what she did and you could see her slump from the abuse. She is a very sensitive and loving girl and doesn't deserve this. It just makes me furious.

    BSL has gotta go!!! It sets us up as victims because an uncaring government refused to listen to the thousands of pettitions put in by vets and common folk alike. The government listened to the misinformed media hype instead where they discriminated against pit bulls and other dogs like them. I saw many dog attacks in the paper one time and only one made the front page (of course it was a pit bull) - and the person got bit ... no stitiches) yet the other dog attacks were much more violent (many stitches required) and one even resulted in a loss of human life (it was inside the back page and a Golden Lab did it).

    The newspapers only have one agenda ... and that is to sell papers. They don't care how ... they don't care that they are causing harm, bias or dicrimination ... they only want to up their circulation and make money. That is their bottom line ... the almighty dollar.

    I am glad to see others putting up a fight against animal abuse of any kind ... we as humans are responsible for these creatures as the so called higher life form ... one thing to note though ... I have never seen a dog abuse or torture another creature ... nor any other animal for that matter ... only man does that. 🙁

    I want to leave this on a postive note so I will share something with you. Long before the BSL came into affect (and when my gril was just more than a puppy of 10 months) I had her out for her walk one day and there were people about as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary. My dog was investigating the smells and flowers along the way (she loves flowers). One woman approaching us with a child suddenly scooped her child up and ran off screaming in another direction to avoid us clearly reacting to my dog. Several people looked to see what I or my dog had done. I looked down at my dog who stood there looking puzzled as to what was going on and said in a large voice for all to hear, "Don't worry puppy! I will protect you from the crazy lady! " ... and with that we continued our walk like nothing had happened while the 'crazy lady' was still carrying on. I did notice the smirks on several faces though. 😉 😀

    Keep up the good fight !! You have many of us supporting you. hugggsss

    From another mother and dog owner ... and another Victoria. . xxx

  43. Skylar Nicole

    I always heard BSL was an issue! I am an eleven year old girl & have a heart beating passion for pit bulls and rottwielers, german shepards, etc. My mother is always trying to stress to me that pit bulls are terrible creatures. This has gotten to be my favorite pit bull quote:
    "When it comes to pit bulls... the beast is often the two legged animal on the other end of the leash!"
    -Unknown
    And I love everything about them!!! 🙂

  44. Mary L. Wyatt

    Victoria: BRAVO! Well said. I have a Bichon who can be aggressive towards males and children -- because she is afraid. A fluffy white dog that looks like a little lamb and I know I have to work with her to calm her and love her and she really appreciates the training - you can tell. But I would never have her around little children. So exposing the error of BSL is very important along with training us to teach out dogs behaviors that they benefit from (often more than we do I think) is so important. Discipline is love - for children being taught to transition into becoming responsible, confident adults and for our dogs who look to us for our guidance and boundaries. THANK you for your work in this area. I love watching you on television and what a great job you do in helping owners with their dogs. Keep up the good work. You're great.

  45. Tonya

    We are facing possible anti-pit bull legislation in a town near my home. The Xenia, OH city council is considering a ban on the breed. I can't find any information on what the wording of the law would be, other than this from a local TV news website. (The Xenia City Council meets tonight to talk about a "breed ban" that would make it illegal for anyone to own, sell or transport a Pit Bull dog.)

    Here are a couple of links to stories & info, if you're interested:

    http://www.whiotv.com/news/27548387/detail.html
    http://www.wdtn.com/dpp/news/pit-bull-ban-considered-in-xenia

    Xenia City Council's site: http://www.ci.xenia.oh.us/city-services/city-council.html

    Hopefully, this city (which advertises itself as the "City of Hospitality") will have a change of heart!

  46. thementalcoach

    As a Doberman guy, I keep a close eye on BSL (which also shows up in insurance companies, apartment policies, hotel policies, etc.). Funny you should mention Dachhunds. Of the two dog bites I've had, one was a GSD and the other was a Doxie. I've rescued and retrained a couple of pitbulls, they were great dogs. In fact, one year as a "photo pet santa" for a local dog charity, I had two pitbulls on my lap (it was a great photo). About children...can't tell you how many parents have let their child RUN up to my dobie to "give him a hug." (he's really big with one floppy ear, makes him look really friendly, which he is). Parents and kids then get the "big lecture" about how to approach a dog, etc. but I get chills thinking about the consequences of children running up to an aggressive or fearful dog. Keep it up, Victoria, with your dog bite prevention efforts. They are really needed.

    David (and Orion, the big, brown Doberman Pinscher)

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