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Breed-specific legislation

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Malcolm Gladwell, author of the books "Blink" and " The Tipping Point" writes a rather good article in the New Yorker this week about the both the power and danger of generalizations, and more specifically, what kind of generalizations are useful and what kinds are not. He explores this topic with an exploration of the logic (ill-conceived, he shows us) behind legislation that bans specific breeds. There are good generalizations, Mr. Gladwell points out, that one can make about dogs that attack people but they are not about the breed of dog and, if we want, really, to prevent attacks, we had best look at generalizations that are really predictive (like the owner having a prior record of disturbance) and make our legislaton based on those. The article is well-crafted and well-researched and Gladwell is exploring an issue here of importance to creating good public policy in additon to sensible policy legislation regarding canines. Go ahead and read it: Troublemakers: What pit bulls can teach us about profiling.

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Aaron Clayton is President of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and TAGteach International, and a member of the ClickerExpo Faculty.

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BSL creates problems

We recently argued against BSL here in my community. A little research will show that BSL actually costs more money -- much more -- and does little or nothing to prevent dog bites. Fighting rings (already illegal) aren't going to end because suddenly the dogs they abuse are also illegal! Owners who already irresponsibly ignore leash laws and basic husbandry practices are not going to suddenly become responsible owners because their dogs were banned. BSL hurts primarily those of us who carefully keep and train our dogs rather than those who are the problem.

BSL creates a picture of active, concerned politicians, but it really creates a sense of false security in communities and does nothing to address the problem of unsocialized, untrained, inhumanely kept or abused dogs. A week after Denver banned pit bulls, a boy was killed by another breed -- banning breeds doesn't prevent bites!

Owners of non-targeted breeds need to pay attention, too. I heard a Golden owner, active in training and competing, say that her dog was safe for kids to approach because it wasn't a Rottweiler. That's wholly irresponsible -- not all Goldens are friendly, and kids should be taught to greet dogs based on behavior, not looks, lest the child make an unfortunate assumption. In addition, the woman's comment only supported BSL-friendly attitudes, even though she supposedly opposed breed prejudice. Please examine your words and be sure that you're not contributing to the problem!

In the meantime, my own specimens of "vicious dangerous breeds" are trained and well-socialized and better behaved than many of the children the politicians claim to want to protect. I'm doing my part. :-)

Laura &

  • Ascomannis Laevatein YTT RL1 (www.CaninesInAction.blogspot.com, www.clickertraining.com/blog/179)
  • Inky (couch dog)

As an owner of a

As an owner of a pit-bull-type dog, I am glad that someone finally wrote the article I've been wanting to write. I would have called it, "Everything I needed to know about discrimination I learned from my pit bull." But finally, someone gets in a broad media outlet and dispels the myth of "breed specific" actions. Thank you Mr. Gladwell! Now if we can just convince the people running Ontario, Denver, and other places where they've banned the breed for political expediency (at the cost of really doing something about the problem of vicious dogs) then we'll really be making progress!