Many people (and dogs) I know tend to think of Canadians as plain spoken, common sensical folks, who (Rob Ford aside) tend to refrain from the USA’s more vulgar and ill-conceived excesses. Recently, however, officials in Montreal endorsed BSL – Breed Specific Legislation – aimed at, yes, that’s right, pit bulls. If enacted, the law would, among other things, ban new ownership of “pit bull-type” dogs, requiring owners to go through a background check and muzzle their dogs when in public. Some U.S. cities (Denver, Miami), and some entire countries (France, Spain, U.K, New Zealand) have adopted similar bans even though science has show that pit bulls (bred from bulldogs and other terriers) are no more inherently violent than other breeds. Among the notable advocates to condemn BSL are President Obama and the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. In this video, he makes a case for America’s most unjustly maligned dogs. It may seem like we’re piling on but Bronwen Dickey, author of “Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon” calls the ban”stupid” and anything but specific. In a recent LA Times Op Ed piece, she shreds BSL, offering evidence of its ineffectiveness. For me, my human parents, and all our dog and dog guardian friends, BSL is just BS. If you’d like to help, write to Montreal official, asking them to reconsider the ill-advised action, and offering to boycott their industries and sport teams if they don’t.
Actress and rescue activist Linda Blair offered some reasons why BSL doesn’t work, and some suggestions to implement instead. Why BSL does NOT work: It’s not financially sound as it often ties up community resources while cases are determined. Many folks cannot properly identify the breed in question. Any dog (or companion animal for that matter) can bite. It has NO scientific basis and is not supported by the following organizations:
– American Bar Association
– American Kennel Club
– American Veterinary Medical Association
– Center for Disease Control and Prevention
– National Animal Control Association
– National Canine Research Council
– The Obama Administration
– State Farm Insurance
– The U.S. Department of Housing and Development
– The U.S. Department of Justice
Instead of ineffective posturing, concerned legislators should focus on:
– The importance and necessity of spaying a neutering, so we can end pet overpopulation.
– Ending puppy mills, so we can end of the suffering of Mama dogs who’s feet often times never touch the ground.
– The importance of micro chipping, so beloved pets can return home.
– The importance of vaccinations, so we can eradicate diseases like parvo that leave innocent puppies suffering.
– Updating our licensing laws so that pet “owners” are held responsible for animals actions, not the animal.
– Updating pet “ownership” laws – we are pet guardians meant to serve and protect our beloved companions.
Linda Blair, rescue advocate
Like so many other human foibles, BSL makes me wonder just how superior our human partners are. It’s a favorite theme of my dad, Lou, who currently has his large but mainly decorative snout buried in Carl Safina‘s fabulous book, “Beyond Words: What Animals Think And Feel”. A highly decorated writer, scientist, and academic, Safina suggests that we’re all animals with humans just one shade of a larger animal rainbow. He’s struck by how animals live in harmony with nature and each other except for one particular creature that seems hellbent on wreaking as much mayhem as possible. Cesar Millan has a similar take: ”Humans are good at a lot of things. When it comes to creating art or doing science or excelling any of hundreds of other pursuits that we have invented, no animal can beat us. Crows will never discover a cure for cancer. An elephant will never create a masterpiece – despite what you’ve heard about elephants painting in Thailand. What we lack in fur or feathers we make up for an intellect. When it works for us, we do things like travel to the moon or create “Hamilton” or invent new and better machines to make our lives easier. That’s part of what makes us human. Unfortunately, we also excel at something that no animal can do. Humans are experts at working against Nature at every opportunity.”
In all the commotion about pit bull discrimination, I forgot to say congratulations to my ‘mom’, ace sculptor Eugenie Spirito, for her participation in the recent art show at Canvas Malibu and for 28 years of marriage to my loving but sometimes grumpy dad. They were wed in Verona, Italy at Juliet’s Tomb and recently celebrated their continuing good fortune with the brief holiday in nearby Ventura and Ojai, where a certain dashing pit bull got to join the fun and guard the room while they were off wining and dining.
With ‘Dad’ in Ventura, CA