What is wrong with breed specific legislation?

If you do not own an affected breed you may be thinking ... "so what, these are bad dogs that need to be eliminated from our society". The problem with this line of thinking is that it is just not true.

At the public hearing expert after expert advised the government that they supported tougher dog laws. However, every credible expert told the government in no uncertain terms that breed bans were not going to increase public safety. In fact, several experts cautioned the government that this approach might actually decrease safety.

All of the scientific studies of the affected breeds indicate that these breeds are not more inherently dangerous and that they are not qualitatively different from other breeds. The abstract of study on inappropriate aggression in dogs that looks at 5 breeds included this comment:

"Notably, disorders in aggressive behaviour were not registered within the Staffordshire Bullterrier breed."

Another scientific study of aggression in Golden Retrievers found no notable difference between the levels of inappropriate aggression in this breed and the 3 affected by a breed ban in Germany. The author of the thesis concluded:

"The results show that it is neither legitimate to discriminate against certain breeds nor to submit them to the rules and regulations of the so called breed-lists. Instead a competent, specifically educated and responsible dog owner should be supported in our society, since this is an effective way to prevent behaviour problems in household dogs."

This is the same advise that every canine expert gave the government. The fact is that everyone who understands the issue realizes that breed bans are costly, ineffective and they do not achieve their intended goal of increasing public safety around dogs.

This bill will cost the taxpayers of Ontario millions of dollars to enforce, money better spent on health care and other areas of public safety. Since October 2004, Windsor has incurred $26,000 in additional animal control expenses enforcing that city's pit bull ban. As well, the government ignored other non-breed specific legislative strategies that have proved to work in jurisdictions such as Calgary.

New Brunswick is an example of a province that will be enacting non-breed specific province wide dangerous dog and dog owner responsibility legislation in 2005. New Brunswick is leading the way in public safety with regard to dog bites, not Ontario, as the Liberal government claims.

If you support the ban we would ask you this. What is more important to you, achieving a reduction in serious dog bites or targeting a specific breed in anger when in almost every case the owner of the dog that attacked played a direct role (whether they realized it or not) in the attack?

The study of Golden Retrievers made this very interesting observation:

"The test seemed to be a rather large burden to a lot of the dogs. If a dog has to endure ongoing stressful situations during his everyday life, the German animal welfare act considers this an unacceptable suffering."

Canines do not seem to be equipped to deal with the stress that irresponsible owners place on them. Another study noted that aggressive training where the leash of the dog is jerked harshly could be enought to cause a dog to start to exhibit inappropriate aggression.

The bottom line, however, is that breed bans do not work. As far as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is concerned this is the very last breed that should be banned as it is one of the most trustworthy and tractable dogs with people in the entire dog world. It is bar-none the "foremost all-purpose dog". This is not just our opinion, but a requirement of our breed standard as established by the Canadian Kennel Club.

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