I am a dog loving conservative. I think that may put me in a minority, based on the memes I see on Facebook alongside my dog loving friends’ photos of their dogs. But here is a place where my liberal dog friends, and my conservative dog friends can reach across the kennel and find common ground.
In NC, our 14th amendment rights are in the process of being trampled upon, and the vehicle is the family dog. While we are preoccupied by terrorism, grisly abortion doctors, and mysterious fertilizer plant fires, the NC State legislature is quietly discussing a bill that would ban certain breeds, or require onerous fees, testing, training on anyone who chooses to own certain breeds. House Bill 956 identifies six breeds as dangerous, and will attempt to regulate ownership of those breeds. It does not go so far as to outright ban those breeds, but many of the regulations would have the effect of making it near impossible for anyone to afford any of those designated breeds.
It seems reasonable, on first blush, to ban dogs that are implicated in 60% of fatal dog attacks. However, there are many problems with the statistics and how they are determined and analyzed, as well as the fact that when more careful research is applied, at least 30 breeds are responsible for dangerous dog attacks. And additionally, it is often near impossible, short of genetic testing, to accurately assess breeds in cross-mix dogs. Genetic testing is very expensive, yet even dog experts often disagree on breed designations without it. Furthermore, all dogs can be vicious, all breeds can and do attack, all can and do bite, and sometimes poop on my lawn while the owner pretends not to notice and moves happily onward without picking it up.
So what does Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) have to do with constitutional rights, and
why should this matter to readers of a political blog site? The 14th amendment declares
that no person could be denied “equal protection of the laws.” Is it equal protection of
the laws when owners of certain breeds must go to training classes (at their expense
presumably, or worse, at tax-payers’ expense) to learn how to raise a well-behaved dog,
submit to genetic testing to determine if they do indeed own a “bully breed”, or submit to
a criminal background check before picking up a dog from the pound, as HB 956 would
demand? What happened to presumption of innocence, or due process? Why should
someone who has never had problems with aggression in their dog submit to this sort of
As in the gun control case, and burdensome security in wake of terrorism, BSL plays
on fear, and oftentimes, ignorance. There are some simple common-sense precautions
we CAN take that can reduce the incidence of dog related injury, other than denigrating,
regulating, or banning specific breeds. For example, unneutered dogs are 2.6 times
more likely to bite than neutered dogs, and male dogs 6.2 times more likely to bite
(Gershman KA, Sacks JJ, Wright JC. Which dogs bite? A case-control study of risk
factors. Pediatrics 1994;93:913–917) Wouldn’t public funds/attention be better spent
encouraging dog owners to neuter their dogs, especially male dogs? Public decreased
cost spay/neuter clinics might be money well spent, not only in dealing with aggressive
dogs, but with the horrible problem of homeless dogs.
If a dog is implicated in aggressive behavior, then require specific training to be
undertaken or relinquish ownership. All dog owners should be responsible for the
actions of their dogs. ANYONE involved in training/promoting aggression (as in the
fighter dog case of Michael Vick) should be criminally charged, and should never be
allowed to own another pet ever again. I was horrified to see a picture of Michael Vick
recently with a new dog.
And finally, if a dog poops on my lawn, and the offender does not remove it, I believe
the death penalty is completely appropriate. (PS- this is sarcasm…one must always be
careful when expressing sarcasm in written form.)
Please contact your NC legislator today. BSL is horrible policy, expensive if not
impossible to enact, and discriminatory not only against dogs, but against the freedom
and rights of dog owners. (PS- this is NOT sarcasm.)
By: Vicky Kaseorg
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