It still feels surreal that the Dodo made a video about us, like any second I’ll wake up. So you can imagine my surprise when I received an email stating their intention to make another one! I didn’t know but, this time my words and thoughts on Breed Specific Legislation(BSL) were the theme! If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out:
I’ve tackled the BSL issue before on our blog. Specifically, when Montreal decided to enact such legislation around a year ago. The only thing that I want to say before I get going is it infuriates me that, despite a lack of evidence, such ineffective legislation is continuously considered as a viable option for legislators.
Being around dogs so much has a way of altering your perception of the world. I have a hard time living in the past, holding on to grudges, or focusing on anything negative. I’ve become, almost compulsively, solution-oriented and this topic is no exception. I spent a lot of time when we first starting working with a Bully Breed rescue on BSL, how dumb it was and, shockingly enough, I made exactly no headway towards a viable alternative for communities that were considering BSL.
Come with me on a trip down memory lane…
To when little Pauly pandapants(my nickname from Peighton) was a wee lad. His pops was an old school, Baltimore city cop with old school Greek values. Protecting oneself and one’s family was paramount to being a man, and part of that responsibility for me, was learning how to safely handle and be around firearms. Old Papa Kirhagis was fond of his guns and the size of his collection reflected that passion. It was important for him and my, anti-everything violent and “mean”, mom for me to know the rules of gun safety and how to handle a firearm should the need ever present itself.
The scene of the memory is set to the glow of those tubular flourescent lightbulbs. The desks reminded me of my middle school homeroom and my seat in which I parked every morning.
There was a motley crew joining me for this particular gun safety class, from grizzled old vets renewing their safety certifications, to other noobs like me who were in awe of the raw power that comes with a firearm.
Looking back, the class was pretty straightforward stuff. Don’t look down the barrel of a gun, check safety position, carrying a gun safely, proper shooting stance, assessing the area behind your target for potential dangers(other people, animals, etc). Even though it seems like common sense, these lessons stuck with me and I still, to this day, follow those safety rules if I am presented with a situation where I need to handle a firearm.
What’s that have to do with BSL?
Simple! Just like with a gun, a dog that is mishandled(especially bully breeds), can become a ticking time bomb. So why not teach folks how to properly manage ANY dog instead of telling them which breed they can and can’t own?
There are already thousands upon thousands of basic obedience classes being taught everywhere around the world. If a community has a concern that needs to be addressed via legislation, than a license should be required to own ANY breed of dog whose issuance is pursuant to owner and canine completing certified(more on this in a second) basic obedience class. I don’t have the resources to gather the data, but I am 99.9% certain that, given a set amount of time, dog bite statistics would show a massive decline in the areas that would be of concern to our fictional community.
Advanced certified certification
(we don’t have to call it that!)
This part is would just be the legal addendum to any existing basic obedience class allowing the person running the class to sign off on a license. The important part here is teaching dog owner’s how to keep themselves and their four-legged companions safe in public. Rather than get into specifics, I think that local trainers/industry professionals would be better suited to guide what exactly their community would require be taught at a certified class.
A better way
Using a licensing system that employed basic obedience classes to educate owners about responsible dog ownership is just better. It’s better because it would actually work. The problem isn’t the dogs, it has never been the dogs, it is misinformation.
BSL doesn’t accomplish it’s stated goal, but until folks that care come up with something better, change is going to be really tough. Maybe my solution isn’t the right solution. But when this conversation comes up, keep it about solving the problem in a better way! Be a bucket-filler!